What is stronger than steel, more robust than concrete, and more flexible than wood? Bamboo is the new and trending sustainable material for the construction industry, but it’s older than time. The bamboo plant was here before humans. Chinese people used it to construct houses 5,000 years ago.
Money in the hand is the Yankee dollar bill
Working with the big bamboo… -1958, Kingston, Jamaica
Bamboo has been underappreciated and under-utilized for too long. But you’ll see this “miracle material” making its way into North American and European architectural designs more frequently as demand for sustainable materials increases.
“Whenever I have the option to use bamboo, I use it,” says Vo Trong Nghia, who coined the term “green steel.” Bamboo as a building material reduces our carbon footprint. It can also be used as a bioenergy source.
Concrete, steel, stone… These construction industry materials are staples. But supply shortages and higher costs cause many decision-makers to examine material alternatives. Lumber is expensive and its pricing highly volatile. “Bamboo’s characteristics leave it in the shade,” says imm-cologne magazine.
Bamboo is a grass; not a tree. It may become the construction material offering a negative carbon footprint.
- Bamboo absorbs more CO2 than many tree species.
- Bamboo fibers are stronger/more resilient than wood because its fibers run lengthwise.
- Chemical pesticides/fertilizers are unnecessary for favorable growing conditions.
- When harvested, the bamboo plant doesn’t die. Part of the stalk remains planted and bamboo can then regrow.
- Wood must grow 20+ years before harvesting. Bamboo plants can be harvested after 3 years.
Bamboo architecture is not without challenges. Uniformity has set standards for construction, but bamboo poles vary in length, thickness, and shape. The University of Tennessee has researched possibilities of using bamboo in architectural design, including milling techniques to secure irregular joint ends.
This material may revolutionize the construction industry and reshape our thinking about what’s attractive. Bamboo’s form and function offer reality-based beauty. Watch for it to become increasingly sought-after by consumers and investors.
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