This article looks into bamboo as a sustainable construction material. It is a continuation of my series on bamboo and its sustainable properties. This week it is again based on the analysis of Pablo van der Lugt and his book Booming Bamboo.


For people in Europe, the idea of using bamboo as a construction material may seem far fetched. But for people in Asia and Africa, this is a common building material that has been used for centuries.

Pablo explains that:

In Asia, stems of bamboo are still being used extensively in scaffolding because of its light weight combined with excellent tensile and bending strength.”

What has been a game changer for the development of bamboo is engineered materials which mimic wood-based products. As you can see from thee graphs below, whether on hardness or durability, the bamboo products come out as equal or superior to their wood-based competitors.


These manufactured bamboo products make them suitable for structural use. As you can see from the chart below, they perform very strongly in a stress comparison with wood-based products.

stress comparison

In terms of carbon, we have touched on this before but I think that it is worth mentioning again, as this should be a key selling point when it comes to bamboo. Bamboo’s are able to store very large quantities of carbon, both in their biomass and soil and in the durable products that come about through harvesting. As you can see from the chart below, one species in particular, the South American Guadua bamboo can store amazing quantities of carbon when grown in managed plantations.

carbon per hectare

What is most important though, is how bamboo performs to other commonly used, often non-renewable resources used by the construction industry. What becomes clear when looking at the charts below, is that bamboo performs very strongly. What this shows, is that there are significant benefits to be had from substituting high-carbon non-renewable materials for low-carbon and in some cases carbon-negative bio-based construction materials, the most promising of which is bamboo.

Carbon compared to other materials

What you need to know

This article looked at bamboo as a sustainable construction material.

We looked at how engineered products have opened up the possibility of using bamboo for a variety of construction purposes.

In terms of hardness and durability, we looked at how bamboo performed very strongly in this category.

We looked at how bamboo can be used for structural purposes in construction.

Lastly, we looked into how bamboo is a plant that can store large amounts of carbon per hectare and performs very strongly in terms of its carbon footprint when compared to other comparable construction materials.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to raise the profile of this sustainable resource?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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