BAMBOO CONSTRUCTION & CLIMATE CHANGE

This article looks into bamboo construction and climate change. It was inspired by this article that I came across last week in Indian newspaper The Tribune.

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In Asia bamboo has been used as a versatile construction material for centuries. But its benefits for climate change mitigation and adaptation have only come to the forefront more recently.

The use of bamboo as a construction material is advantageous for two reasons.

Firstly, the majority of materials used in construction delivery such as steel, concrete, aluminium and glass are all carbon intensive and non-renewable. Therefore, any move away from these and towards low carbon renewable resources would be extremely beneficial.

Secondly, bamboo is a plant species that produces above average amounts of oxygen during its growth phase and stores above average amounts of carbon dioxide in its stems. It also grows quickly and can be harvested annually, rather than felled as it is a grass and not a tree. This has seen it rise in prominence as a sustainable construction material. Some structures made entirely of bamboo can be declared carbon negative, because the amount of carbon stored in the materials exceeds that used to create the building.

There is also the question of desirability. Bamboo structures and internal finishes are extremely eye catching. This is a key benefit, which should help this sustainable material grow in popularity as more people come to identity bamboo with sustainability and quality, leading to a virtuous cycle of growth.

Bamboo is a versatile material, that can be used to create everything from bus stops, to structures, to internal finishes to bicycles. This incredible material, could see buildings become a carbon sink, rather than a source of carbon emissions.

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo construction and climate change.

We looked into bamboo’s 2 key advantages. Namely that it displaces high carbon materials and is itself a fast-growing low carbon material.

It should be seen as an added bonus, that it can be used to create desirable, eye catching finished structures.

Bamboo is already widely used in construction across Asia, but has only scratched the surface in Europe and North America. With more advocates and more people demanding sustainable places to live and to work, this trend could change.

Low carbon buildings are good, but carbon negative buildings are better. Bamboo is the intelligent material of choice for sustainable buildings.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

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 make more people aware of the carbon benefits of bamboo buildings.

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

BAMBOO APPLICATIONS

This article looks into the applications that bamboo can be used for as a sustainable construction material. This will be the last part in the series on bamboo and its sustainable properties. This week is again based on the analysis of Pablo van der Lugt and his book Booming Bamboo.

bamboo-with-engravings

Structural Applications

As touched upon in last weeks article, engineered bamboo products are suitable for a number of structural purposes. We will go through a few examples here.

The BMW Solar Carport is one of my favourite examples of bamboo being used for a structural purpose. It is made from laminated bamboo beams and stainless steel.

bmw-solar-car-port.jpg

It looks great and it allows electric vehicles to be fully charged using on site renewable energy.

Another stunning use of bamboo is the Zeri Pavilion that was on display at the EXPO 2000 in Hannover. This was designed by Colombian architect Simon Velez, and he is well known for being one of the most accomplished bamboo architects.

Zeri

The South American bamboo Guadua provided material for the beams, the flooring, the internal columns and the roof supports.

Architectural Applications

Beyond structural purposes, which can be made both practical and sustainable, bamboo can be used to create architecturally stunning buildings.

One of my favourite examples is the Parkhaus Zoo in Leipzig. As you can see from the picture below, the building is wrapped in thousands of bamboo stems, which are nice to look at.

Leipzig Zoo

Interior Applications

Just as bamboo can be used on the exterior of a building to create stunning facades, it can be used on the interior to create eye catching finishes.

One of my favourite interior finishes examples is the ceiling of T4 at Madrid International Airport. It consists of 200,000 m2 of gently curved laminated bamboo laths. To make them suitable for an aviation environment they have been impregnated with fire retardants. They are particularly eye catching as they have been able to warp the material in two directions, to create a memorable finish.

Madrid international Airport

What you need to know

This article looked into the applications that bamboo can be used for.

We looked at examples of bamboo being used for structural purposes. These were both eye catching and sustainable.

We looked at bamboo’s use in architectural practice, which can create stunning external finishes.

We looked at an example of bamboo being used for internal finishes to great effect.

Overall, the key takeaway should be that bamboo is both highly sustainable, has incredible properties of strength and can also be used to great effect to create truly memorable buildings and infrastructure.

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

BAMBOO AS A SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL

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.

red-bamboo-texture

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.

hardness

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

BAMBOO AS A CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTION

This article looks into Bamboo as a climate change solution. It is based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

Alex Keda

In my series earlier in the year, I looked into each of the top 20 in turn. You can find a link to this series below.

Project Drawdown

Bamboo was not ranked high enough to make it into the top 20, but it was still ranked at a respectable 35.

The authors behind the Drawdown section on bamboo open with the following statement:

Bamboo rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil, taking it out of the air faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on inhospitable degraded lands.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed bamboo to be ranked as the 35th most effective climate change solution by Project Drawdown. Their research showed that bamboo could reduce CO2 emissions by 7.22 gigatons, for a net cost of $23.8 billion, but produce $234.8 billion in net savings. This makes it a powerful climate change solution that should not be overlooked.

The authors point towards the properties that make bamboo a special resource:

“Just a grass, bamboo has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel.”

Bamboo can become an invasive species if released into the wrong areas. The authors point towards this as well as its many positive features in their closing statement:

By focussing on commercial se on degraded lands, especially those with steep slopes or significant erosion, it is possible to maximise the positive impacts of bamboo – useful products, carbon sequestration and avoided emissions from alternative materials – while minimising the negatives.”

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a climate change solution.

In 2017 Project Drawdown ranked bamboo as the 35th most effective solution to reverse global warming.

Bamboo is a resource that grows quickly and is an excellent storer of carbon.It is also strong and stiff, making it ideal for multiple uses in construction where it can displace non-renewable and high-carbon resources that are currently used.

It does present challenges with its invasiveness, but these can be overcome. The positives vastly outweigh the negatives and the future looks bright for this resource.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

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

 

 

 

 

BAMBOO AS A SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE

This article looks into bamboo as a sustainable resource. This is probably the article that I have wanted to write for the longest amount of time, without actually getting around to it. There is a lot of material to cover so there will probably be a couple of parts to this series.

kazu end.jpg

What inspired me to finally write this was reading Pablo van der Lugt’s excellent book Booming Bamboo. I have put a picture of the cover below.

Booming Bamboo

Pablo shares lots of interesting ideas and information throughout the book. It is pretty accessible, whether you know nothing about bamboo before reading it, or if you already knew a lot, both sets of readers would get something from the book.

Probably the first and most important thing to point out about bamboo is that it is a grass and not a tree. It is estimated that there are 1600 different species of bamboo.

The fact that bamboo is a grass is the starting point for why it is different and more sustainable than timber from trees.

For the most part bamboo stems are hollow, which makes them different from tree trunks.

As Pablo explains:

Unlike a tree trunk, the bamboo stem does not grow in thickness. The thickness of the sprouting shoot determines the thickness of the mature stem, as cell growth only occurs in longitudinal direction.”

What makes bamboo a sustainable resource is its fast-growing speed. This is needed to cope with the demands of a large and growing world population and to displace many less sustainable materials from industries where they have been commonly used.

Of bamboo’s growing pattern Pablo writes that:

During the growing season, the bamboo shoots will sprout from the ground and reach their final length of up to 30m in height within a couple of months… maturity is attained after about 5 years, which is the moment the stem is ready for harvesting and for use in durable products in the building industry.”

Another common myth about bamboo is that it is primarily an Asian plant. This is not true, as it is found all over the world, with large quantities in South America and Africa.

Bamboo is also different from timber from trees which are harvested by way of clear cutting. With a bamboo plantation, they are harvested annually, as Pablo explains:

In general 20-25% of the poles in a bamboo forest or plantation can be sustainably harvested annually without decreasing the size of the plantation or the number of poles per hectare. The plant does not die after harvesting. On the contrary, by harvesting the mature poles, the yield and quality of the plantation actually increases.”

Interestingly, it is often thought that the fact that bamboo stems come in hollow tubular form makes them unsuitable for use as a structural material. However, nothing could be further from the truth. This is an incredibly efficient design that provides it with a naturally advantageous strength to weight ratio.

As the figure below shows, whether analysed on a strength / mass per volume or stiffness / mass per volume bamboo comes out as a very robust material when compared to other materials used for similar purposes. Bamboo brings many sustainable properties to the table as well, which is not the case for concrete or steel.

Bamboo vs steel

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a sustainable resource.

We looked into some key differences between bamboo and trees. These include the fact that bamboo is a grass, it’s fast-growing speed and its suitability for annual harvesting. We also looked into the incredible strength of this material, which makes it suitable for a number of important and high value end uses. We will look into these in next week’s article.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

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