BAMBOO AS A DEVELOPMENT TOOL

This article looks into bamboo as a development tool.

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Bamboo is a resource with many properties that are favourable to sustainability. In terms of its environmental properties, last week we looked into why it wins on the environmental front.

But sustainability is meant to be tackling social, economic and environmental problems at the same time and bamboo has many advantages that allow it to be a key tool for development.

One benefit is that it is a can be used as a tool to encourage sustainable, integrated farming systems. These allow farmers to diversify and create a balance of crops to sustain their livelihoods.

Another benefit is that it is a resource which has multiple uses. It is highly valued as a material that is able to produce range of products from consumer staples, to houses. Many of these products are aimed at international markets, which can contribute to export revenues. Bamboo allows for the development of value-added manufacturing opportunities that are accessible to the rural poor.

Lastly, the fact that it is a grass allows it to be harvested annually after it has reached maturity. This is essential as the long lead times and capital-intensive nature of tree crops make them unsuitable for lifting people out of poverty.

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a tool for development.

We looked into 3 reasons why bamboo is a superior resource that can be used as a tool to enable development.

As a resource, it faces many challenges in terms of stereotyping and preconceptions. But it has many advantages and is facilitating real change.

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 promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

WHY BAMBOO WINS ON SUSTAINABILITY

This article looks into the sustainability credentials of bamboo products.

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It is based on the findings from the INBAR Technical report number 35, which can be found here.

Bamboo is often lauded for its best-in-class sustainability credentials. The INBAR report uses Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and carbon footprinting to assess the sustainability of a selection of bamboo products. These are the two best methodologies for comparing the true sustainability of various products.

The figure that caught my eye in the study was the finding that showed that if production parameters were optimised, that industrial bamboo products can have a negative carbon footprint over their full life-cycle, from cradle to grave.

The authors provide the following helpful explanation of what this means:

“This means that the credits gained through carbon sequestration, and from burning to produce electricity in a power plant at the end of each product’s life, outweigh the emissions caused by the production and transport processes.”

I thought the study’s finding that energy consumption in processing industrial bamboo products is the largest contributor to their environmental impact was interesting. This makes up 36–53% of eco-costs and 52-63% of the carbon footprint of bamboo products.

A common defence of using timber in Europe and North America is that Bamboo’s transport from South America and Asia will make it less sustainable. In this regard it is interesting that the next largest contributor to environmental impact is international sea transport, which is responsible for 15-25% of the carbon footprint and 28-37% of the eco-costs of industrial bamboo products.

Eco costsCo2 costs

As we can see from the two charts bamboo performs vary favourable as compared to other materials in terms of carbon costs and eco-costs.

However, the key benefit of bamboo and why it wins on sustainability lies on the resource side. Because bamboo is a giant grass species, it is less susceptible to clear-cutting and deforestation and is ideal for reforestation.

The key winning features of bamboo include the following:

  • The mother plant consists of many stems connected through a vast underground root system, with new stalks coming up each year.
  • Bamboo is harvested like an agricultural crop.
  • Due to its extensive root system, bamboo can be planted in areas where farming is not feasible.
  • Its fast growth results in a high annual yield

What you need to know

This article looked into why bamboo wins on sustainability through the findings of the INBAR technical report number 35.

The report provided the eye-catching figure that bamboo products can be produced that are carbon negative over their lifecycle.

Energy consumption and international shipping were identified as two pinch points that are responsible for a large proportion of bamboo’s environmental and carbon footprint. Actions taken in these areas would go a long way to making it even more sustainable.

Bamboo was shown to compare extremely favourably in compassion to other industrial materials.

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 promote the benefits of bamboo?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

BAMBOO AS A MEANS OF CARBON SEQUESTRATION

This article looks into bamboo as a means of carbon sequestration. It is based on a recent interview that I read with Dr Hans Friederich, who is the Director General of INBAR. You can find a link to it here.

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Going back to square one with bamboo, it is a grass, not a tree. This enables it to grow rapidly.

This means that unlike trees which need to be felled, bamboo can be harvested like a crop, after which it will grow back vigorously.

This makes it an ideal means of carbon sequestration.

Bamboos can reach maturity in 5 years, meaning that they are able to keep up with rapid and ever-increasing demand.

Bamboos produce excellent charcoal and so can help to reduce deforestation worldwide, which is itself a significant source of carbon emissions.

Please see below for a useful insight from Dr Hans Friederich:

Apart from charcoal, there are many other long-lasting products that can be made from bamboo, and while they remain intact, they hold onto carbon the giant grass sequestered while still on the farm.

Bamboo is a highly sustainable material with thousands of end uses, to name but a few, this includes: textiles, building materials and packaging containers. These products are high quality and durable, as well as sustainably produced.

These advantages properties, combined with the looming and as yet unresolved threat posed by climate change, mean that bamboo is increasingly looking like a promising solution for meeting societal needs whilst simultaneously sequestering carbon.

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a means of carbon sequestration.

Bamboo’s rapid pace of growth and ability to be harvested annually after 5 years worth of growing time make it an ideal crop for material intensive industries in the 21st century.

With the additional capability to store carbon within the thousands of durable products that can be made from bamboo, this carbon sequestration capacity should be seized upon as a key enabler of sustainability.

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 promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

INCREDIBLE BAMBOO ARCHITECTURE

This article looks into the Bamboo Eye Pavilion. This was a highly sustainable structure created for the 2019 International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing.

Bamboo eye pavillion 1

It was designed by Italian architect Mauricio Cardenas Laverde. The structure is 1,600 m2 and is made entirely of bamboo, with 5000 poles of the moso variety required for the build.

The rationale behind the INBAR pavilion at the exhibition was to showcase bamboo to China and the world as the sustainable building material of choice.

Bamboo eye pavillion 2

Bamboo is a resource that grows rapidly and has a high tensile strength. It is lightweight and is able to replace steel and concrete for many applications.

As you can see from the image below, the structure was robust enough to support the weight of a green roof on top of it.

Bamboo eye pavillion 3

There is a nice time lapse video below, which shows the construction of the pavilion.

What you need to know

This article looked into the Bamboo Eye Pavilion. This was a structure created in 2019 for an exhibition in China.

It is a further demonstration of the attractive properties that bamboo can bring to the built environment.

Whether it be in emerging markets which are building social and economic infrastructure for the first time, or developed markets, which are upgrading their infrastructure and aiming to do so as sustainably as possible. Bamboo should be the material of choice to create successful, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing buildings for the 21st century.

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 promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

BAMBOO AND THE NITROGEN CYCLE

This article looks into bamboo and the nitrogen cycle.

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It is based on the findings of a recently released paper by Song, et al you can find a link to this paper below.

Nitrogen addition increased CO2 uptake more than non-CO2 greenhouse gases emissions in a Moso bamboo forest

To set the scene as to why this is important, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to more than one-quarter of anthropogenic global warming. This is why research into this area is so important.

Their study quantified the effects of nitrogen deposition on biomass increment, soil organic carbon, and nitrous oxide and methane fluxes and, ultimately, the net greenhouse budget at an ecosystem level for a Moso bamboo forest in China.

Their research showed that nitrogen addition significantly increased woody biomass increment and soil organic carbon decomposition, increased nitrous oxide emission, and reduced soil methane uptake.

Their overall finding for a carbon budget for a Moso bamboo forest was the following:

Despite higher N2O and CH4 fluxes, the ecosystem remained a net GHG sink of 26.8 to 29.4 megagrams of CO2 equivalent hectare−1 year−1 after 4 years of N addition against 22.7 hectare−1 year−1 without N addition. The total net carbon benefits induced by atmospheric N deposition at current rates of 30 kilograms of N hectare−1 year−1 over Moso bamboo forests across China were estimated to be of 23.8 teragrams of CO2 equivalent year−1.

Their data provides new evidence of the effects of nitrogen deposition on net ecosystem carbon uptake of Moso bamboo forests.

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo and the nitrogen cycle.

It was based on a recently published academic paper in Science Advances.

Their research showed that Nitrogen addition can positively influence a number of important parameters.

Their research also showed how important the significant carbon storage benefits of Moso Bamboo are.

Overall, this research is important in solidifying bamboo’s reputation as the world’s most sustainable material.

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 promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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.

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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.

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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