Bamboo is one of nature’s greatest gifts to mankind. It has been utilized
for thousands of years by cultures around the globe, most notably in
Asia and South America. Bamboo has provided shelter, medicine, and
even food for millions of people throughout history. Today there are
more than 1 billion people living in homes constructed of bamboo. Recently,
bamboo has realized its full potential as a fashionable, affordable,
and renewable alternative to standard wood products. The bamboo revolution
has begun, and will continue to grow, as the front-runner of all rapidly
Bamboo is a grass, and the fastest growing wood like substance on
the planet. Moso bamboo ( Phyllostachys pubescens), the variety most
commonly used in flooring and building materials, grows to a height
of 50-60 feet in only eighteen months. Moso bamboo reaches maturity
and can be harvested after four to six years of growth. Compare this
to the 30-60 years for any comparable wood species, and it is easy
to see the advantages of bamboo. The day after a stalk is harvested,
there will be four to seven plants in its place. No replanting is necessary,
as bamboo is regenerated through its rhizomes. Bamboo offers incredible
erosion control due to this rapid regeneration.
A viable replacement for wood. Bamboo is one of the strongest building
materials available. Bamboo's tensile strength is 28,000 per square
inch versus 23,000 for steel. While bamboo is incredibly strong, it
is also flexible and lightweight, which makes it an essential structural
material in earthquake architecture. In Limon, Costa Rica, only the
bamboo houses from the National Bamboo Project stood after their violent
earthquake in 1992.
Bamboo is a critical element in the balance of oxygen / carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere. Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening
of degraded areas and generates 35% more oxygen than an equivalent
stand of trees.
Bamboo may hold the answer to the future re-vegetation of the earth
in vast areas of Brazil and other deforested regions around the world.
In modern urban centers the leaf / people ratio is the lowest ever
in history, and it may someday be sensibly restored by planting bamboo.
Index | Building
Green | Sustainability