Strength and Durability
Thanks to its unique composition, bamboo is naturally designed for strength...
- Unlike wood, bamboo has no rays or knots, allowing it to withstand more stress throughout the length of each stalk.
- Bamboo’s sectional anatomy, both as a cane and on a microscopic fiber level, enhances its structural integrity.
- The high silica content in bamboo fibers means the material cannot be digested by termites.
- Bamboo contains different chemical extractives than hardwood, which make it better suited for gluing.
As a result, in structural engineering tests bamboo has been shown to have...
- Higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel
- Higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete
- Higher strength-to-weight ratio than graphite
Did You Know? The very dense fibers in each bamboo cane give the plant extreme flexibility, allowing it to bend without snapping. In earthquakes, a bamboo forest is actually a very safe place to take shelter, and houses made of bamboo have been known to withstand 9.0 magnitude quakes. For thousands of years bamboo has been the go-to building material for most of the world.
Trees used for conventional wood take 30-50 years to regenerate to their full mass. In the meantime, there is less oxygen produced, less carbon dioxide consumed, and more soil runoff in the spot where the tree was harvested - all producing harmful environmental effects. When it comes to sustainability, bamboo has traditional lumber beat in every category...
- Bamboo is clocked as the fastest growing plant on Earth. Some species have been measured to grow over 4 feet in 24 hours.
- A pole of bamboo can regenerate to its full mass in just six months!
- Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested every 3 years, without causing damage to the plant system and surrounding environment.
- During the time it takes to regenerate, the bamboo plant's root system stays intact so erosion is prevented.
- Continuous harvesting of this woody grass every 3-7 years, actually improves the overall health of the plant.
Did You Know? It is believed that if bamboo were planted on a mass basis it could completely reverse the effects of global warming in just 6 years, while providing a renewable source of food, building material, and erosion prevention.
Bamboo’s incredibly thick root system helps maintain soil integrity. This prevents landslides and keeps nutrients from getting dumped into rivers and lakes where they can harm the ecosystem. The following real-life stories demonstrate just how important bamboo is in preventing dangerous erosion.
- Just east of Nepal and north of Bangladesh, the Bhutanese village of Ramjar had a serious erosion problem. The precious rainfall supplying their crops and drinking water had also been washing their village down the hillside, forcing small communities to abandon their homes. Today, however, a long-term project is in place to plant groves of bamboo in these troubled areas to maintain land stability. Bamboo’s dense running root system has proven to be a great way to prevent erosion – so much so that in some cases its removal can actually harm the surrounding habitat.
- When the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia tore out five acres of bamboo alongside the Chattahoochee River, the State Environmental Protection Division declared they were in violation of environmental rules. Without bamboo bolstering the riverbanks, the water was in danger of eutrophication – a harmful excess of chemical nutrients being released in the water from eroding soil runoff. This can severely disrupt the ecology of the river and everything living in and near it. Luckily, the city halted the bamboo removal and agreed to restore the buffer around the river.
Saving The World's Forests
- Forests cover 31% of all Earth’s land.
- Every year 22 million acres of forested land is lost.
- 1.6 billion people’s livelihoods depend on forests.
- Forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity.
- Trees used for timber take 30 to 50 years to regenerate to their full mass, whereas one bamboo plant can be harvested every 3 to 7 years.
Forests around the world have felt the affects of human demand for lumber and paper goods. Deforestation has dealt an especially heavy blow to Earth’s largest tree, the California redwood. For almost 100 years, national and state parks in California have been working to protect 45% of the world’s remaining old-growth redwood trees. “Old-growth” refers to the forests that are considered ancient and tend to promote the most biodiversity because of their unique filtration of sunlight.
Along the California and Oregon coastlines a massive 96% of the original old-growth coast redwood trees have been logged for use in fences, furniture and construction. Many redwood lumber companies prefer using this old-growth wood because it is sturdier than the younger trees and can be given a longer warranty. However, this requires chopping down trees that have been around since the Middle Ages! Unfortunately, a mere 4% of the original old-growth redwoods are still standing as a result of a relentless demand for lumber.
Most redwoods have a 500 to 700 year lifespan, but some can live over 2000 years! Imagine destroying something that started growing in biblical times just to make a fence! In that same amount of time, one bamboo plant – which can be continually harvested every three years — could have been cut and re-grown over 650 times.
The Future of Construction
Green building is a movement dedicated to the transformation of practice in the design, operation of built environments. The objective is to reduce the negative impacts of built environments while creating healthy, comfortable, and economically prosperous places for people to live, work, and play. - U.S. Green Building Council
Green construction has been championed as the way of the future -- providing jobs, cutting energy consumption, and making efficient use of sustainable resources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as things stand now in the United States buildings account for...
- 39% of total energy use
- 12% of the total water consumption
- 68% of total electricity consumption
- 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions
Additional Green Building Information:
Visit the Why Build Green U.S. EPA webpage.
Learn about What is LEED and What is FSC.