Bamboo: The new kid on the block

Vancouver’s University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers are working on the global scene to create a better construction material, bamboo. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable choices as construction material and is preferred over wood.

Gregory Smith, UBC’s professor in the wood science department, explains that the need for sustainability is becoming paramount given the rapid urban expansion and heavy pollution around the globe.

Concrete, during manufacturing, emits large amounts of carbon dioxide. Bamboo, being a renewable material, reduces the carbon footprint, thereby fighting climate change. As of now, the science of Bamboo Building Blocks is still in the research stage as no one is making them even in North America.

The UBC group is collaborating with other researchers worldwide to try and mix bamboo flakes with wood flakes to create the best construction material. They hope that 100 per cent of the raw material can be converted into finished products.

Like putting a square peg in a round hole, the challenge with using bamboo is to break the round shape of bamboo and create rectangles. Also, satisfying building codes which are geared for other products is proving difficult with bamboo. Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world.

A giant timber bamboo takes only four to six years to grow, which is far quicker than timber. Bamboo is already in use in window, flooring and furniture, and it is only a matter of time before this new kid on the building block will also make its foray into the actual building of homes.

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