Bamboo for our environment
Bamboo as it is more popularly known is the tallest member in the grass family. It is one of the fastest growing plants on the earth growing reportedly up to 98inches in just 24 hours. Bamboo is mainly found in Asia, some parts of Africa and parts of Americas in many different varieties. Over centuries bamboo has been found a variety of uses like culinary, medicine, textiles, paper, construction, furniture, home décor and musical instruments.
The use of bamboo as a construction material is not new and many countries have been using it to build homes for centuries. Generally when we think of a house made of bamboo the picture that comes to mind is a small hut in a village. But, this concept is fast changing because of the global demand for environmentally friendly and sustainable building materials. Bamboo’s unique and efficient natural design makes it a good building material.
There are several advantages of bamboo that makes it a good building material:
Bamboo’s strong natural fiber makes it superior to hardwood
The versatile quality of bamboo makes it a good material for flooring, roofing, concrete reinforcement, scaffolding (used in Hong Kong for building skyscrapers), piping and for walls
Bamboo is very flexible and hence when it grows it can be defined to grow into specific shapes. Its shock absorption capacity makes it a great building material for earthquake resistant houses
Bamboo houses can also stand hurricane with wind speeds of upto 170mph
It is light in weight and thus transportation of bamboo is easy. Unlike other materials which require the use of cranes and heavy machinery, none is required when building with bamboo
When bamboo is properly maintained it can last for a very long time like wood
Bamboo is cheap and readily available in areas where it is cultivated. Transportation of bamboo is also cheaper than other materials
The most important quality of bamboo is its environmentally friendly quality. It is renewable and bamboo forests can be grown in a few years. Its naturally waxy surface does not require painting; making it safe from health hazards caused by paints (they contain toxic substances). Bamboo can be smoked in its own resin making its surface impenetrable to insects thereby protecting it from insect infestation. Bamboo can be grown in a variety of climates and houses made of bamboo do not require use of other materials like concrete, steel etc. Pesticides and other chemicals need not be used while cultivating bamboo making it more eco friendly.
Pollution is also reduced with bamboo cultivation as the plants reduce upto 35% carbon di oxide in the atmosphere and produce more oxygen. Studies have shown that of all the building materials that are used in construction bamboo is the least hazardous in terms of waste as it can be recycled and does not have disposal problems. The roots in bamboo help control soil erosion as it creates a water barrier. Developing countries use bamboo to protect their crops and villages from washing away. Bamboo consumes high quantities of nitrogen and this can help reduce water pollution. Hence, it is good to grow bamboo alongside industrial areas where it converts waste water into nutrients for its own growth. Bamboo is also known to desalinate sea water.