Building With Bamboo Can Help Cool The Climate

As the demand for lumber continues to grow, deforestation has increased, especially as forest fires rage around the world to make way for agriculture. And that’s why the construction industry should start relying more on bamboo, which could also help cool the climate.

Every year, homes and businesses generate energy bills that could be reduced simply by using different building materials.

Bamboo is a wood that not only grows fast, it has properties that help it store heat, a handy property that would definitely help keep homes heated while using less fuel.

In a study conducted by researchers from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, the thermal conductivity of bamboo was measured using a thermal microscopy scan.

According to the study published by Scientific Reports:

Bamboo grasses have evolved to rapidly deposit this combination of thick and thin layers, like a polymer composite laminate or cross-laminated timber, for combination of axial and transverse stiffness and strength. However, this architecture is found to have interesting implications on thermal transport in bamboo, which is relevant for the application of engineered bamboo in buildings.

“Renewable, plant-based materials such as bamboo have huge potential for sustainable and energy-efficient buildings”, the study continues. “Their use could dramatically reduce emissions compared to traditional materials, helping to mitigate the human impact of climate change.”

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is something the world desperately needs right now as global temperatures continue to rise. Using bamboo to make homes and buildings more energy efficient would go a long way to curb them, not to mention save trees that are traditionally cut down for construction and other purposes.

That’s because bamboo offers the strength of traditional lumber while growing much quicker, with certain species growing at a speedy rate of up to three feet in 24 hours. Most trees take years to grow that much.

“Nature is an amazing architect”, Cambridge Department of Architecture professor and lead study author Darshil Shah said in a statement. “Bamboo is structured in a really clever way. It grows by one millimetre every 90 seconds, making it one of the fastest-growing plant materials.”

However, the reason why bamboo is not as used is because its thermal conductivity makes it a higher fire risk. But Shah insists that precautions can be taken to ensure bamboo is used in ways that make it less of a risk.

“People may worry about the fire safety of bamboo buildings,” Shah said. “To address this properly we have to understand the thermal properties of the building material. Through our work, we can see that heat travels along the structure-supporting thick cell wall fibres in bamboo, so if exposed to the heat of a fire the bamboo might soften more quickly in the direction of those fibres. This helps us work out how to reinforce the building appropriately.”

Once that is worked out, bamboo becomes an even safer, cheaper and more sustainable option that will help us save trees and fight climate change at the same time.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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