Bamboo is good for building houses, not just nipa huts and crafts

The production of engineered bamboo as a substitute for good wood to help fight deforestation and climate change, among others, has been considered by Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

“Bamboo reduces the need for wood resources and contributes greatly to carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation and low-cost rehabilitation of degraded lands,” the environment chief said in his speech at the conference. First Asean Bamboo Congress in 2019.

Giant grass

Bamboos are not trees. They are “giant grasses” belonging to the grass family.

They are among the fastest growing plants in the world. Some species of bamboo can reach 30 feet tall.

Bamboos are an important economic resource because they can be used as building materials, as a food source and as a versatile raw product.

Bamboos are also used in making furniture and crafts in the Philippines.

Its most common species in the country are kawayan tinik, buho, giant bamboo and bulo.

Bamboo technology

Research and innovations on the uses of bamboo are currently being carried out by different sectors, including the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology and the private sector.

The Base Bahay Foundation Inc. is raising the profile of bamboo which is traditionally used in the country in the construction of nipa huts, as a sustainable building material through research and innovation, and to reintroduce it into traditional construction .

The foundation has created a “bamboo laboratory” called the Base Innovation Center (BIC), which focuses on alternative building materials, especially for the social housing sector.

BIC opened earlier this year in Manila as the research and development arm of Base Bahay to ensure continuous improvement in testing and knowledge on the overall application of the foundation’s Cement Bamboo Frame technology. .

Building sustainable communities

Partnering with like-minded organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, to build sustainable communities with affordable housing across the Philippines, Base Bahay has so far established 12 communities and provided livelihoods to approximately 1,000 families, or more than 5,000 people using the foundation’s unique technology. .

“The creation of BIC has given us an advantage in terms of research and has opened up a multitude of partnerships,” said Pablo Jorillo, Managing Director of Base Bahay.

“BIC allows our partners to see what we can offer them and allows us to elaborate on the different construction methods and design elements that we can study for bamboo, such as wind and seismic designs,” added Jorillo.

Integration of bamboo construction

One of the main objectives of Base Bahay is the creation of a national structural code for bamboo. She is currently working with the Philippine Association of Structural Engineers to promote her draft code.

This decision was further encouraged by the publication in June of a new standard on a structural design using bamboo poles by the International Organization for Standardization 22156: 2021.

“This step is an important step for the integration of bamboo [as] construction [material] around the world, ”Jorillo said.

Base Bahay aims to get bamboo into the building code, not only in the Philippines, but in other countries as well, Jorillo said.

Currently, BIC’s research focuses on a variety of projects, including the characterization of five different bamboo species in the Philippines, on which it is working closely with De La Salle University-Manila.

Interviewed by BusinessMirror via Zoom on November 25, Jorillo said that Base Bahay’s Cement Bamboo Frame technology, which it promotes for socialized housing, has been reviewed by various institutions.

It has received a certification of the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing, which includes the UP Building Research Service, the National Housing Authority, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Authority of Philippine Construction Industry and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Council.

Durable, durable, economical

Jorillo said the technology can withstand powerful typhoons and earthquakes, which typically occur in the Philippines.

He adds that with the treatment process developed by BIC, it can last 25 years.

“Untreated and exposed to the elements, bamboo can only last a year to two years,” he said, adding that Hello (termite) and bukbok (wood moth) are natural enemies of bamboo.

“However, properly processed, it is clear that the minimum lifespan of bamboo is 25 years,” Jorillo told BusinessMirror.

Using bamboo instead of steel also saves a lot of money in social housing, Jorillo said.

“When we applied for accreditation, we offered a cost comparison between using hollow concrete blocks and bamboo. [Bamboo use] saved about 37%, ”he said.

He said savings in construction can be greater if more bamboo materials are used, such as in social housing.

Communities can save more, he said, if they create a bamboo plantation and use it for their projects by applying Cement Bamboo Frame technology, which he added can be used for free.

He said Base Bahay actually teaches communities how to process bamboo and use technology as part of their advocacy.

Fight against climate change

Jorillo said promoting bamboo as an alternative building material to wood is good for the environment and helps fight climate change.

Planting bamboo alone, he said, means increasing the capacity for carbon sequestration.

Bamboo grows very quickly and can regenerate after cutting, unlike trees, he said.

It can be harvested every two or three years, which means the supply can be sustainable, he said.

China’s bamboo forest can sequester carbon up to 1 billion tonnes by 2050, up from 700 million tonnes currently estimated in 2010.

Like wood, bamboo’s carbon sequestration capacity is infinite as long as it is preserved and used in construction.

Economic opportunity

Jorillo said that Base Bahay’s various partners specialize in processing bamboo and could actually plant and process bamboo into building materials for social housing using its technology.

Jorillo said that the DTI and the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council are working to increase the number or area of ​​bamboo plantations in the Philippines to help reduce the country’s dependence on steel as a building material. .

In 2021, the area planted with bamboo in the country is 84,000 hectares, but this is still not enough to promote its use in socialized housing or for the country to become an exporter, Jorillo said.

According to Jorillo, bamboo can also be used in building interiors as a substitute for the concrete post, as a panel interior, in the ceiling as an insulation, or even as a tile.

Processed bamboo, like plywood, can also be used in construction, he added.

Under the leadership of Chief Environment Officer Cimatu, bamboo is a priority planting material for the national greening program, which will give it a boost.

Image courtesy of the Hilti Foundation / Photo by Base Bahay

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