Bamboo is good for house building, not just for nipa huts and handicrafts

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The production of engineered bamboo as a substitute for good lumber to help combat 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 chief environment officer said in his speech during the 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 grow up to 30 feet.

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

Bamboos are also used in the manufacture of furniture and handicrafts in the Philippines.

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

Bamboo technology

Research and innovation on the uses of bamboo are currently being carried out by various 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 lab’, called the Base Innovation Center (BIC), which focuses on alternative building materials, particularly for the social housing sector.

BIC opened earlier this year in Manila as a research and development arm of Base Bahay to ensure continuous testing and knowledge enhancement of the global 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 created 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 gave us a research advantage and opened up a multitude of partnerships,” said Pablo Jorillo, CEO 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 we can investigate 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. He is currently working with the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines to promote his 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 incorporate bamboo into the building code not only in the Philippines but also in other countries, Jorillo said.

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

Asked by the BusinessMirror via Zoom on Nov. 25, Jorillo said Base Bahay’s Cement Bamboo Frame technology, which he promotes for social housing, has been reviewed by various institutions.

It has received certification from the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing, which includes the UP Building Research Service, National Housing Authority, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines, and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.

Durable, durable, economical

Jorillo said the technology can withstand strong typhoons and earthquakes, which commonly occur in the Philippines.

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

“Untreated and exposed to the elements, bamboo can only last one to two years,” he said, adding that Yes (termites) and boukbok (wood borer) are natural enemies of bamboo.

“However, properly treated, 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 pointed out.

“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 establish a bamboo plantation and use them for their projects by applying the 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 the technology as part of their advocacy.

Fight against climate change

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

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

Bamboo grows very fast and can regenerate after being cut, unlike trees, he said.

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

China’s bamboo forest can sequester up to 1 billion tons of carbon by 2050 compared to the current estimate of 700 million tons 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 Base Bahay’s various partners are into bamboo processing and could actually plant and process bamboo into building materials for social housing using his technology.

Jorillo said 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 reliance on steel as a construction material. construction.

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 social housing or for the country to become an exporter, Jorillo said.

According to Jorillo, bamboo can also be used in building interiors as a replacement for concrete poles, as the interior of panels, in ceilings as insulation or even as tiles.

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

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

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