Bamboo & Construction – using a sustainable resource


The construction industry consumes almost 30% of the global energy and is responsible for 40% of global CO2 emissions. Sustainable building solutions are urgently required to support the world’s growing, and increasingly urbanised population. In order to achieve this it is imperative for the construction industry to shift from energy-intensive materials like cement and concrete, towards renewable and sustainable bio-based materials. Dr. Edwin Zea Escamilla, member of INBAR’s Construction Task Force and specialist on life cycle and sustainability assessment of construction materials and buildings, is the main-author of several scientific articles which portray the potential benefits of the use of industrialised bamboo as construction material.

Zea Escamilla’s research has shown that industrialised bamboo holds great potential not only to reduce CO2 but also to support the sustainable development of the regions producing it. His work has shown how the high levels of CO2 sequestered by bamboo, during its growth phase, will be stored on plantation due to the fact that only 25% of bamboo culms are harvested. In addition, properly designed industrialised bamboo buildings will store CO2 on their bio-based construction materials for the duration of the building’s lifespan.

Beyond its carbon credentials, industrialised bamboo also has a great potential to create jobs and improve the livelihood of communities engaged in production of bamboo. Zea Escamilla’s work on sustainable housing solutions in the Philippines estimated that a 5500-hectare of bamboo plantations could potentially generate over 28,000 jobs and save over a hundred million tonnes of CO2 equivalents, over 130 years.

Another advantage of industrialized bamboo, when compared to other low carbon materials, is its relatively short return for the establishment of production centres. This makes it an interesting option for both countries and entrepreneurs aiming to produce affordable and sustainable construction material. For all these reasons, the most recent research clearly indicates that the production and use of industrialised bamboo provides a sustainable strategy for bamboo producing countries towards the achievement of their Paris Agreement’s goals.

See more of Dr. Edwin Zea Escamilla’s research here