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Bamboo housing touted by UBC 0

By Stephanie Chan

Researchers at UBC are trying to figure out how to use bamboo in local construction.
Martin Dee photo

Researchers at UBC are trying to figure out how to use bamboo in local construction. Martin Dee photo

University of B.C. researchers are working nationally and internationally on a better construction material — bamboo to promote sustainable development and hopefully meet future building needs. 

Due to rapid urban expansion and heavy pollution around the globe, the need for sustainability is gradually becoming significant, said Gregory Smith, a professor in UBC’s Deartment of Wood Science.

While concrete manufacturing emits large amounts of carbon dioxide, he said, utilizing bamboo as a construction material can be a substitution to reduce the carbon footprint — along with promoting the use of renewable materials, so as to help fight climate change.

“You can’t buy these yet because there’s no one in North America who’s making them,” Smith said. “I’m hoping that’s going to change.”

Smiths’ Wood Composites Group at UBC, collaborating with other researchers from international schools, is trying to mix bamboo flakes with wood flakes to make the best construction material. He hopes that 100% of materials can be converted into finished products. However, it is still challenging to break round shape of bamboos into rectangles. Smith’s group is working with a team from Cambridge on the issue of recognized building codes, which is the greatest problem encountered so far.

Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the globe. For example, giant timber bamboo is grown in four to six years, far quicker than timber takes to harvest. It is applied in window and flooring. Being stronger and having higher tensile strength than wood, bamboo is considered as a resistance in earthquake zones, Smith said.


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