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  • Writer's pictureBritney Heerten

Is Bamboo the New Steel?

Updated: Jun 6

With the right amount of research and testing, bamboo can be a game changer for the construction industry. Bamboo's properties make it a suitable substitute for several materials used in construction.

Because of bamboo's high tensile strength, it can be used as concrete reinforcement instead of using steel. It also has the compressive strength of concrete. Builders will need more product data before easily specifying a material like bamboo in place of steel. Hopefully bamboo will become a more mainstream building material soon

Without proper treatment, the bamboo will not last due to elements such as fungus and insects. Bamboo has been used as a building material for a very long time. It was one of the original building materials.

Because bamboo must be treated for construction use, it is important that we use environmentally safe methods to treat bamboo. Current ways of treating bamboo include "saltwater baths, injecting the stalks with borax/boric acid solution, or heat preservation," says Homestead Hawaii. Also, the bamboo must be dried properly after treatment. Keeping the bamboo dry and protected from the elements will also make the bamboo last longer.

Only certain types of bamboo can be used in construction. The most common types of bamboo that can be used in construction are Guadua, Dendrocalamus, Bambusa, and Phyllostachys.

Architect, Elora Hardy owns IBUKU, a sustainable Architecture firm in Bali where she builds homes from bamboo. She speaks about the unconventional building techniques required for working bamboo. There are no straight lines or 90-degree angles. Every bamboo shoot is different, which causes you to have to work around their forms, asking the bamboo what it wants to be instead of what you want it to be.

Some types of bamboo shoots can even be cooked and eaten, but that is another topic. It sounds like bamboo has the potential to save the world.

Pros of using Bamboo:

Replenishes quickly

Readily available




Better at absorbing seismic activity





Takes in Carbon Dioxide instead of putting it out

Will employee many

Sanctuary for animals



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