Bamboo : Green Building Material
Bamboo is an important element of the balance of atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide storage capacity of bamboo is four times than hardwood, 35% of oxygen release than trees. Bamboo mesh roots can prevent soil erosion. Its rapid growth, without chemical fertilizers pesticides, 3 - 5 years to be harvested. These "green" features make bamboo to be loved by architects and environmentalists and it has the trend to replace the traditional wood by bamboo.
In 1880, Thomas Edison used carbonized bamboo filaments in his first light bulb which is stored in the Smithsonian Museum, and still is able to light. However, over the years, bamboo has been considered a "poor man's timber" which applies only to the cheap outdoor furniture or low-end restaurant decorated. In India, rich people use stone to build the house. Middle castes use wood. Only poor people used bamboo.
Today, bamboo is re-examined by western world with a wide range of uses, low prices and a favorable ecological environment characteristics. It can be said that the bamboo completely get rid of the cheap low-end label. Bamboo is the material choice for flooring, snowboard, building, bike, or even clothing.
Looks like the tree, bamboo is actually one of a particularly tall grass, Gramineae family. Bamboo has a wide range of species, and some slender delicate-height shrubs, some growing up like trees, more than 100 feet. Its roots can be extended very far, even covered the whole garden. The bamboo is also a very sturdy plant, it can endure extreme weather like 30-250 inches annual rainfall, strong root system issued bamboo shoots every year without planting. Bamboo can grow in temperate and tropical climates, on the beach, even in a mountain 13,000 feet above sea level.
Although widely distributed, but bamboo began to disappear in many countries. In 1976, the Brazilian bamboo forest area covers 85,000 square kilometers, only 32,000 square kilometers in 1983. Some people worry that Brazil bamboo will completely disappear within the next 10 years.
Bamboo is an ultimate green material. It grows without fertilizers and pesticides, short growth cycle, the fastest growth of plants in the world, some species can grow to 1 meter per day. Hardwood tree may take centuries to mature, cork also need 10 to 20 years to be harvested, but bamboo just grow 3-5 years. In Costa Rica, an area of 60 hectares of bamboo forest can provide materials to build up 1000 houses every year. If the same construction project with wood, it needs 500 hectares of tropical wood forest.
Bamboo with different ages have different purposes. The 30 days of bamboo shoots is a delicious ingredients. 6-9 months of tender bamboo can be used to weave baskets. 2-3 years of bamboo for cutting boards and furniture. 3-6 years of bamboo can be used as building materials. More than 6 years bamboo gradually become brittle and lose strength.