A brief look into new trends or points of discussion in the real estate industry.


Bamboo as a building material?

If you have recently replaced the flooring in your home, you may have considered bamboo as an option. Since it is amazingly strong and grows significantly faster than trees, many have turned to bamboo as a viable alternative to hardwood floors. While the product continues to impress in the flooring industry, a select group has begun using the material for structural reinforcement as an replacement for wood or steel.

Following a 1999 earthquake in Columbia, a local cathedral in the town of Pereira was completely devastated and determined unsuitable for use. Columbian architect Simon Velez was responsible for constructing a temporary cathedral in its place and chose to use bamboo. When the time came to demolish the temporary structure in order to replace it with a permanent cathedral made of concrete, the bamboo proved virtually indestructable and could not be destroyed by any means other than being blown up, a testament to the amazingly durable qualities of bamboo.

An estimated one billion people worldwide reside in structures built of bamboo. Builders in the United States, however, are reluctant to use bamboo as an alternative to the traditional wood and steel. Builders seem to prefer to use products that are “tried and true” rather than a relatively new product such as bamboo. However, bamboo is especially notable for being lightweight, flexible and strong. Bamboo has the same strength to weight ratio as steel and, unlike trees, can be harvested every four to six years and does not require replanting.

Bamboo, though not yet adopted as a structural building material, provides an excellent alternative for flooring for the environmentally conscious. Further, from an aesthetic standpoint, the product offers a unique and modern look not available with other materials. Since bamboo is not yet a building option, those looking for a “green” material with structural qualities far exceeding or equivalent to more traditional options (e.g. wood, concrete or steel) in addition to a modern look may want to strongly consider bamboo as an alternative.


“Bamboo in Construction: Is the Grass Always Greener?.” 2006. Environmental Building Network.

28 Sept 2006. http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=150301a.xml.

“The Houses Bamboo Built.” Hannah Lobel. 2006. UTNE.

28 Sept 2006.