“Bio-based materials may represent our best hope for radical decarbonization through the responsible management of carbon cycles.”
Bio-Based Building Materials Are Set to Dominate Climate Change
In a recent and groundbreaking move, the United Nations (UN) has unveiled a comprehensive report that focuses on the pivotal transition to bio-based building materials, with a spotlight on renewable bamboo. This report highlights the significance of departing from traditional building materials such as legacy concrete and steel, urging a shift towards sustainable, renewable alternatives. Furthermore, it underlines the pressing need for innovative approaches to resource management that not only slash carbon emissions but also serve as incentives for biodiversity and the well-being of our precious ecosystems.
The report acknowledges the historic lack of funding and policy focus on reducing embodied carbon emissions within the built environment. It strongly emphasizes the need to establish new collaborative models for advancing the decarbonization of building materials. These models are imperative to fulfill the world's ambitious targets of achieving net-zero emissions from the built environment sector by the mid-century.
Embracing Regenerative Material Practices
“One of the most important opportunities for synergistic potential to decarbonize the sector lies with the ability to link the production of building materials with the management of carbon cycles of forests and agricultural lands.”
A key takeaway from this report is the imperative to shift towards regenerative material practices at every opportunity. This entails prioritizing the use of ethically-produced, low-carbon earth- and bio-based building materials. And to advance the increased use of regenerative, circular biomaterials from forest and agriculture streams. The core objective is to harness these materials to not only construct resilient and eco-friendly structures but also to champion ethical production methods that align with our planet's sustainability goals.
The transition to these regenerative materials signifies a remarkable stride in our ongoing battle against climate change. By steering away from carbon-intensive materials and embracing renewable, regenerative alternatives, we can significantly reduce our environmental footprint while promoting the health and diversity of our ecosystems.
“The shift towards properly managed regenerative bio-based materials could lead to compounded emission savings in the sector of up to 40 percent by 2050 in many regions, even when compared to savings from low-carbon concrete and steel.”
“Bamboo is a fast-growing renewable resource that has witnessed significant advances as a scalable building material in the last two decades.”
We are excited to see that one of the report's key takeaways is the innovation surrounding bamboo. As you may know, Global Bamboo Technologies (dba BamCore) has been innovating framing systems with engineered timber bamboo for some time. The report notes that progress in engineered bamboo has demonstrated structural performance similar to cross-laminated timber and steel.
We want to share that recent tests of our Prime Wall™ have proven it to be twice as strong as conventional 2 x 6 framing for low-rise construction. Furthermore, our in-development Mass Timber Bamboo (MTB)™ has shown greater rigidity (up to 98% at the same thickness), a slimmer profile (up to 27% thinner while maintaining equivalent stiffness), and reduced weight (up to 17% lighter with similar stiffness) compared to Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). This breakthrough opens the door for using bamboo in large-scale structural applications, offering a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to carbon-intensive materials.
We were also pleased to see the UN report address the need for incentives to prioritize progress in “green chemistry” to develop non-toxic binders and glues. BamCore has been on the hunt for someone to develop an adhesive that will be code-compliant for load-bearing structural applications. While our patented bamboo technology requires less adhesive than other engineered wood products (EWP), eliminating toxic and high-embodied carbon materials in the built environment is a crucial driver in the BamCore mission. Policy and incentives would go a long way to getting big companies on board with developing greener alternatives.
Sustainable Supply Chains
To ensure the sustainability of bamboo sourcing, the report stresses the importance of regulations that prevent practices like the clear-cutting of forests. It also advocates for transparency throughout the bamboo supply chain. These measures are essential to maintain ecological balance and protect biodiversity. BamCore has been a forerunner in this sector with years of research on species, locations, and developing a small sustainable global supply chain that encourages biodiversity and provides prosperity in remote villages in the Global South. Growing the bamboo supply chain has multiple economic and ecological benefits for all stakeholders.
Reducing Carbon Emissions & Regenerative Resource Management
Perhaps the most significant contribution of bamboo in construction is its potential to reduce carbon emissions significantly. When used as a building material, bamboo offers a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional materials like legacy concrete and steel. It takes the stress off of old-growth forests to supply the ever-increasing demand for wood timber. This shift can play a crucial role in achieving carbon neutrality in the construction industry. For a more in-depth view, we invite you to read our thought leadership paper, Carbon Farming with Timber Bamboo.
The report's overarching message is the need for regenerative approaches to resource management. It's not just about using bamboo; it's about using it sustainably and incentivizing practices that promote biodiversity and ecological health. This holistic approach recognizes the interconnectedness of nature and human activity.
In essence, building materials are poised to become trailblazers in our collective effort to combat climate change. Through innovative practices and a steadfast commitment to sustainability, we have the power to redefine the construction industry and pave the way for a greener, more environmentally conscious future. The UN's report on bamboo and the shift to bio-based building materials is a significant milestone in the quest for sustainable and environmentally friendly construction practices. Bamboo's versatility, rapid growth, ability to grow on degraded lands, and carbon-reduction potential make it a standout candidate in the effort to mitigate climate change. However, the success of this transition depends on a combination of innovation, sustainable sourcing, and a commitment to regenerative resource management. As we move forward, bamboo may very well be at the forefront of the green building revolution, helping us build a more sustainable and resilient future.