Making bamboo a sustainable building material

To be the world authority on the use of bamboo and other sustainable materials for the construction of buildings and, in the distant future, to establish a ‘bamboo university’ which will become the global center of learning about all that this species of grass has to offer.
Use innovation. At the base’s Innovation Center, CTO Luis Felipe Lopez (shown in the photo) is performing tests to assess the mechanical properties of different types of bamboo that will fuel the creation of a national bamboo building code and integrate it into the mainstream as a sustainable product. Building material.

Both of these are part of the vision and mission of the nonprofit Base Bahay Foundation, Inc. As an advocate for the use of bamboo and other renewable resources as building materials, Base loves to dream. big.

Bamboo lab

To nurture these dreams and bring them closer to reality, Base Bahay relies on a unique component of its organization: a “bamboo laboratory” called the Base Innovation Center (BIC). “You can’t find a lab like this anywhere else in the world – a lab that focuses on alternative building materials, especially for the social housing sector,” said Luis Felipe López, who heads the BIC as director, with engineers and students from partner universities conducting their own research. BIC officially opened its doors earlier this year in Manila. This is the research and development arm of Base Bahay and seeks to further improve the overall application of the foundation’s Cement Bamboo Frame technology, explained Maricen Jalandoni, Chairman of Base Bahay and Chairman of the Board of administration. “Through continuous research and innovation, Base Bahay is able to establish itself as the leader in bamboo technology,” Jalandoni said.

National Building Code for Bamboo Eyes

Much of the research BIC does involves testing bamboo to assess its mechanical properties, López explained. Knowing this allows local authorities to have design values ​​for bamboo that allow for the creation of a national building code for bamboo. The code could be used by structural engineers to determine the design of the housing structure that will be constructed using the Bahay Base Cement Bamboo Frame. Currently, the foundation partners with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to build sustainable communities with affordable housing across the Philippines. So far, they have created 12 of these communities, which house and support around 1,000 families, or more than 5,000 people. “The creation of BIC has given us an advantage in terms of research and has opened up a multitude of partnerships,” said Pablo Jorillo, Managing Director of Base Bahay. “BIC allows our partners to see what we can offer them on the different construction methods and design elements that we can study for bamboo, such as wind design and seismic design. BIC also aims for its research to help bring the use of bamboo into the mainstream by making it part of the building code not only of the Philippines but other countries as well, Jorillo said.

Bamboo species

Basic research is currently touching on a variety of topics, including the characterization of five different bamboo species in the Philippines, which they are working on in close collaboration with De La Salle University in Manila. Base worked with Coventry University in the UK to implement the ISO 19624 bamboo classification, a standard that allows bamboo growers to have a better classification of their poles. With Mara University Malaysia, Base is also carrying out the characterization of some species of Malaysian bamboo. Another important topic that Base is exploring, in collaboration with ETH Zurich, is the life cycle analysis of bamboo and cement frame constructions. This research will provide a better understanding of the carbon embedded in this type of construction.

Bamboo structural design guide

The BIC, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, Coventry University and Arup, is producing a guide to structural design of bamboo, which will cover load tables for bamboo similar to those commonly used for steel and drink. These tables will reduce the need for repetitive calculations and allow rapid calculation of minimum design requirements.

Making bamboo a sustainable building material

And the ultimate dream? Become the World Bamboo University, to provide lifelong, multi-level learning about bamboo and renewable building materials across the entire infrastructure value chain, from workers to engineers to designers. “BIC is pushing Base Bahay forward,” Jorillo promised. “The innovation we do is a springboard for us to do more. ”

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