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Bamboo, a future star of sustainable development?

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Bamboo construction has been on the rise in recent years, fueled by the chain of global laws in favor of sustainable development. If for the moment in Europe bamboo is not sufficient in itself to build habitats, the strips, powders and other fibers obtained from this universal plant offer remarkable advantages but yet still largely under-used.


Bamboo is often referred to as an "eco-material", like wood, straw, flax or hemp. The term "ecomaterial", one of the many neologisms resulting from the new wave of sustainable development, still defies any official definition on the part of the French Academy. For the moment, these are unofficially natural materials combining economic and environmental advantages, often marked by a low carbon footprint, in particular with limited emissions of greenhouse gases.

Ultra-economical, and a carbon footprint defying competition

Sustainable development often seems to bring revolutionary winds of innovation in construction, but, more often than not, only takes up ancestral methods and techniques. And bamboo is no exception to the rule. Used for hundreds of years mainly in Asia, bamboo today serves as a complete or partial habitat for a billion people.

Its strengths are many and varied: very fast growing and ultra-light, bamboo requires ten times less energy in construction than concrete. Extremely strong (27% more resistant than oak), bamboo does not rot, insulates remarkably, and is also completely recyclable. It is also well known for its “green pump” properties, trapping CO2 and releasing large amounts of oxygen.

If in Europe all these assets were pale until the end of the 20th century against all-concrete, the new environmental standards have propelled the ecological (and economic) interests of bamboo into the light, to the point of ironically making it a material of the future. Bamboo is not currently used to build entire habitats (a solution however seriously studied), but its slats ensure the construction of frames, walls, floors and even roofs.
The very modern Yaounde airport, inaugurated in 2006, is thus equipped with spectacular bamboo ceilings. Reduced to powder or fibers, bamboo also acts as a waterproofing reinforcement for plasters such as plaster. Enough to ensure a bright future for this plant with more than a thousand species.

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