Choose Bamboo!

By Tripti Mahaseth

A finished house made with climate change choices in Birtamod, Jhapa.

This year, World Environment Day is shouting, “We have ONLY ONE EARTH”! Half a century after the first World Environment Day, we find ourselves trying to halt the rise of global temperatures, and we are failing miserably. Climate scientists, activists, politicians, journalists, and regular citizens already acknowledge that we are running out of time to stop the climb in global temperatures. But is it all doom and gloom?
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one option to combat climate change is to adjust how we build and live in our homes and cities. Given that the construction industry is the world’s biggest polluter – contributing to one-third of global gas emissions – how and what we use to build will be integral to reducing climate change and essentially saving our future generations. The Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) and supporting organizations are trying to do just that by paving the way for bamboo to be recognized as a viable construction material.
This World Environment Day, let’s collectively echo UNEP’s voice and make better choices when building. Bamboo can be a local carbon dioxide sink, which absorbs up to 5 times more carbon dioxide and releases up to 35% more oxygen into our environment than trees. It grows quickly, is incredibly strong, and if treated against insect infestation and protected from sun and rain, it can be very durable. But the public perception of bamboo is that it’s a poor man’s building material. To have any effect on the climate, building with bamboo must be accepted by the public mass. We need the collective to make pro-environment choices, and a thriving green material and service market, all underpinned by transformative changes to building policies that promote sustainable green building practices. The government of Nepal will play a key role in allowing its citizens to have viable green construction material options, such as bamboo, which can be both structurally safe and affordable.
The government of Nepal has taken a giant step! DUDBC is set to develop a National Bamboo Guideline for Housing Construction in Nepal. This means that the government considers bamboo a viable building material. The minimum guidelines will be the first step toward a long-term goal of developing bamboo building codes. Countries such as Columbia, India, and Mexico are pioneers and have already developed national standards for bamboo building construction. Nepal, along with Brazil and the Philippines, is ahead of most countries in realizing the importance of validating and regulating green building construction material options such as bamboo. The guidelines will inform Nepal’s housing practitioners and homeowners on building safer, more robust, affordable, and resilient residential homes. Though many communities in Nepal are already building with bamboo, many of these homes are neither safe nor durable. Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported that 58% of homes in the Eastern Terai have walls made of untreated bamboo and bamboo structures without appropriate fastening techniques, highlighting the need for the guidelines.
Bamboo does not only have to be a “poor man’s timber”. Higher-income groups are choosing to build with this beautiful natural material. There are private firms such as Green Bamboo Creation, Rammed Earth Solutions, Adobe, and Bamboo Research Institute (ABARI) that cater to this clientele. With the government’s initiation of the guidelines, it is now time for individuals to choose to build with green gold bamboo.
Let’s make better choices to protect our “Only One Earth”.
Image module

Cement Bamboo Frame Technology is used in Dhanpalthan, in Morang District.

It’s amazing how little it costs to change a family’s prospect.

For as little as $5,000 you can fund a house in rural Nepal.

sagar poudel