Bamboo Buildings | Bali’s Green Building Benchmark

Bamboo chocolate factory

As global temperatures rise, so too does the prevalence of green building across the globe. In both the first world and in developing countries, nations are delving deep into the industry sector in order to lower their countries’ carbon output and reduce the chance of drastic environmental consequences.

While the ideology is the same almost worldwide, the methodology is not, giving rise to innovative green building practices that are culturally unique and suited to specific environmental realities.

Israel’s commitment to developing a green building industry based on design principles of old is but one prime example of this. Now Bali is getting involved through the use of bamboo, which has been labeled the islands ‘emblem of sustainable construction.’

A report by the AFP demonstrated that industry members on the Indonesian island have transferred the use of bamboo from purely scaffolding purposes to using it as a key structural material that can replace concrete and steel.

The material’s light weight and strength have boosted its popularity, with specialty food farm Big Trees Farm co-founder Ben Ripple citing its positive features as ‘unmatched.’

Big Farm is behind the development of what is being reported as the world’s biggest bamboo structure, a 2,550 square metre organic, fair trade drinking chocolate and cocoa butter factory in the village of Sibang Kaja.

Bamboo chocolate factory interior

“Bamboo is unmatched as a sustainable building material. What it can do is remarkable,” says Ripple. “It grows far more quickly than timber and doesn’t destroy the land it’s grown on.”

Ripple went on to note the building material’s low environmental impact; bamboo does not damage the rice paddies upon which it is found.

The report acknowledges, however, that while bamboo is light and strong, it is not highly durable, with rot and flammability two major drawbacks. Ripple points out, however, that the majority of the issues facing bamboo can be dealt with.

“A friend we work with here always says bamboo needs a hat, rain jacket and boots,” he says. “We’re lacking on the rain jacket a bit, but we’re looking at non-toxic materials to give it some protection.”

These drawbacks to using bamboo are not enough to turn the village of Sibang away from the material. The community is home to a green school where the children learn on bamboo furniture and most go home at the end of the day to one of the village’s many bamboo homes.

It is incredibly positive in this industry to see different countries adapting to our world’s changing temperature and using their unique skills to tackle a global problem. If the durability issues can be solved, Bali may just have a long and successful industry reliant on bamboo.

By Jane Parkins
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