STAKEHOLDERS in the bamboo industry are pushing for the mainstream integration of bamboo in construction, recognizing its potential to produce sustainable housing and public facilities.

To advance this agenda, Bukidnon Rep. Jose Manuel F. Alba filed House Bill 9144, or An Act Integrating Bamboo as a Sustainable Material for the Built Environment. The bill encompasses the development of the Bamboo Architectural Code and Bamboo Structural Code.

During the “Beyond Bamboo: Bridging Green Construction in Codes and Standards” forum on June 7, Mr. Alba emphasized the necessity of these codes, which will provide standards to ensure the architectural and structural integrity and safety of bamboo in construction.

The bill also mandates the inclusion of bamboo in government infrastructure projects, with the expectation that private developers will follow suit.

Mr. Alba highlighted the establishment of a certification process, aiming to guarantee the quality of materials and foster consumer confidence in bamboo as a reliable and sustainable building material.

These initiatives are envisioned to open up new export markets, attract foreign investments, and stimulate economic growth, all while promoting sustainable practices.

Mr. Alba noted that Bukidnon boasts approximately 18,000 hectares of planted bamboo, as reported by a study from Central Mindanao University.

He also mentioned initiatives in his district where local farmers harvest bamboo poles, process them into slats, and store them in water for later conversion into bamboo films.

Lessandro Estelito O. Garciano, a professor at De La Salle University, expressed hopes of publishing the National Structural Code of the Philippines, which will include a structural code for bamboo, within the year. This effort aims to position the Philippines among countries with established structural bamboo codes, he said.

Base Bahay’s Head of Technology Director Luis Felipe Lopez cited the UN-Habitat Philippines Country Report 2023, projecting a 22 million housing backlog by 2040. Base Bahay, a non-profit organization initiated by the Hilti Foundation, advocates for alternative building technologies to address this gap.

Base Bahay said it uses cement-bamboo frame technology, reducing carbon emissions by 60% to 80% compared to conventional construction methods. The organization added that it has built over 1,600 homes using this technology across various locations in the Philippines.

Base Bahay also undertakes non-residential projects such as community centers, school buildings, and offices.

Base Bahay’s Mr. Lopez also highlighted the resilience of bamboo-made houses, citing successful tests during severe weather conditions like Typhoon Glenda. — Aubrey Rose A. Inosante