Traditional brick school facades could become a thing of the past as educational institutions aim for sustainability. Last week, I took a look at Project FROG’s modular school design, and now Bamboo Living has announced that the first U.S. school building constructed entirely of sustainable bamboo is complete.
The 1,200 square foot building, part of Maui, Hawaii’s Hana Elementary and High School, uses bamboo that has twice the compression strength of concrete and a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel. That means it’s an ideal material for hurricane and earthquake-prone areas. In 1991, 20 bamboo houses built for the National Bamboo Foundation in Costa Rica survived a 7.5 Richter scale earthquake, and Bamboo Living homes held up against three Cook Islands hurricanes in 2005 with winds up to 175 MPH. Bamboo has one other major advantage over traditional building materials–it grows three and a half times faster than the fastest growing trees, so it is ready to be harvested in only three years.
Still, schools and homeowners would be wise to consider the environmental impact of shipping bamboo. In the case of Hana, the prefabricated bamboo building materials were shipped from Vietnam, even though the plant is grown in Hawaii.
Bamboo Living isn’t marketing its school design at the moment, but the company offers prefab homes starting at $60 per square foot.