The virtual, first-of-its-kind Engineered Bamboo for Sustainable Construction Conference UBC Forestry co-hosted earlier this spring with World Bamboo Organization and Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University attracted over 800 registrants representing 84 countries from around the world. Among the most represented countries at the event were India, the Philippines, U.S.A., Canada and China.
Conference organizing committee member, Commonwealth Forestry Association President and UBC Forestry Professor John Innes says he was not surprised to see the extent of the event’s overall impact.
“In planning this, we instinctively knew the topic would be of widespread interest. It was great to see the amount of engagement and learning that took place,” says Innes.
As one of the conference’s chairs and participants, Innes maintains that the conference’s range of speakers and topics, including the rapidly growing use of engineered bamboo in construction and the development of the circular economy, were important reasons why participants stayed highly engrossed in discussions all three days of the event.
“Throughout the course of the conference, we saw little drop-off and many questions asked. More than 200 questions in total were posted. In comparison to other virtual international conferences, that number seems quite high,” reports Innes.
Bamboo Applications and Manufacturing (BAM) Team
Building on lessons learned from the conference, Dr. Chunping Dai, Conference Co-chair, UBC Forestry Bamboo Applications and Manufacturing (BAM) lab leader and wood science associate professor, is fine-tuning his team’s research program.
“The discussions that took place at our conference will help guide the group’s ongoing research in meeting the high demands for sustainable material development.”
Dai’s lab’s current research areas include the utilization of bamboo and other natural fibres for sustainable construction and packaging, among others.
“We will continue to explore all of the benefits of bamboo, which includes fast growth and high carbon sink potential that could help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions,” says Dai.
Bamboo is being increasingly used in everyday products around the world. Within Canada and the U.S., the use of bamboo as a building product is growing, says Dai who cites examples such as North America’s recreation property industry.
“There’s a company in Ontario, for example, looking at replicating what some companies in Hawaii do already where they build beautiful vacation homes out of bamboo. Here in B.C. smaller enterprises are exploring the use of bamboo or engineered bamboo hybrid products that combine bamboo with wood for better overall performance.”
“The bottom line is the demand for bamboo and skilled professionals is going to grow and UBC Forestry is in a unique position to continue to deliver on research, innovation and education to meet that demand,” says Dai.