Much progress on the bamboo front

The past two weeks were the culmination of many parallel efforts going on for several weeks and months. It was hectic, fun, challenging, satisfying and developmental for the entire CO2 Bambu team.

We closed on a timely cash infusion from our Swiss backers. With this, we can focus on the work of building up bamboo inventory and capturing customer contracts, while making needed investment in some key equipment for the business.

Re customer contracts, we are experiencing a significant shift in our priorities and opportunities to develop the business. For the past several months, we have been focusing on developing solutions to satisfy the housing needs of Nicaraguan impoverished communities on the Atlantic Coast of the country, RAAN. Due to RAAN’s geographic profile, the need there is for houses that are off the ground (to protect against flooding), resistant to high winds (hurricanes are frequent in this area) and resistant to seismic activities. Well, these “specs” are exactly the ones required to assist in Haiti’s reconstruction.

The world of bamboo is moving aggressively to contribute to Haiti’s reconstruction. CO2 Bambu was selected by the World Bamboo Organization to become a member of the team they are putting together to introduce low cost bamboo housing into the mix of solutions to provide housing for the hundreds of thousands that have been rendered homeless by the January 12 earthquake. The proximity of Nicaragua’s location, the extensive stock of bamboo in Nicaragua, and CO2 Bambu’s ability to ramp up industrially were critical in WBO’s decision to work us. Now, we are actively pursuing donors and NGOs that will fund Haiti Reconstruction. Several bids are in the pipeline.

One critical piece of the puzzle was the confirmation that we could have access and get good results from a large plywood press that exists in RAAN, near to current bamboo fields. This past week, we confirmed that the press does indeed work adequately for our need. So now it’s all about process improvements, quality improvement, cost reduction etc…

There is also a lot happening on the extraction and reforestation front. Gib, CO2 Bambu’s Director of Bamboo Science was setting up camp in the bamboo fields up North, improving our processes and organizing activities, before returning to the provincial capital of Matagalpa to give a seminar on bamboo processing “best practices” to a cadre of forestry officials.

Another critical activity this past couple of weeks has been the construction of the very model which will be our main housing solution for Haiti, for this first generation of houses. It’s a house that combines bamboo panels for floors, bamboo panels for walls, bamboo doors and windows, bamboo ceiling and bamboo roofing structure. For now, it also includes a timber frame. As soon as feasible, we intend to migrate to a bamboo frame as well.

The 47m2 pre-fabricated Guadua house was assembled and constructed on schedule. We hosted our first Nicaraguan customers on March 2nd and they declared the house “hermosita” (beautiful). The CO2 Bambu team rallied brilliantly for this first big time challenge.

What is particularly exciting about this house is that it is, we believe, the first of its kind to incorporate as its primary “building block” plywood panels, a.k.a. “plyboo”. With every house built out of plyboo, it’s one less house built out of concrete. The carbon footprint of plyboo houses is massively reduced compared to traditional concrete block houses.

For more info on CO2 Bambu’s “Casa de Guadua y Madera”, see www.co2bambu.com

2 thoughts on “Much progress on the bamboo front

  1. giladros

    Very nice! Many houses in Cambodia also have this type of elevated design, but I guess it is common in many places. The ground floor is perfect for hanging out when it is hot (most of the time in Cambodia…) since there is shade, but it is still open on all directions.