Environmental Savings Potential from the Use of Bahareque (Mortar Cement Plastered Bamboo) In Switzerland


Edwin Zea Escamilla, ETH Zurich
Guillaume Habert, ETH Zurich
Luis Felipe López, Base Bahay Foundation Inc.


The urgency for energy and material efficiency in the building sector increases every day. In the case of Switzerland, a building’s main energy demand occurs during its use/operation phase and is mainly related to heating demands during the winter season. As a means of reducing these demands, the current building practice in Switzerland is to insulate with 30cm of foam and to mechanically control indoor environments. Recent research has shown, however, that alternatives to current practice are readily available. With these alternative techniques, natural materials with low embodied energy are used to produce high-efficiency building envelopes. The bahareque construction method (bamboo plastered with mortar cement) studied in this paper has been identified as a promising technology both in terms of producing energy-efficient building envelopes and also with regards to reducing the environmental impact associated with the construction of buildings in Switzerland. The main objective of the research presented here was to identify the Environmental Savings Potential (ESP) of bahareque in comparison with state-of-the-art technologies in Switzerland. The calculations were geographically limited to Switzerland and the main data sets used for the life cycle assessment models corresponded to this region. Specific datasets were developed for bamboo and bahareque to account for transoceanic transportation. The results showed that bahareque achieves an ESP of 32% compared with clay brick construction and 40% when compared with concrete block construction. It was shown that it is feasible to develop highly efficient building envelopes with low embodied energy that can be used within the Swiss context.


Sustainable Housing


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