ThinkBamboo Podcast: Season 1, Episode 3
The third episode of the ThinkBamboo Podcast we feature an insightful interview with Luke D Schüette, Founder & CEO of ReNüTeq, a company based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Luke is a seasoned entrepreneur and architect with a background in structural engineering. For the last 15 years, his focus has been on testing and researching bamboo, including different species and adhesives. In the interview, Luke talks about using Structural Engineered Bamboo (SEB) as an alternative to traditional building materials such as metal and wood.
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Video Interview – Sustainable Structural Bamboo
Video Summary overview:
[00:06] Structurally Engineered Bamboo (SEB). Metal & Wood alternative for building structures.
[05:09] Bamboo is an accepted material in ASTM standards and is renewable.
[09:58] US controls entire supply chain for processed wood products
[14:16] Bamboo is a diverse and strong material for building
[18:15] Radial lamination patent optimizes bamboo slats for highest strength and uniformity.
[00:44] Structurally engineered bamboo has high strength-to-weight ratio
[26:24] Bamboo is a renewable and structural material with high deflection ratings.
[30:25] Structurally engineered bamboo is a more sustainable alternative to iron and aluminum.
Luke D Schüette Background
Luke’s interest in bamboo began during his studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale when he was introduced to the work of Buckminster Fuller, known for his dome structures. Luke made prototypes of engineered bamboo structures right after graduation and has been working on perfecting the process ever since.
Bamboo is an excellent building material due to its quick growth, strength, lightweight nature, and flexibility, making it ideal for earthquake-resistant structures. It’s also sustainable because it’s a renewable resource that doesn’t require replanting after harvesting.
Luke discusses the challenges of working with bamboo, such as the need for specialized machinery and sourcing high-quality bamboo. However, he believes that the benefits of using bamboo far outweigh the challenges and is committed to promoting it as a sustainable building material.
Advantages of using Bamboo
- Eco-friendly alternative to exiting materials
- Better thermal performance
Bamboo offers several advantages as a building material. Firstly, its renewability allows for regional sourcing. Unlike wood, which is often shipped worldwide and processed in other countries, bamboo can be directly sourced from South America and processed in the United States, ensuring better control over the supply chain.
Moreover, bamboo’s uniform slat stock facilitates efficient production of glulam beams, widely used in structural applications. Additionally, bamboo serves as an eco-friendly alternative to aluminum in glass systems, providing superior thermal performance.
However, one of the main challenges in using bamboo is overcoming the perception that it is only suitable for cutting boards and flooring. There are over 1600 different species of bamboo, each with unique properties, and some species are suitable for high-strength structural applications. While the cost of using bamboo as a building material is comparable to other materials, there is a lack of awareness and education about its uses.
JJ asked Luke about the specific type of bamboo he uses, and Luke explained that they exclusively use Guadua angustifolia bamboo, which is a type of Latin American bamboo. This bamboo is strong and durable, making it suitable for various construction projects.
Bamboo Sequesters 10x Carbon vs Trees
Guadua Angustifolia Bamboo
ReNüTeq’s SEB (Structural Engineered Bamboo) products, sourced from Latin America, utilize Guadua bamboo, known for its remarkable strength and rapid growth. This bamboo species is more than twice as strong as any other, making it an ideal resource for the building industry. ReNüTeq processes the selected bamboo culm in their facilities located in Ecuador and Colombia.
Furthermore, Guadua bamboo plays a crucial role in stabilizing and enriching the soil. Unlike timber, which leads to soil instability and erosion upon harvest, Guadua bamboo maintains its root system throughout growth and harvest. This distinction is significant, as the removal of old growth and timber farms results in the loss of quality top soil and hinders the regrowth of vegetation. Such instances have been observed globally, including in India, Asia, and Central/South America.
Comparison: Carbon storage per m 3
Carbon footprint of SEB
During the interview, experts unanimously confirm that bamboo has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to materials like iron and aluminum. They emphasize that bamboo’s sustainability and regenerative nature stem from its ability to be grown and pruned without harming the entire plant.
Overall, the discussion highlights the of bamboo as a renewable and sustainable alternative to conventional building materials. Luke’s experience and knowledge provide valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of working with bamboo as a building material. As the world faces an urgent need to transition to more sustainable practices, bamboo is emerging as a promising solution for creating eco-friendly structures.