Celebrating International Bamboo Day: Safe Houses for 6,000 People with a Hilti Foundation Innovation

Schaan (FL), September 14, 2022 – 1,200 low-income families have found a new home thanks to Cement Bamboo Frame Technology, a disaster-resilient construction solution developed by the Hilti Foundation.

More than 150,000 bamboo poles have been used to build safe and affordable houses with the Hilti Foundation’s innovative Cement Bamboo Frame Technology. According to a life cycle analysis, a house built in this manner lasts up to 60 years and has 60% less environmental impact compared to a conventional concrete house. This translates to a reduction of 9 tons of CO2 equivalents over the life of the bamboo building.

The innovation consists of a prefabricated and sustainable frame system, made of treated load-bearing bamboo with metal connections and mortar-cement plaster. Being tested for its resistance to earthquakes, typhoons, fires and insect infestation, the technology has high potential in all tropical countries and hazardous regions. It is particularly important in South and East Asia, the South Pacific and Central and South America, where bamboo has always been used as a building material.

Origin of Cement Bamboo Frame Technology at Hilti 

It all started in 2012 when a Hilti engineer began testing a building technology that used bamboo as the sole structural element. Later, the Hilti Foundation established the BASE Bahay Foundation and Innovation Center, in Manila, to apply and promote the safe, affordable and sustainable construction solution. So far, more than 1,200 houses have been built, mainly in the Philippines and Nepal, and large-scale construction will now be implemented together with partner organizations. 

Meanwhile, the Innovation Center has attracted strong and renowned academic and business partners from around the world: ETH Zurich from Switzerland, Coventry University from Great Britain, De La Salle University from the Philippines, and ARUP, a well-known design agency from the United Kingdom, to name a few. Together, they are conducting studies and research on bamboo as a building material, developing new application methods and also working on standards for safe use in construction.

“Adequate housing is a human right, and yet an estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide – that’s one in four – live in substandard housing. Experts predict that this number will nearly double, to 3 billion, by 2030. Creating new affordable and sustainable housing for these people is a major task that impacts not only their safety and health, but also their economic and social opportunities,” says Werner Wallner, CEO of the Hilti Foundation.

“Cement Bamboo Frame Technology is not only an affordable innovation but has less than half the environmental impact compared to cement projects. It significantly extends the lifetime of a house rather than using traditional bamboo. Together with the Hilti Foundation, we aim to create social impact at scale and promote sustainable construction methods,” comments Hilti CEO Christoph Loos. 

Since 2009, World Bamboo Day has been celebrated every September 18 to draw attention to this natural and highly renewable resource. Thanks to the Hilti Foundation’s innovative building technology, bamboo construction is becoming increasingly popular in social housing. It is extremely sustainable and 15-20% less expensive compared to conventional buildings of the same quality.