Construction, like agriculture, is a necessary human imposition onto the natural world. As our population grows and our infrastructure needs increase, our building practices become outdated. There is a certain necessity to innovate and expand our construction practices. This means several things in the context of sustainable construction; primarily, responsibly sourcing materials that have a lower environmental impact than what was previously used. This can be  challenging to accurately measure for many construction projects in the United States and across the world.

The construction industry is primarily driven by two things: cost and efficiency. A large project flaring over-budget like wildfire could burn a development down in its tracks, which is no-good for anyone involved. This makes determining the cheapest and most efficient sourcing of raw materials, transportation, and development a top priority. This also means the suppliers of each of these elements are actively competing amongst one another to provide the cheapest service. In many of these cases, the ecosystem ultimately pays the price. [1]

While the desire to increase sustainability in construction is a popular talking point for many construction projects, there is very little concrete action occurring to shift towards true change. For many companies the bottom line is simply a loss of cost efficiency, but the problem is more complex than it may seem at that level. Using lumber as an example, which experiences a record-high cost of $1,670 per thousand board feet in 2021, the issue wasn’t necessarily a complete lack of lumber, but rather with supply chain impediments. [2]

Many United States construction companies became dependent on lumber imported from China which was much cheaper than U.S. companies due to lack of environmental regulation. This dependence steadily led to several U.S. lumber companies shutting down production. Hundreds of American hardwood mills across the states closed and in turn hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost. At the beginning of COVID, Chinese ports shut down and the lumber market’s supply was greatly reduced, causing a massive spike in lumber prices. United States construction was reliant on relatively cheap and abundant Chinese lumber imports and was unable to pivot in time to meet the overwhelming demand for lumber. [3]

Alternatively, through research and development in ecology, supply chain efficiency, and materials processing, we are finding innovative substitutes which can outperform the original material in cost, strength, and sustainability. This is exactly what Panda Industries has envisioned with its bamboo strand board technology. We have been designed from the ground up with sustainability in mind. We have taken steps to ensure our bamboo is sourced responsibly and locally; meaning close to the point of the BSB production, and within the natural growth ranges of the bamboo species we will use, Guadua Angustifolia. We have engineered a new process for transforming the raw bamboo into a PS-2 grade OSB. 

This is the future of construction, and while it is important for established companies to alter their processes to lessen environmental impact; ultimately new innovations in materials, processing, and building will take the industry further along the road towards sustainability.