Charlottesville, VA Uses Bamboo to Green and Cool Public Buildings

ARTICLE | Sep 21, 2011

When CitySpace opened downtown in 2008, it brought to the city some new construction techniques and design elements using a rarely talked about wood for building, bamboo. If you visit that meeting space, you can see bamboo as part of the desks, walls, and doors. Bamboo is becoming a staple of true green building because it is very versatile and it replenishes itself four times quicker than standard woods. The city used these methods, along with other indoor air pollution reduction and recycling practices in producing one of the most environmentally-friendly buildings in the area.

In March of 2007, the City completed the construction of the Downtown Transit Center, which serves as a hub for transit buses, in addition to housing the new Visitor’s Center. After settling in to their new facility and getting accustomed to the new work space, the front desk staff at the Visitor’s Center realized the need for additional relief from the sun’s rays.

Although the building design included wooden trellises on the west elevation of the building, it wasn’t quite enough to make for pleasant working environment during the sun’s peak hours, when the sun’s glare was very strong at the information desk. To solve this problem, the Facilities Department investigated the most feasible and cost efficient solution to meet this challenge. Staff reviewed several options but turned to bamboo to once again come to the rescue. A new vegetated screen was found to be the most practical and cost-effective remedy.

A bamboo nursery was used to determine which species would best suit the needs of this situation, and golden bamboo was selected. The new vegetated screen was planted in larger planters and has sprung up to the ceiling in no time flat. Visitor Center workers report that the glare is gone and the temperature is now comfortable, even on some of our recent scorching summer days.

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