By | September 4, 2019
Hemp is an incredibly useful and versatile plant with thousands of different use cases. One popular use case is using hemp as a sustainable building material. Hemp is a low impact crop with a fast growth cycle and can be used to replace wood, synthetic and petroleum-based building materials for eco-friendly buildings and environments.
Hemp is a low impact crop with a fast growth cycle and can be used to replace wood, synthetic and petroleum-based building materials for eco-friendly buildings and environments. Hemp is a versatile and useful plant with thousands of different uses, from clothing to health food to medicine. So, it’s not surprising that hemp can also be used to make great building materials for construction and home building.
Hemp can be used to create hempcrete, insulation, plastics and hemp oil finish and stain. Building materials made from hemp can be used to replace wood products, synthetic, and petroleum-based materials, making it a more sustainable choice. These building materials are already being put to use around the world in interesting, unique, and eco-friendly construction projects.
Hemp has been cultivated and used by humans for hundreds of years. The plant originated in Central Asia and was used by people there as early as 2800 BCE. It was even used by the Romans as a building material in bridges. The useful plant eventually spread around the world and was even an important crop in colonial America all the way through to WWII.
Unfortunately, hemp is closely related to marijuana, and although they are different strains and hemp only contains a minuscule amount of THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana), hemp was lumped in with marijuana as an illegal substance in the U.S. This classification of hemp as an illegal substance effectively killed the cultivation of the crop in America until recent changes in legislation.
The recent legalization of hemp in the 2018 U.S Farm Bill should open up new markets in America for domestic hemp production and use. This is great for eco-friendly builders looking for sustainable building materials. Hemp has a considerably faster growth cycle than wood, is considered a low-input crop because it doesn’t require a lot of water or chemicals to grow and can help aerate the soil.
From planting to harvest, the cultivation of hemp only takes about four months Oil extracted from the hemp plant can also be used to replace products made from environmentally harmful synthetics and petroleum products.
There are already hundreds of buildings around the world that are made out of hemp building materials. Hempcrete is the most popular building material and is made from the woody inner fibers of the plant stalk and mixed with lime and water. This is used to make hempcrete blocks that can be turned into walls, floors, and roof insulation. The material is great for thermal insulation but also breathable in addition to being nontoxic, mold-resistant, carbon sequestering, and fire-resistant.
Hemp can also be used to make other types of insulation that could be used to replace fiberglass. Hemp oil is already being used as a wood finish and stain, and hemp plastic could possibly be used for piping and other building materials.
There are already several homes built in the United States using hempcrete and other hemp building materials, with the first known hemp home being built in 2010 in North Carolina. Although builders may still face some challenges with permitting and building departments being unfamiliar with the material, it is still a worthwhile pursuit.