Hemp use on the construction site

Published Dec 16, 2019 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Francesco Scatena

For many years we have known of the benefits of hemp and how environmentally friendly it is. Hemp can be used in construction-based materials like hempcrete, which is also known as hemp-lime composite material. Mixing water and the woody stem of the hemp plant with a lime-based binder creates a product that can be made into molds. This forms a sustainable, breathable insulating material that we can use to create walls, ceilings, roof insulation, and floor slabs. Hempcrete can be used in both old restoration projects and new buildings

A little history

Hempcrete was first made in France in the 1980’s when builders were looking for an acceptable material that was adequate for fixing the deteriorated daub and wattle in medieval frames of buildings. They used the hemp plant fibers to replace it, since there was extensive damage to the medieval buildings post-wa., and using the natural building material didn’t allow the building's fabric to breathe. This led to the fabric holding in moisture, and that caused further damage to the timber frames. Hemp is one of the most robust fibers available and is exceptionally environmentally friendly. France continues to support the use of hempcrete.

Lego looking bricks

At first glance, you might think you are looking at big Lego pieces, but that’s just how the hempcrete connects. Hempcrete is fire and pest resistant, non-toxic, solvent-free, mold-resistant, fume-free, offers self-regulation of temperature and humidity, and it’s durable and sustainable. The remarkable insulator is what is called a carbon insulator.

The quality of hempcrete as a building material is outstanding and can help you to keep your house warmer longer in the winter months and more refreshed and cooler in the summertime, which has a significant effect on the cost of heating and cooling throughout the year. With excellent absorption and thermal performance, these hempcrete bricks seem like an ideal building material before mentioning that they are  very easy to install, and require no protective gear to use.

The building process

Hempcrete bricks are time-saving tools. The building materials can be put together right on a truck. The production only takes four days, and the floor of the building can be started right away, so no waiting times or delays. With no need to use rebar, steel, or concrete, there is no time wasted waiting for concrete to set. As soon as a wall is built with hempcrete, you can start adding your floor or trusses and keep the building going with no interruptions, and that saves time and money.

Hemp is big business

In Canada, there are 325 licensed hemp farmers. Hemp grows straight across the country, and that is excellent news and a good reason to increase the use of hempcrete as a building material. Especially in areas that are prone to forest fires . This could be the new wave in construction, and Alberta is poised to become the hemp hub in Canada, now that hemp is legal .

The opportunities are many and high profits for everyone.These home can be built in less time and are protected from fire, mold, and act as a carbon insulator while keeping heating and cooling costs to a minimum. It almost seems like a no brainer decision now that we have found an environmentally friendly way to have sustainable housing throughout the entire world. Here's to hoping that this exciting trend catches on!

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