The latest breakthrough in top quality building material is mold-proof, pest-proof and fire-resistant and it isn’t some space age substance; it’s hemp. Instead of mining for our building materials, we are starting to grow them. Using the cannabis plant’s thick woody stock, combined with some water and lime, you can create incredibly durable hempcrete bricks.
Benefits of Using Hempcrete
Regardless of your view on the cannabis plant, this is a much greener and structurally beneficial way to build homes in many cases.
For those worried about dope fiends tearing chunks out of their home to toke on, let me put your fears to rest. Cultivating cannabis for hemp and growing pot to smoke are two very different things. There just isn’t enough THC in a hemp plant to get high off of.
Ken Anderson, owner of Original Green Distribution said to nytimes.com “You could smoke a telephone pole’s worth of our stuff and still not get high,”.
Hempcrete both insulates and breathes, making it fantastic for preventing mold growth. This was actually one of the catalysts that prompted the use of Hempcrete in America. After the severe flooding in the south, mold became a massive problem, leaving houses uninhabitable.
Origin of Hempcrete
Hempcrete has actually been used in Europe for some time now, since being reinvented in France during the 1980’s. Insurers in England actually provide a discount for using Hempcrete because of its durability.
We say that the French reinvented Hempcrete, but they weren’t the first to use this revolutionary building material. Hempcrete was used in ancient Gaul as a bridge building material, and has been used to build homes in Japan for centuries.
Why Did It Take So Long?
You might be asking yourself the question “If Hempcrete is so amazing, why are we just starting to use it now?”. The answer may infuriate you, it’s because lawmakers did not distinguish between hemp and ‘weed’ when prohibiting the production of this extremely useful plant.
The strains of cannabis used to produce hemp are a totally different animal from the strains used to smoke. Hemp plants contain virtually no THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis), yet they were still demonized during the 1930’s and for decades afterwards.
Europe never prohibited the cultivation of hemp plants, and they have hundreds of buildings that used Hempcrete in their construction. It’s not just homes though, there is a 7-story office building in France constructed from Hempcrete, as well as a zero-carbon home built by Prince Charles.
Problems with Hempcrete In the United States
While Hempcrete offers builders a greener alternative to conventional building materials, it is still extremely new in North America. Because contractors and inspectors are not familiar with Hempcrete, it makes it difficult for them to wrap their heads around it.
When dealing with two-by-fours and fiberglass, inspectors know what’s up. When dealing with this new hemp-based building material, they are still relatively clueless. Making the inspection process rather difficult.
The Future Is Bright For Hempcrete
Many companies are starting to adopt Hempcrete as a superior building material though, experimenting with different ways to use this material.
One business has moved away from pouring Hempcrete bricks and instead developed a panel system much like drywall. This is just the beginning, over the next few years we expect Hempcrete to be used far more regularly as we try to minimize our carbon footprint and build safer homes for cheaper.