Hemp is the soft, durable fiber cultivated from the Cannabis plant and is used to refer to marijuana with a low, non-psychoactive level of THC, the main chemical in marijuana. Hemp has been used for hundreds of years with an estimated 50,000 products being derived from it. Here, hemp is used in the form of Hemcrete- a mixture of industrial hemp, lime and water- to construct a home located in Asheville, North Carolina. More pics below.
Although hemp has been used as an alternative building material in Europe and Australia since the 1960s, the United States does not distinguish hemp from marijuana, thus current drug policy prevents its cultivation. So, its use as a building material in the States is not as feasible due to regulation, supply, and cost. Greg Flavell, founder of Hemp Technology, the firm whom was responsible for importing the hemp for this home states:
“The qualities it offers are beyond anything we get from typical materials, combining energy efficiency found in mass-based construction with the carbon sequestration, rapid renewability, strength, several hundred year wall lifespan, and the breathability and indoor air quality that is unsurpassed. It is an incredible combination, and a list of positive attributes we have never seen in any other material.”
What’s even cooler about using hemp as a building material is that it continues to pull carbon out of the atmosphere even after a structure has been built. The structure also becomes harder and stronger over time as the lime calcifies, or turns into stone. Studies in Europe show that the life span for the wall system is about 600-800 years, making it more durable than most other building materials.
Also, the interior of the house features recycled paper panels that are lined with Magnum Board, a natural sheetrock replacement and is glued together with organic glue. The window frames are recycled from demolished homes as well.
Hemp has many, many uses and it only seems obvious that the United States should distinguish between marijuana and hemp cultivation. This is a large industry waiting to burst and could bring economic and environmental change to the masses.