Hempcrete is one of the new green building solutions, but what does that mean? Concrete is the glue that holds together our homes, schools, hospitals and roads – quite literally. Unfortunately, neither making, using or disposing of concrete is environmentally friendly. According to the UN Environment Program, construction consumes about 40% of the world’s energy, 25% of the global water and 40% of the global resources. This is where eco-friendly materials come in, as you can see, the world could surely benefit from concrete alternatives available when it comes to building houses made out of hemp.
As far as alternatives go, Hempcrete seems to be the better option – yes, using hemp for construction. Hempcrete is the lightweight cementitious result of the process by which the chopped woody core of the industrial hemp plant is infused with a lime-based binder and water. Hempcrete isn’t used as a structural element in construction, but rather as an insulating infill between the wood-stud framing and although it is mostly suitable for low-rise construction, ten-story high buildings have already been built in Europe.
As with almost every hemp-derived material, hempcrete has a wide range of usability within the construction realm being used as roof, wall and/or slab insulation.
As A Green Building Solution
As green building solutions become more and more urgent, hempcrete stands out for its important ecological and economic characteristics. Breathable hempcrete wall systems, high-quality indoor air, humidity and temperature regulation, insulation, and pest-resistant are only a few of the benefits that you’re likely to experience with construction built with hempcrete. Additionally, hempcrete is insect, mold and fire resistant, absorbs moisture, and it is 100% recyclable and completely biodegradable.
If all of those reasons didn’t already suede you to choose hemp concrete for your next construction project, think about this: compared to traditional constructions, hemp-based buildings can cost up to 20% less! The added bonus? Its insulating property heavily contributes to energy saving.
“If you compare like with like, so if you compare a building made out of conventional materials with the same thermal performance as a building made out of biobased materials such as hemp, the latter is cheaper. Under the EU project called Isobio, we did studies in the UK and in Spain. If you compare the British construction systems, the wall of a hemp building is about 30% cheaper per square meter than the one made out of traditional construction materials. In Spain it is even better, the wall is more expensive there, so a hemp system will be about 55% cheaper than a typical Spanish wall with the same thermal performance.” – Mike Lawrence, Professor at the BRE CICM (Centre for Innovative Construction Materials), University of Bath, UK.
Is Hempcrete Better Than Concrete?
Due to the very many benefits of hempcrete, there is an ongoing discussion about whether it is better than concrete. Some argue that hempcrete is easier to work with and less brittle than traditional elements, such as concrete. However, it cannot be used as the foundation of a building and, as mentioned earlier, it requires wooden frames to support the vertical load in a construction being that its density is 85% less than traditional concrete.
Hempcrete In The World
Building eco-friendly, insulated houses have become a norm. After the legalization of hemp production, materials made from hemp finally got a chance to shine for their own merit. Hempcrete is no exemption. Designers, architects, and engineers all over the world are working towards green building solutions using hempcrete.
Every one of these projects requires a professional who is well-versed in the depths of hempcrete because the materials have specific construction requirements. Experts in the field range from consultants to architects who incorporate this product into their plans to bring comfort to the lucky, new homeowners.
In France, there are constructions made out entirely of hempcrete built over 40 years ago. Currently, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, and the United States are among the leaders in the production, commercialization, and use of hempcrete for construction.
Hemp concrete is rapidly gaining worldwide interest and its commercialization is building up. While this industry emerges from the ashes of the legalization of hemp production, researchers continue to explore its benefits and understand its uses. It’s safe to say that the use of hempcrete is one of the newest, most promising trends in the construction industry – and hopefully for decades to come.