By Noah Chen
We’ve used the hemp plant for centuries, all over the world, for myriad of reasons. You can spin it into baskets, process it into biofuel, and extract compounds for medicines. One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as ten acres of trees. There’s even another surprising use for hemp – construction: Hempcrete.
Hemp biomass has been a part of concrete and other building materials for hundreds of years. Some claim it is stronger than concrete. It’s definitely better for the environment because of a negative carbon footprint. Today, we call it hempcrete, and it’s a substance that just might build the future.
Why use hempcrete?
Foundation walls made from hempcrete are seven times stronger than those made from traditional concrete. This is pretty noteworthy. But, hemp has several other qualities that make it a prime building material.
Walls made from hemp are naturally insulated. They will absorb heat and moisture and help maintain comfortable living conditions. Additionally, hemp walls are sound insulated, recyclable, waterproof, and fireproof.
And did we mention hempcrete is strong? We know this because humans have actually been using hemp as a building material for decades. In France, bridges built from hemp mortar back in the 6th century are still standing. This is a testament to the effectiveness of hemp as a building material.
So, if all this is true, why isn’t everything made out of hemp?
While hempcrete is undeniably durable, it is not dense enough to be load bearing. This means that structures built using hempcrete require frameworks of metal, wood, or concrete. That said, construction companies have been experimenting with options. There are even interlocking frameworks of pipes that go into hempcrete blocks so that they slot together like Legos.
The other main issue with hempcrete is people aren’t experienced with the material. Time is the only remedy for this, but as of right now, many construction companies are unsure what to make of hempcrete. This means they don’t always know how to use it. Some even treat the substance as they would concrete, which isn’t going to work.
Hempcrete is also a mystery for other businesses involved in construction. Many insurance companies might refuse to cover a hempcrete building. They don’t know how viable it is as a building material. The same goes for trying to find loans from banks to build with hempcrete.
Hempcrete may go on to become one of America’s most used construction materials. However, it has some way to go before it’s a common building material.
The future looks good for hempcrete
The future still looks good for hempcrete. It’s durable, and the process of growing hemp to make it actually draws in more CO2 than making hempcrete. This means it can actively support lowering our carbon footprint.
We think hempcrete is here to stay, and for hemp farmers, that means yet another lucrative product their crop can yield. To learn more about growing hemp, it’s best to have an experienced partner in the industry. At Arbor Vita8 our knowledge makes it possible for us to advise farmers interested in growing hemp, no matter the end product. Our seed-to-sale services ensure you get the highest quality product starting with the strain you pick to grow. To learn more about how Arbor Vita8 can help you through every step of the process, contact us today.