Did you know hemp (cannabis sativa) is an eco-friendly building and housing material?Hemp has been used throughout history for all different goods due to its properties. It is a ‘practical, inexpensive fire-resistant construction material, with excellent thermal and sound-insulating qualities, is made by heating and compressing plant fibres to create strong construction panelling, replacing drywall and plywood.’
Due to these beneficial characteristics, hemp can be used in an assortment of applications, particularly due to it being renewable, as well as its sustainability. In regard to building and housing materials, ‘hemp plants can be used to make caulking, cement, fibreboard, flooring, insulation, panelling, plaster, and roofing.’
The use of hemp to build certain landmarks and properties throughout history is evident, as stated in a recent New York Times article, in that ‘Hemp structures date back to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century when France was still Gaul.’ As interest in hemp building materials is renewing in modern construction, it becomes clear that hempcrete or hemp-lime could quite possibly be the way forward. Hemp-lime is comprised of three main ingredients, which are water, hemp shiv and a lime-based binder. Depending on the ratio of hemp-to-lime, it can create a denser or lighter mixture, which can be used for different applications. These mixtures then create a material that highly insulates, as well as preserves thermal mass. It is also ‘considered to be non-toxic, low cost (mainly in certain countries with hemp cultivation and use is already part of the industry), biodegradable/recyclable/reusable, resistant to extreme weather, low maintenance compared to other ‘green’ building materials, adaptable to all climate zones, simple and fast method to implement on-site for various applications, and compliant with European acoustic and fire resistance standards.’
Not only does the end result reveal these advantages but it also at beginning stages, makes the process more efficient compared to using other materials like fibre-pulp from trees. In comparison to the fibre pulp that comes from trees, hemp takes a quarter of the space to grow the same amount of fibre pulp. Hemp also only takes approximately four months to grow from seed to harvest, which allows for a quick turn-around.
As times change, and the world becomes more aware of its ecological footprint and therefore more environmentally friendly, we look for ways to create without further harm to the world around us. This awareness and change are clear through ‘the recent increase in demand from the automotive and construction industries for differing parts of the industrial hemp plant have resulted in an increase in the cultivated area across Europe with France, Germany and the UK contributing to approximately 78% of the total number of hectares harvested.’
As research is strengthened, and awareness is raised around the world, hemp could soon be the main material used to build.
‘So we can envision a house of the future built, plumbed, painted and furnished with the world’s number-one renewable resource-hemp.’
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