More and more houses in the United States are being constructed using hemp. Hemp is an ideal building material for many reasons. Learn why your dream home should be made with hemp.
As more states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use, there has been a renewed interest in hemp, which is a strain of the cannabis plant that has a wide variety of uses from clothing to food and medicine.
One of the best uses for hemp is in building and construction. For centuries humans have been using hemp for building homes and other structures.
Unfortunately, the use of hemp declined in the United States during the 1930s when it was criminalized, along with marijuana under the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
This law made it illegal for farmers to grow hemp even though hemp comes from a distinct strain of the cannabis plant.
Thanks to major changes in United States laws and agriculture, homes are now being built utilizing hemp. W
hen mixed with lime, the fibers from the inner woody core of the hemp plant forms a light, natural concrete that is resistant to mold, pests, and sound.
This material, called hempcrete, is highly-insulating and cost-efficient. Hempcrete, which is also known as hemp-lime, is found in many buildings around the world from Europe to Canada.
Prince Charles had a home built with hempcrete. Currently, there are only about 50 homes in the United States constructed using hempcrete in the states of Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.
However, because of the benefits of hempcrete, there is a lot of interest in building these homes.
Is It Legal To Build A Hempcrete House In The USA?
Before this last year, people and businesses who wanted to build with hempcrete had to import it from other countries.
Although it was illegal to grow the crop under federal law, it was never illegal to build a home using hempcrete. However, it cost a bit more because the material was not available in the United States because of the ban on hemp.
Plus, special permits were needed to build with the material. So, homeowners and builders who wanted to use hempcrete had to jump through some hoops to build, including having to import the material from Canada and other countries.
In spite of the cost and hassle of importing hemp, people still choose this material because the energy savings balanced out the cost in the long run. Plus, the benefits of hempcrete really outweighed all of the negatives.
In 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky introduced a law in Kentucky called the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
This law sought to remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The purpose of this law was to allow hemp to be regulated as an agricultural crop and grown in the United States rather than be imported from other countries.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was rolled into the 2018 Farm Bill, which was just signed by the President.
This law has made industrial hemp and its products legal on a federal level, which means that going forward it should be much easier and even cheaper to build with hempcrete homes as more farmers grow hemp in the United States for industrial use.
Building With Hempcrete
Hemp is adaptable for any climate so hemp construction homes can be built anywhere in the U.S. Hempcrete is perfect for single-family homes, commercial buildings, and multi-family dwellings.
Generally, an engineer, consultant, or architect who specializes in hemp products is involved in the building of hemp homes, as there are certain building and technical requirements.
Hempcrete is very versatile and can be used for insulation, roofing, flooring, partition walls, and more. The material can be used for many above-ground applications.
Hempcrete cannot be used for foundations because it is cellulose and like any plant material, it will deteriorate when underground. Living Big In A Small House shows a small home built from hempcrete in this video.
Benefits of Hempcrete
Hempcrete offers a variety of advantages over traditional building materials. Here are some of the benefits of this versatile building material.
To produce concrete, sand is dug up from the Earth. Sand mining is a largely unregulated activity that has a serious environmental impact, according to Yale University researchers.
It damages coastal ecosystems, pollutes rivers, and damages the surrounding land. Entire islands are sometimes completely wiped away to mine sand.
Hemp, on the other hand, does not require mining. It grows quickly in dense plots and requires very little pesticide use. Since hemp grows much faster than timber, it can help reduce deforestation caused by constructing buildings.
Hempcrete is made using 100 percent natural materials — hemp and lime. Also, hempcrete is a carbon-negative material. Hempcrete removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits.
The widespread use of air conditioning is disastrous for the environment. It plays a major part in climate change and global warming.
Could hemp actually help save our planet by reducing our reliance on air conditioning? Possibly — since the material is breathable, it can store and release warm air.
This fact makes hempcrete great for insulation. Buildings insulated with hempcrete are better able to maintain an optimal temperature. So, homes constructed using hempcrete require minimal air conditioning and heating.
When hempcrete dries, it absorbs the carbon dioxide produced by occupants of the building.
This is what makes it carbon negative. The fact that it absorbs carbon dioxide increases its strength over time.
Hemp offers better tensile strength than concrete and because it is not brittle like concrete is, expansion joints are not required when building with hempcrete.
Homes built with hempcrete are much healthier for the occupants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to mold can cause serious medical problems, including obstructive lung disease, for people who are allergic to mold and have other respiratory issues.
The current building materials used in most homes today allow mold to easily grow wherever there is excessive moisture, such as windows, roofs, wood, drywall, and more. This poses a serious hazard to occupants.
Hempcrete is a much safer alternative to current building materials because of its high permeability. This property allows hempcrete to act as a water buffer and stabilize indoor humidity levels to a healthy level, which makes hempcrete a lot less prone to mold.
The lime high ph of lime also helps make the material very mold resistant. Not only is hempcrete mold resistant, but it also removes harmful greenhouse gases out of the air, making for a healthier living environment overall.
Hempcrete is safer for both the building occupants and workers who use it every day. Workers who are in the construction trade face a higher risk of exposure to toxic materials like asbestos.
Hempcrete is very pleasant to work with and it is non-toxic unlike some of these other building materials.
Fire, Noise, and Pest Resistant
Hempcrete is naturally fire-resistant. It can actually protect the inner structural parts of a wall from fire essentially acting as a firewall.
Hempcrete provides natural acoustic insulation when used for interior walls and partitions. Hempcrete acts as a sound barrier, which lessens acoustic waves helping to reduce sound.
Hempcrete is surprisingly affordable. It meets or beats the upfront cost of other building materials when used properly. Also, hempcrete helps save heating and cooling costs over time.
Hempcrete Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When Happens To Hempcrete When Exposed To Harsh Weather?
Hempcrete has been used for many years in other countries to build houses and other dwellings. Hempcrete homes can last for hundreds of years. They offer excellent weather protection and are resistant to rot.
Can Hempcrete Be Used In Older Buildings?
Yes, older buildings can be retrofitted with hempcrete. In fact, in Europe, hempcrete is widely used to replace old brick and damp walls.
Some of the uses for hempcrete in older buildings include drywall, insulation, and roofing.
Hempcrete is an ideal building material that offers many advantages over traditional construction materials
. In spite of its many benefits, hemp was not widely used in the building industry in the United States until recently. Recent political changes have made it much easier to build with hemp.