It is no longer news that the cannabis industry is fast becoming one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. This can be attributed to the increased use of this cannabis and its related products after its legalization and how many new businesses have that have been created.
However, from smoking to vaping, concentrates, and various uses of hemp, we’ve arrived at how hemp can change the future of construction. People have been set on utilizing the best materials when it comes to construction works, with respect to electricity, insulation, foundations, and so on. Hempcrete can become the building block of the future; it can change the way we build houses in the next coming years.
What is Hempcrete? Hempcrete is a building material comparable to concrete, but with some quite extraordinary differences. Firstly, it requires the use of hemp, using the shiv (inner plant stem) and a limestone base. It creates a negative carbon imprint, which is dynamic.
Hempcrete can be used as roofing, flooring, insulation, and even drywall. It can be rot-proof, fireproof, and waterproof in as much as it’s above ground. It is durable and easier to make than concrete, also three times more resistant to earthquakes in contrast to regular concrete. Limestone, which is the binding material, does not need to be heated as much as a conventional concrete mixture, lowering energy costs. Moreover, regarding the carbon aspect of it, hempcrete segregates carbon in its cellulose structure, which means that the carbon inside the hemp plant isn’t released back into the atmosphere. A standard homemade hempcrete can save about 20,000lbs of carbon.
What makes hempcrete a distinct building material is the lightweight properties; it is also breathable and strong. When used to cast exterior walls, it will allow water percolate without destroying or decomposing the material, and due to this reason, moisture levels are maintained with the absorbed water being released as the temperature increases. This very fact eradicates the need for insulation as it acts as its insulator. Hempcrete can be used simply as a wall without the need to leave a gap for insulation. However, since the lime is enclosed in cellulose, it takes a while for the mixture to petrify, but it compensates for being highly durable. A wall of hempcrete will last a thousand years compared to 40 – 100 years with convectional concrete, particularly if it’s reinforced with steel.
Among the myriad of substantial advantages of hempcrete for its inhabitants, from creating a healthy living abode to severely reducing monthly cost and also contribute to a safer environment. Here are some properties of hempcrete, which makes it the building block of the future.
- It combines its insulating properties and high thermal inertia with high resistance, compared to other building materials that have deficiencies, like Concrete offers high strength, but doesn’t have the capability to insulate and unable to regulate humidity; On the other hand, good insulating materials like mineral wool, which do not have thermal inertia due to their low density, having problems in controlling the humidity.
- It breathes, it’s a vapor-permeable material which is hygroscopic, also controls the humidity in the atmosphere by absorbing vapors and discharging them when the humidity level reduces below the optimal threshold.
- Buildings made of hempcrete possess excellent acoustic properties.
- It has fire retardant properties, and it is capable of protecting buildings from getting engulfed in flames.
- It is capable of suppressing the appearance of molds, mites, and fungi and also prevents other pests such as rodents and insects.
- It has an overall negative carbon emission, 100% natural, biodegradable, and sustainable material, which absorbs CO2 continuously after application.
According to greenbuildingcanada.ca, in Canada, about 200,000 new homes are built each year, with an average footprint of 2,000 square feet (185 square meters). If they were all insulated to code minimum requirements with hempcrete, a total of 990,718 tons (898,764 tons) of carbon could be sequestered annually. If the same homes had walls with fiberglass insulation, 207,345 tons (188,100 tons) of carbon would be emitted to create that insulation, so the total net carbon savings for the planet is significant.
Lastly, another great thing about hempcrete is that if a batch is messed up, it can act as a great fertilizer being returned to the soil. Hemp takes 14 days to reach maturity and doesn’t require much to grow, no major pesticide or fungicide to keep it healthy, and its seeds are extremely rich in omega-3 oils. You can only marvel why we don’t have this plant being utilized in mainstream industries already, but thanks to the recent legalization, the future of construction just got brighter.
Hopefully, hempcrete will be adopted in years to come as the world’s need for carbon reduction and durable supplies increases.