Hemp: The “New” Green Building Tool
Last month, landmark legislation was passed to aid farmers and take us in a green direction along with it. Restrictions on farmers wanting to grow hemp have been removed. Translation: Hemp is legal. This non-psychoactive cannabis plant is an industry projected to hit $1 billion in the next three years. What’s better, it has a multitude of green effects, uses, and it’s a valuable tool for farmers. Hemp is a wonder plant. It can be grown just about anywhere and it naturally detoxifies the soil, which makes it a great plant to put in a rotation to keep farms producing rich, healthy crops. Hemp doesn’t need harsh chemicals or pesticides to grow hearty and healthy. Best of all, it can be used in just about everything. Food, Clothing, Oils, Plastic, Paper… the list goes on. It can even be used to make building materials.
One of the oldest, domestically farmed plants in existence, hemp has made appearances throughout all of history. Structures made from hemp date back to 17th century Japan. It can be used in building new structures as well as repairing older ones. Hempcrete is the building material most commonly used that is made from the stalk of the plant to use in structure and insulation. The stalk of the hemp plant contains a strong amount of cellulose. This strong cellulose means it can transition from wet to dry and back again, on and on for decades and it won’t degrade. Being so breathable is also what keeps moisture from collecting in and rotting the wood frame of a building, which will help extend the life and integrity of your house. It’s even less likely to accumulate mold and mildew.
Additionally, hemp has a low thermal conductivity making is a great insulator, and a high thermal mass beefing up those insulating properties to also aid in temperature regulation. It needs to be replaced far less often than other forms of insulation. Nor does it contain the same poisonous chemicals found in fiberglass batts on insulation lining older homes. A non-toxic insulation in your home means better health for your loved ones living in it.
As far as sustainability, since the materials in hempcrete derive from a naturally sustainable plant source the demand for hempcrete won’t drive our environment into wreck and ruin with an increase in hemp farming. This beautifully renewable resource needs only half the amount of water a cotton crop needs to grow, which means savings in irrigation costs. Hemp also grows so densely that weeds aren’t able to grow in their space, cutting down on time spent maintaining the crop. While the cost of hemp may be slightly more expensive than other insulators, as the demand for hempcrete grows the costs will be driven down.
If you’re in the market for building a new home, you need to update your home’s insulation, or you simply want to invest in a more energy efficient, non-toxic abode for your family to flourish in, look to the future. It’s green. It’s hearty. It’s hemp.