Hempcrete blocks are made from the inside stem of the hemp plant mixed together with a lime base binder and pressed into blocks. It is a more environmentally friendly building material than concrete, as far as carbon footprint. The lime wrapped in cellulose takes a while to turn back into rock, but hempcrete keeps getting harder until it petrifies.
- versatile in use as walls, roofs, floors, insulation
- exceptionally quiet inside
- low maintenance
- aesthetically pleasing
- a move away from petrochemicals
- hygroscopic for clean indoor air, naturally regulating relative humidity
- good for outdoor air since it pulls out carbon dioxide as lime in the hempcrete calcifies over time
- rot-proof when kept aboveground
- three times more earthquake resistant than concrete
- can serve as both the internal and external wall
- easier to work with and more pliable than concrete
- potentially carbon neutral construction
- made from industrial hemp that needs no fertilizer, weed killer pesticides or fungicides to grow
- durable and will last thousands of years, versus 40 to 100 years for modern building materials
- easy to break down– if you no longer want the walls, it can be spread on a field
- an alternative building material that has been widely used in Europe and Australia since the 1960’s.
Listen to the December 12, 2012 Colorado Matters on Colorado Public Radio interview of farmer Michael Bowman in Wray, CO, who said he is going to grow 100 acres of industrial hemp in the spring of 2013. The broadcast has an interesting ending about Willie Nelson. In 2012, Colorado’s governor signed Amendment 64 that directs state lawmakers to regulate industrial hemp. Federally, hemp was made an illegal substance under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act signed by Nixon when some corporate barons did not want the competitive crop.
Industrial hemp is less than .3 percent THC, so is not the same as Cheech and Chong marijuana. The DEA has destroyed the crop in North Dakota and on Native Indian lands as it came to harvest in previous years, so it remains to be seen if Bowman’s crop will survive. He is a lobbyist in Washington, DC on behalf of hemp, and says he will not transport his crop across state lines. Hemp needs far less irrigation than corn and at first will be replacing corn for things like hemp oil.
The U.S. is the largest consumer of hemp products in the world, but is the only nation that does not allow hemp to be grown. Ron Paul’s Industrial Hemp Farming Act, H.R.1831 of 2009 and the 2012 S3501, bills to amend the Act for industrial hemp, never made it out of committee.
In Canada, Hemp-Crete Natural Building offers a free thirty minute initial hemp building consultation. Their website has lots of pictures of building a hemp home. Goran Homes in British Columbia, 250.551.4356, firstname.lastname@example.org, also builds hemp homes. See the attached slide of their 425-square-foot two-story hempcrete cabin that is a very affordable home. According to their website, Steve Allin of Ireland has the best book on hemp building, Building With Hemp, 2012 edition.
Hempcrete and hemp-lime plasters are grown and manufactured and available in the United States from Ireland. They are ready mixed, ready to use, and the company also teaches classes on ecological building with hemplime. The inventors of hemcrete are American Lime Tec.
In Australia, Paul Benhaim has a book offered online, Build a House with Hemp, holds workshops in hemp building and teaches hemp growing as well. His website has many pictures of hemp buildings, including a 300-year-old traditional Japanese home made of hemp.
Germany and France are replacing plywood and drywall with hemp. Hemp fiberboard is lighter, two times as strong, and three times as elastic as wood fiberboard. Hemp fiber can be used to make concrete pipes that are two-thirds less expensive than polypropylene, more flexible, elastic and crack resistant. If legalized in the U.S., hemp would be the cheapest raw material for concrete-like foundations.
The International Hemp Building Association, directed by Steve Allin, has a Facebook page and will be announcing their 2013 International Hemp Building Symposium soon. It was held in Switzerland in 2012, Spain in 2011 and Ireland in 2009. There will be a three day hemp building class with Steve Allin in Kenmare, Co. Kerry, Ireland on April 23-25, 2013 for $465, including accommodations Monday through Thursday night, lunches and refreshments. See the website for more information and to register.
Read the article below about the first permitted American Lime Tec hemcrete home built in America on Town Mountain Road in West Asheville, North Carolina and designer Anthony Brenner with eco-friendly Push Design. Contact Hemp Technologies by phone 828.333.4724 or email them on the website. Watch an A B Tech workshop video on the website of how they make the hemp walls.