People have been set on using the best materials when it comes to building houses, in regards to foundations, insulation, electricity, etc. and we would like to believe that our government and top corporations are in the business of using the best materials to build with as well as benefit the environment. Well, if this was true, the world would be using hempcrete.
So what is hempcrete? Hempcrete is a building material similar to concrete but with a few differences that are quite notable. First off, it incorporates hemp, using the shiv (inner stem of the plant) and a limestone base. It creates a negative carbon footprint, and is highly versatile. Hempcrete can be used as insulation, flooring, roofing, and even drywall. It is fireproof, waterproof and rot proof provided it is above ground. It is easier to make than concrete, as well as more durable. It is 3x more resistant to earthquakes as compared to regular concrete.
Limestone is the binder in hempcrete, and it does not need to be heated as much as conventional concrete mixture, reducing energy costs. Going back to the carbon aspect of it, hempcrete isolates carbon in its cellulose structure, meaning that the carbon inside the hemp plant does not release back into the atmosphere. A standard home made hempcrete can save up to 20,000 lbs. of carbon.
What really makes hempcrete a superior building material is that it is lightweight, breathable, and incredibly strong. When it’s used for exterior walls, it will let water in without damaging or rotting the material, and due to this, the moisture levels maintain with the absorbed water releasing as the temperature goes up, and this very fact eliminates the need for insulation as it is its own acting insulator. Hempcrete can simply just be used as a wall with no need to leave a gap for insulation. Now, since the lime is wrapped in cellulose, it takes a bit longer for the mixture to petrify but it makes up for being highly durable, over time the limestone will grow harder and turn back into rock petrifying completely. A wall of hempcrete will last thousands of years compared to 40-100 with conventional concrete, especially if it’s reinforced with steel (a self-destroying design might I add).
The other great thing about hempcrete is that if you mess up a batch, it acts as a great fertilizer, simply being returned to the soil. Hemp reaches maturity in 14 weeks and doesn’t take much to grow it, no major pesticides, or fungicides to maintain its health and its seeds are extremely healthy and rich in omega-3 oils. One can only wonder why we don’t already have this plant used in mainstream industries already. As a matter of fact, this was the country’s first major cash crop until a legal scare put the industry out due to its relative cannabis-sativa classified as a schedule 1 drug.
Hopefully, we will see this material used for our future generations as the world’s need for carbon reduction and durable supplies increases.