The first ever house made of hemp has already been built in the United States. It’s made from a hemp product known as hempcrete, which is a mixture of water, lime, and industrial hemp.
A team of 40 subcontractors, volunteers, and designers built the house, which is located in Asheville, North Carolina. It features an eco-friendly design and was fully supported by the community members and local officials in the city. In fact, there are plans to build more of these houses in the near future.
How the Use of Hemp in Construction Started
Hemp was rediscovered in Europe in the 1980s when the cultivation of the crop was legal. At that time, France was the European Union’s biggest producer of hemp and hundreds of houses on the continent were built with insulation that was made of hemp. The insulation was used to fill the roofs, walls, and under the floors.
Indeed, the use of hemp in constructing buildings is not new. It was used in the Middle East and in Asia during the early times, where the plant originated. In the United States, the biggest challenge in using hemp to build homes is the federal regulation, cost, and supply.
Even though several states in the US are now legalizing the use of medical cannabis, they cannot seem to allow the production of industrial hemp. Local production of the material will not only lower the impact on the environment exponentially but also bolster a struggling economy and improve the local farming industry.
Benefits of Using Hemp for Building Homes
Manufacturers agree that the material is great for low-rise construction. The product has a stucco-like appearance and is free from toxins. Promoters also boast that the hempcrete has a lower carbon footprint as it only requires three times less heat to produce compared to limestone concrete. The material is more like drywall than a concrete and cannot be used for a structure or a foundation. Instead, it’s more suitable to use as insulation.
Hempcrete has a lot of interesting qualities and one of them is its ability to lower carbon footprint both during cultivation and production. This is extremely important in our quest to fight climate change in this day and age. At the cropping stage, the plants will naturally use carbon dioxide to grow which is at 22 tons per hectare. But what’s interesting is that the building made of hempcrete will continue to sequestrate carbon since the lime from the material will calcify over time.
Building More Homes in the Future
It took nine months for the team of Push Design, the construction company behind the first hempcrete home built in America, to finish the house. If not for the unfavorable weather condition, the project would have been completed way earlier. The company has already signed several contracts for more homes to be built near Asheville. They also serve as a consultant in supplying hempcrete materials to several projects in Texas and Colorado.