Jan 30, 2010

Hemp as a Building Material

What a great article in the FT Weekend(Jan 23) entitled "Construction Plant."
It speaks of the versatility and durability of a certain strain of hemp(Cannibis sativa) which allows the plant to be used as a building material. Great news for law enforcement! This is not the strain of hemp that you smoke.

Some important points include:

-Hemp has been used for construction off and on since the 6th century

-"Today, industrial hemp is being processed into an environmentally friendly construction material that is then mixed with a lime binder to make a material that can be poured and cast like concrete or formed into bricks"

-Hemp(and bamboo) are very fast growing, "seed to harvest in 4 months time" allowing an ample supply of basic material and can be mixed with edible food farming in the other 8 months of the year so it does not crowd out crop production for humans, an oft-times complaint of corn for ethanol.

-Hemp contributes much less to global warming than concrete production,"it can theoretically result in a building with zero carbon emissions or one that contributes to the eco-crusade by storing carbon dioxide"

-"In France...there are several thousand hemp houses" that were built in the past few years.

-From a construction materials standpoint hemp is ideal because:

-"it has a high thermal mass, meaning it stores heat from the sun and releases it slowly during the cool of the night"

-"is breathable while being airtight, is good for soundproofing and is hygroscopic, meaning it moderates humidity."

-is"fire and vermin resistant"

The UK government is giving hemp a go. The Dept of Energy and Climate Change is offering grant monies to developers building affordable homes with hemp used as a material.

Not sure how hemp is being treated as a building material in North America. Anyone know?

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