The House that Hemp Built

July 16th, 2009 – Archial Architects recently unveiled a house made from a combination of hemp and a lime-based binding agent. The innovative design combines the industrial strength fibers of the hemp plant with a binding agent to create 143562-47464what has been dubbed “hempcrete.” Among the benefits of using hempcrete in housing construction is the fact that the entire process of growing the hemp and processing it for use in hempcrete is claimed to leave a negative carbon footprint. Other claimed benefits include good insulation as a result of low thermal-conductivity and the cost-effectiveness of using hempcrete over more traditional timber and brick construction.

The entire idea seems quite reasonable. Hemp offers significant advantages over timber in many potential areas. Hemp creates stronger paper since its fibers are just about the strongest you can find naturally. Also, because hemp is a weed, it grows extremely quickly and can be harvested and processed relatively inexpensively. This is a double win over using timber, because the time it takes to plant and grow a tree is significantly longer than the time it would take to plant and harvest hemp. As long as the strength of hempcrete stands up to testing, would there be any reason for the U.S. not to begin researching into incorporating some type of hemp-based building material into low income housing and other government subsidized housing programs? Not only would this allow for fast and efficient construction of homes and other buildings in places that need them, but it would allow for the preservation of forests by alleviating the reliance on timber. Of course, there is much more to this issue than what I’ve mentioned, but stepping beyond lobbyist idiosyncrasies and politics as usual, this is definitely an area that ought to be looked into by the U.S. Government.

The question remains whether the American Government, blissful in its ignorance, would be able to look past the fact that industrial strength hemp is incapable of getting you high with a THC content of about 0.3% or less. As it stands now, the U.S. is one of the few modern industrialized nations to not cultivate industrial hemp as a result of Federal Law. Source.

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