Hemp and Construction: How Do They Connect to Building Stuff?

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As someone who’s studied hemp extensively, I’ve often heard it jokingly referred to as the “mana of hippies.” While it’s true that hemp is related to the marijuana plant, the two are distinct. I’ve been familiar with hemp’s versatile uses since the 1970s. And let me tell you, it’s not just for those in Birkenstocks munching on granola.

The myriad of ways to use hemp in daily life is impressive. For instance, would you believe me if I told you I’ve seen hemp used in construction? If this sounds odd to you, believe me, I was once as surprised as you are. But the truth is, hemp stands as one of the most dependable construction materials out there. Intrigued? Let’s delve deeper into this.

Types of Buildings

As you may have guessed, hemp can be used to build pretty specific buildings. Even though it is handy, it’s not something that can be used for any old construction job. For one, hemp can be used to build storage for carbon so that renewable biomass for the life of the building material can remain. This may be welcome news to those particularly worried about climate change. 

Furthermore, when hemp is used in construction, it creates a building through which vapors can permeate with ease, thus ensuring healthy indoor air quality. Air purifiers need not apply in this scenario. This is a pretty good segue into my next point.

Benefits of Using Hemp

Hemp offers numerous advantages as a reliable construction material. One notable benefit is its ability to provide excellent thermal insulation when combined with other thermal mass components.

hemp plant

In addition, construction workers like it for its capacity to avoid thermal bridging, a common complaint, since it provides an airtight infrastructure with extraordinarily simple detailing. According to the people behind Royal CBD, hemp is also incredibly simple to construct with, and while it requires care, the skills to do so are fairly easy to master. 

One standout advantage of using hemp is its lightweight nature, which can notably reduce the load on foundational materials. In my projects, I’ve combined hemp with other construction materials to craft solid yet lightweight foundations for various structures.

Moreover, as an advocate for sustainable building practices, I can’t stress enough how eco-friendly hemp is. In my work, I’ve observed that it promotes a zero-waste approach. Any previously mixed material can be seamlessly reintroduced in controlled quantities to fresh mixes. This not only conserves resources but also ensures we’re not adding to the toxic waste burden on our environment.

Having a Hemp Home

If you are attempting to build a hemp home from scratch, whether on your own or by employing a construction team, there are a few things you need to know. For one, in order to achieve the best durability once the substance has dried, the exterior hemp walls should be finished with a substance called hemp lime, which renders a natural yet breathable finish. Besides this intervention, it does not need special protection from the elements. 

hemp growth

Being the owner of a hemp home comes with a few benefits. For one, it offers high thermal insulation while ensuring that you will be saving up to eighty percent on your energy bill a year. Also – perhaps surprisingly – it is fireproof, adding a much-needed element of safety to the home. 

While it provides breathable walls and tremendous flexibility when it comes to design, it remains resistant to common termites and it is impossible for mold to take route since the substance naturally prevents it from growing in the house.

Environmentally Friendly

Hemp is typically associated with some form of healthy living, and in this case, this is pretty much true. Hemp is conducive to a healthy living environment in more ways than one. It is airtight, so it won’t contribute to unnecessary noise pollution given that the acoustic performance within these structures is pretty solid. 

Also, it lowers carbon emissions and significantly lowers the impact of negative carbon footprints, which is necessary when thinking of how to help on the issue of climate change. Furthermore, since it is a no-waste product, it won’t contribute to landfills at all – zero. 

, I’ve found that spaces built using hemp exhibit a remarkable resistance to the infiltration of toxic air. It’s akin to having a top-notch air purification system without the fuss of actually buying one or shelling out for HEPA-grade filters. Additionally, the incidence of dry rot in such spaces is notably low. Truly, the benefits of hemp in construction are multifaceted.

The Building Industry

Hemp is not widely used in many countries as a construction material despite the clear benefits because it and its ”cousin”, the marijuana plant, has yet to be fully legalized. However, the building industry is currently making significant strides in normalizing the use of this important material, and people in power are listening. 

Hemp can be grown quickly, and for this reason, structural blocks and panels made from hemp are an excellent alternative to traditional cement blocks and timber framing. The use of hemp instead of these materials can mean that a lot of pressure will be taken off forests worldwide, allowing for more than fifteen billion trees to be saved from being cut down. That is a staggering number. Less deforestation will lead to more natural carbon capture, which can lessen the effect of global warming considerably. 

The cement industry contributes to much of the world’s carbon emissions, and so it makes sense to lessen the burden on that material, and to reach for something that is not only better for the environment, but can be grown and cultivated quickly, provided it is given the right circumstances to thrive. It remains to be seen the extent to which this development can be sped up in the current climate, but things are looking up for the modest hemp plant.

hemp nursery

I’ve come to recognize the myriad uses of hemp in the construction sector. Not only does it benefit the environment, but it also enhances the well-being of those who incorporate it into their homes. If you’re on the journey towards sustainable living, I’d personally recommend exploring hemp concrete or hemp ISO. It’s a step forward in creating a safer and more eco-friendly living space.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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