Hemp is one of the most versatile and useful substances on the planet. So it is no surprise that hemp-based building materials are becoming more prevalent, as the stigma attached to cannabis diminishes.
Hempcrete, a mixture of hemp hurds and lime, was recently used in the construction of a 3,400-square-foot home in Asheville, North Carolina. This marks the first time the product was used to build a house in the United States.
When compared to traditional concrete, Hempcrete offers better insulation, has the ability to capture airborne pollutants and can absorb carbon dioxide gas and convert it to oxygen. Unfortunately, the United States does not yet allow the industrial manufacturing of hemp, and thus it is slightly more expensive. In the future, when hemp is more readily available in the states, the cost difference should be negligible.
It’s not just the outside walls that are eco-friendly. The interior walls are made from Purepanel, a lightweight structural panel, comprised of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper waste. The home’s open floor plan, mixed with 30 salvaged window frames that feature high-tech glass, allow the daylight to illuminate the house without causing the temperature to increase dramatically.
The cost of building this energy efficient, and eco-friendly domicile was $133 per square foot. While slightly higher than the national average of $117 per square foot, the future energy savings would likely offset that cost in the long run. Traditional building supplies become less energy efficient as they deteriorate, whereas Hempcrete can maintain high energy efficiency if installed correctly and properly cared for.
The builders do admit that some compromises had to be made in the building of the home, such as Petroleum-based foam products that were used in the ceiling and foundation. However, the architect on the project is optimistic that once they get passed Hempcrete’s learning curve, they should be able to complete other projects more efficiently and economically.