Hempcrete

Brooke Berge Weekly Journal 13

A large percentage, of CO2 emissions are caused by the building industry. It is estimated that about 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States are caused by buildings (inhabit). Carbon neutral buildings are becoming more and more popular, as we try to steer away from buildings negatively impacting the environment. Hempcrete is a material similar to concrete made out of hemp plants’ woody inner fibers, and mixed with a lime-based binder. It is used as an insulator, not structural. Positives of this material include it being made out of a renewable source, and it is also lightweight, so it requires less energy to transport the blocks. Also, it is sustainable as well as 100% recyclable.

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Producing materials out of renewable sources is important, however, when creating materials out of plants, it is important to be aware of the amount being produced, as well as the rate it is being produced. We don’t want to deplete our natural resources, so every time they are used for materials they need to be replanted. A good quality of the hemp plant is that it grows quickly. Although it seems like a good idea to use this building material, it is actually illegal to grow the hemp plants used to create Hempcrete in the U.S. because it closely resembles the marijuana plant, but it is legal in Europe and Canada. Because of this, it is very expensive to use in the U.S. It should be legal to grow in the U.S, because the cost would be reduced so it could be used more.

 

Sources:

http://inhabitat.com/11-green-building-materials-that-are-way-better-than-concrete/

http://inhabitat.com/hemcrete-carbon-negative-hemp-walls-7x-stronger-than-concrete/

http://www.americanlimetechnology.com/what-is-hempcrete/

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2 comments

  1. jhkmedeiros

    You present many of the contemporary critical issues surrounding the realm of sustainable architecture and design, issues such as best building practices and existing regulations which have yet to be truly considered due to the relative recent reemergence of this practice.

    Contextual regulations pose a significant hindrance to modern sustainable building practices. Not only do urban codes and regulations in zoning and planning restrict the use of innovative systems and materials that would aid in ecofriendly consideration, such as timber buildings, but codes and regulations on the harvesting of materials are also heavily regulated, as you mentioned with the hemp plant. Land use has been so heavily designated and delineated, making it difficult for land to repurposed for new discoveries.

    Land use is a secondary issue surrounding the sustainability focus, specifically regulating the newfound innovations so as to not deplete these sources as we have done with other material and energy sources like oil. How do we regulate timber harvesting, or even hemp growth, without affecting soil levels or existing ecosystems? It is important for us to tread carefully while transitioning to new building systems and styles.

    One aspect I found particularly interesting was the perception of newness of this environmental consideration in architecture and design. Hempcrete was originally used in a French bridge abutment in the 6th century, yet we are now considering this material use as innovative and modern? (American Lime Technology) How did a divergence from these building practices occur? Furthermore, how did sustainability become so exclusive and such a luxury? Why do these materials that would benefit the environment and ultimately ourselves bear such a big cost? Why are they not available to all?

    Sustainability as we now think of it is not a modern notion, yet how has it come to be considered as such? How has architecture and the practice of building evolved so greatly from its origins?

    Sources: American Lime Technology (http://www.americanlimetechnology.com/what-is-hempcrete/)

  2. Week 14 Reply Blog – Jingbo Huang
    Even though i don’t quite understand how hempcrete could be 100% recycled because the binding material lime seems not recyclable, I still agree with you that be aware of the amount to plant and the rate to replant. Hemp is one of the food source for human due to abundant nutrition in hemp seeds, and it is fast growing and fast maturity, however, fast growing plants like hemp and bamboo could cause exhaustion of soil nutrition because these plants consume quickly a large amount of nutrition in soil. Therefore, hemp can grow fast, but we cannot replant it too frequently.
    Environmentally, there is limited land for human to plant for food and daily uses. If we want to replace traditional concrete with hempcrete, a considerably large amount of land must be occupied to plant hemp in order to produce enough hempcrete for construction. In that case, there would not be enough land to plant food sources. It is already difficult to feed 7 billion people nowadays with that limited planting land, why take more lands to plant a plant that is not our major food source? Plus, keeping the current farming land and exploiting forest into farming land to plant hemp is way less sustainable and green. That would cause more environmental issue.
    Despite hemp is illegal to plant in the US, farming a large amount of hemp sounds already not feasible. It is a good innovation, but maybe we could find a substitute which is widely available from our farming waste, possibly straw.

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