Hempcrete, hemp insulation, and hemp composite timber are all innovative and sustainable building materials derived from the hemp plant. Hemp-based building materials offer a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional construction materials, with properties that contribute to energy efficiency, indoor comfort, and overall environmental responsibility.
Hemp Construction 101
Types of Hemp Construction Materials
- Composition: Hempcrete is a bio-composite material made from the woody core of the hemp plant, known as hurd. The hurd is mixed with water and quicklime to create a slurry, then cast into molds, pre-cast into blocks, or applied in layers to form walls and floors.
- Insulation: Hempcrete provides excellent thermal insulation, helping regulate indoor temperatures. It has a low thermal conductivity, which means it can retain heat in colder seasons and keep interiors cooler in warmer weather.
- Lightweight: Hempcrete is much lighter than concrete, making it easier to handle and transport. This can contribute to reduced construction costs.
- Breathability: Hempcrete is breathable, meaning moisture can pass through the material. This can help regulate humidity in buildings and prevent mold.
- Sustainability: Hemp is a fast-growing and renewable resource, and the cultivation of hemp requires fewer pesticides and fertilizers compared to many other crops. Additionally, hempcrete’s ability to sequester CO2 contributes to its overall sustainability.
Hemp Wool Insulation:
- Composition: Hemp insulation is typically made from the bast fibers of the hemp plant, often mixed with other natural fibers like cotton or recycled materials. The fiber mix is processed and compressed into batts, rolls, or loose-fill insulation.
- Thermal Insulation: Hemp insulation, like other natural fiber insulations, provides effective thermal insulation, helping to keep buildings warm in winter and cool in summer.
- Breathability: Similar to hempcrete, hemp insulation is breathable, allowing moisture to pass through. This can contribute to a healthier indoor environment by preventing the buildup of moisture and mold.
- Sound Insulation: Hemp insulation also exhibits good sound-absorbing properties, making it a favorable non-toxic choice for noise control in buildings.
- Sustainability: Hemp insulation is considered a sustainable material due to the renewable nature of hemp. It is also biodegradable and can be recycled, reducing its overall environmental impact.
Hemp Composite Timber:
- Composition: Hemp composite timber involves using hemp biomass as a reinforcement material in the production of composite wood products. These products can include hemp particleboard, fiberboard, or laminated timber.
- Strength and Durability: Hemp fibers add strength to the composite material, making it a viable alternative to traditional timber products. The resulting material is often strong, durable, and resistant to pests.
- Lightweight: Similar to other hemp-based materials, hemp composite timber is lightweight, making it easier to handle during construction.
- Environmental Impact: The use of hemp in composite timber can contribute to reduced reliance on traditional timber sources, helping to conserve forests.
- Sustainability: Hemp composite timber contributes to sustainability by providing an alternative to conventional timber products, which may involve deforestation and have a longer production cycle. Some US-based hemp composite timber companies are carbon-negative.
Provided under a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Join PAHIC and benefit from resources, knowledge and a community dedicated to the ongoing success of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.