Building a Better World-One Hemp House at a Time
Written By: Christine Dantz
America can help build a better world with hemp. The controversial plant produces material that is better quality, lasts longer, and is easier to produce. Not to mention, the cash crop's healthier for and treads much lighter on the world's environment than similar crops. Along with these benefits, hemp is cheaper to produce and faster to replace than comparable building materials. This should be a win-win with no argument from the government or people; however, the law is the problem.
Most states, as well as the Federal government, prohibit hemp cultivation. This ridiculous ban, based on unfounded science, is forcing American companies to import raw materials from abroad, sending precious business to the country's biggest competitors, such as China and other industrialized countries around the world. In fact, the U.S. is the only industrialized country to ban hemp farming. This drives up the prices of a product that could reduce both residential and commercial building costs.
Concrete vs. Hempcrete
Concrete can't hold a candle to Hempcrete. What's Hempcrete?
"Hempcrete is a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder."
The manufacturing process for Hempcrete takes 12-15 foot hemp plant stalks and pulverizes it into a Paper Mache-like consistency. As it dries, it takes the shape of its container by absorbing carbon dioxide. This amazing process also creates a negative carbon footprint.
Lime and hemp are both safe materials for people, animals, and the environment.
Hempcrete weighs a fraction of concrete, making it easy to transport to worksites and throughout the work area in lightweight tubs. Builders use fully cured Hempcrete to insulate walls with a wood-framed base for low-rise construction.
While concrete building materials date back to the Roman Empire, a 6th century bridge abutment made of Hempcrete in France is proof of the plant-based construction material's durability.
There is no need to worry about psychoactive properties in hemp, industrial hemp contains less than 5 percent THC and is perfectly safe. No one can get a buzz building your new home or by breaking off parts of your wall, promise!
Termite problems? Not with Hempcrete. Termites and other vermin won't eat Hempcrete; it's also hydrophobic and breaths, providing a natural, mold resistant material. That's not it's only natural benefit, Hempcrete is fire resistant, and so builders don't have to use toxic fire-retardants to prevent flammability.
What are some of the other benefits of Hempcrete? (Yes, there's more!)
- Thermal properties- Hempcrete makes a great insulator, maintaining both hot and cold temperatures, reducing energy costs
- Acoustic properties-Hempcrete is a great sound barrier, shielding residents from street level noise, a property many city dwellers can appreciate
- Dust, mold, and rodent resistance reduces allergies
- Design-Hempcrete is versatile and can be easily crafted into any archetype
- Hydrophobic properties allow builders to use it for building foundations
- The hemp foundation is seven times stronger than concrete, making it safer in earthquake prone zones
- Hempcrete's flexibility reduces foundations from shifting like traditional concrete
Cleanup of hemp-based construction materials easily beat the alternative, just till the hemp debris into the soil. Hemp is full of Omega-3 oil, amino acids, fiber, and proteins, making it not only safe for soil, but also beneficial to its health.
The Price America Pays on Imports
The ban on industrial hemp farming is hurting America. Nearly all of the raw materials to make those products were imported. The U.S. is the largest importer of hemp in the world because of the federal ban. According to the Hawaii Farmers Union United, sales of hemp products in the U.S. were $580 million in 2013.
America has also banned the processing of hemp products on U.S. soil, once again forcing businesses to import what they need, thus undercutting the benefit gained through the negative carbon footprint provided by hardening Hempcrete.
Luckily, for U.S. businesses, Canada is building a processing facility for hemp decortication close to the American border. Although the money will go to the country's northern neighbor, the reduction in transport will help lower costs and the product's carbon footprint.
Hempcrete and Red Tape
Another unfortunate problem green builder's face is the red tape they must cut through to get approval to build with Hempcrete and other hemp-based products. As long as the Federal ban on hemp continues, eliminating these barriers will be tough. Even when consumers get past local building codes, they face further hurdles with insurance companies and even homeowners associations.
Even as more states enact legislation legalizing industrial hemp cultivation and processing, the federal ban will continue to cause problems for businesses and homeowners that want to use Hempcrete and other hemp-based products.
It's time Americans step up to the plate and let Washington know that enough is enough, stop preventing our country's growth because of outdated, incorrect notions about hemp!
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