Hemp Construction

Hemp lime building materials are increasingly attracting global attention because hemp construction allows you to create infrastructure that stores carbon.

It offers a solution to the need for zero-carbon building, produces healthier homes and workplaces and has major potential in a number of different ways in mainstream and social housing, as well as in commercial construction.

Research at UNSW from 2000- 2006 resulted in the development of a range of Australian hemp lime building materials that have so far been used in 42 Australian homes (new homes and retrofits) and in the construction of the zero energy CDL Green Gallery and Heritage Museum in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Hemp buildings have excellent thermal performance. The slow phase change material creates walls that are highly insulative, manage humidity and radically reduce energy-related running costs. The materials are non-combustible, recyclable, light and easy to work with and breathable walls create healthy indoor air quality. The adequate air exchange discourages mould growth.

A recent study funded by the UK government showed that the insulating properties of hemcrete mean that heating plant can be reduced in size, reducing corresponding energy consumption and carbon emissions, which could be in the range between 50% and 80% lower than in buildings with conventional brick and block construction insulated to the same U-value as the hempcrete or hemp construction.

The lower energy demand in the homes combined with the negative embodied carbon footprint (carbon sequestration potential) of the hempcrete structure at – 4.3 tonnes CO2, compared with +10.7 tonnes CO2 for brick-block house of same dimensions.

When industrial hemp is grown for fibre it is a rapidly growing annual biomass. Few durable building materials are made from renewable resources, let alone from a resource with such clear potential to improve Australian farms, harvest carbon and create further green industry.

With a new Hemp Mill in the NSW Hunter Valley, the growing hemp industry there will make a significant contribution to creating a smart future for the region. There is growing understanding that climate resilience will depend on strong regional economies, as well as growing recognition that hemp is a very positive option for Australian farmers and manufacturers because of its beneficial impact on soils and the varied end products that can be made.

As world demand for hemp is steadily growing, opportunities are developing in multiple regions of Australia which will contribute to a healthy green economy. I have been involved in the Australian Hemp industry for 16 years in both the farming and construction sectors and have grown hemp on dryland as well as irrigated farms in regions of NSW.

Through research at UNSW, I developed a Hemp Lime building material and hemp construction process and provide training to architects, building designers, builders and owner builders.

Klara Marosszeky, Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance.

Hemp Paper is stronger and less likely to tear.

Hemp has more wet resistance than wood pulp and is 7 times as recyclable. Hemp is an annual plant thus saving forest resources and can produce a wider range of papers, whilst only using a fraction of the dangerous chemicals.

No dioxins are produced and less energy/water used. Cannabis or hemp can be mixed with other fibre pulp for strength. Hemp produces many times the cellular fibre of trees and is perfect for hemp bricks, concrete framework and particle board. Hemp is very long lasting and highly flexible.


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