It is known that the construction industry is a major contributor of environmental pollutants.
Worldwide researchers are trying to find low carbon alternatives to building materials currently used by the construction industry.
Although timber is used as a building material in many parts of the world, researchers are developing new ways of using timber and other crop-based materials such as hemp, natural fiber composites and straw bales.
The environmental impact of the construction industry is huge. For example, it is estimated that worldwide the manufacture of cement contributes up to ten per cent of all industrial carbon dioxide emissions.
Therefore everywhere in the world researchers in the construction industry are looking at a variety of low carbon building materials including crop-based materials, innovative uses of traditional materials and developing low carbon cements and concretes to reduce impact of new infrastructure. As well as reducing the environmental footprint, many low carbon building materials offer other benefits, including healthier living.
America’s first house made primarily of hemp has been built. Using a product known as Hempcrete (a mix of industrial hemp, lime and water), a team of 40 designers and sub-contractors, has recently completed construction of a hemp house located in Ashville, North Carolina.
In fact, this material is an alternative building material used in Europe and Australia since 1960’s. Of course it isn’t a new idea. The use of hemp in buildings dates back millennia in Asia and the Middle East where the Cannabis plant originates from.
Hempcrete is an amazing eco-friendly material. It has the ability to pull carbon from the atmosphere both while being grown and while in-situ. Firstly at the cropping stage the hemp plants naturally use carbon dioxide for growth at about 22 tons per hectare, however the interesting factor is that the building itself continues to sequestrates carbon as lime in the hempcrete calcifies over time.
And that is not everything. The lime from hempcrete is constantly calcifying, turning to stone essentially, over the wall’s life span, means the wall is actually getting harder and stronger as time goes on. Also, the interior of the house is lined with recycled paper panels known as PurePanels and the doors are made of the same material, are fire rated and very light.