Sep 16, 2010 12:00 PM  PST

Hemp Earns a Place as a Green Building Material

Read the original USA Today article here

Hemp, the fibrous material of the marijuana plant, has many uses outside of fueling drug wars. Used as a strong rope, or to create sails for ships, hemp has shown it’s worth again and again. Now, the plant has found a new live as a green building material.

Building With Hemp

Hemp is actually illegal to grow in the US, however other countries have seen just what this strong little plant can do. Across Europe, dozens of hemp homes have already been built, providing a green alternative to typical building materials. Hemp is cheap, yet durable, and creates a more energy efficient home. Hemp is non-toxic, mildew-resistant, pest-free and flame-resistant, making it a near-perfect choice for green homes. It also naturally absorbs carbon dioxide, making it a great greenhouse gas fighter.

David Madera, co-founder of Hemp Technologies, says hemp makes homes greener from the inside out.

“This is like a living, breathing wall.”

Making Hemp Homes

Hemp bricks are simple and low cost to make, yet incredibly strong.Dried hemp stalks are ground up and mixed with lime and water, then formed into bricks. The bricks harden to become as strong as concrete. The bricks are then used inside a wooden frame to build the house.

The hemp bricks keep a home well insulated during the seasons, which can lower energy costs. A house already built from hemp in Asheville, North Carolina, costs the owners around $100 per month to heat and cool. The house is 3,000 square feet, plus a garage. The owners also say the home cost $133 a square foot to build, not including land and excavation. This includes the cost of importing hemp into the US.

Hemp could become the next big, green building material for home builders in the US. Typical building materials often contain asbestos, lead, arsenic and formaldehyde, which can make people sick. Hemp promises to have none of these problems. It can even be grown greener, as hemp requires little water and chemicals to farm. A home could be organically grown, from the inside out.

Photo Credit: John C. Fletcher, for USA TODAY

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Summer Minor
Source: Green Building Elements

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