A “Greener” Alternative
Hempcrete is exactly what it sounds like: an alternative to concrete that is made from hemp. Hempcrete is non-toxic unlike concrete, and actually removes carbon dioxide from the air because it’s made from plants. Being one of the fastest growing plants on earth that is pest resistant, the environmental impact of hemp production is also lower than traditional concrete. Using hemp in construction could potentially offset the carbon footprint of the entire project. Long after construction, the hempcrete will continue to absorb carbon dioxide, which is known as carbon sequestration. Likewise, air quality inside the home would go unmatched.
In addition to environmental benefits, there are many other technical benefits for builders. Hempcrete is fire, pest, and water resistant. Mold or other fungus is unlikely to become a problem when used in water-dense areas. It’s also a good insulator and in some cases may replace insulation entirely. Hempcrete releases the temperature stored throughout the day, slowly. Thusly, it utilizes geothermal energy to assist heat and cool a building. Imagine the energy and money that could be saved from its efficiency. Insulation in this case, also includes noise cancellation. All of these features will be attractive for a homebuyer and thus increase property value.
Why Choose Hemp?
Although hemp has many advantages, there are certainly some disadvantages to take into account. It’s more expensive than concrete, at first glance. To figure out cost effectiveness, you will need to take into account the money saved from insulation, waterproofing, temperature control, etc. Usually, hempcrete is not plausible to entirely replace concrete. Rather, it can be used in addition to, in the proper placements. For example, the basement would be a good place to utilize its benefits. Waterproofing a basement costs thousands of dollars anyways. Sometimes it’s used exclusively for water tanks and septic systems. Other times it may be used purely as an insulator, so on and so forth.
Most often, hempcrete is used as a liner for concrete. Concrete is necessary in load bearing walls. However, it’s not very water resistant and therefore tends to buckle after years of temperature fluctuations. When hempcrete is used as reinforcement, it prevents cracks in the foundation and frame. Long-term structural integrity is highly valuable. Depending on your budget and construction goals, you need to decide when and where using hempcrete would make sense. By combining the use of traditional concrete with hempcrete, you can get the best of both worlds in your construction project. If you’re a builder, consult with your architect.
Using hempcrete in new and altered construction could revolutionize the business while protecting the environment. Conscientious builders in California are choosing to work with this fairly new technology. In California, energy efficiency in the building industry is an important goal towards reaching zero-net energy as a state. This is only an observation, but I would not be surprised if hempcrete eventually became part of California building code. At BarrierEnergy, we specialize in California’s energy efficiency building standards. As compliance testers, we stay on top of new codes, which are altered every three years. If you opt in for the use of hempcrete for environmental or functional reasons, please reach out to us. We have access to a network of skilled architects and designers. We’d also be honored to perform energy efficiency testing on your home or business, which you would most likely pass with flying colors!