Dutch Architectural Company Displays Prefab Home Built Entirely Using Hemp
Sustainable housing is a diverse topic that’s been getting a lot of attention all over the globe. Designers and builders are always looking for fresh ways to incorporate new materials into their plans, especially when it means saving money and helping the environment while adding security.
Recently we’ve learned that soon we could be living in a home constructed mostly from hemp, a type of cannabis plant. Hemp as a building material has shown to provide an affordable alternative to other materials and has the ability to replace synthetic, petroleum based or other materials with a high embodied energy to help you respect the environment and your wallet.
Hemp houses are made possible by what is called “hempcrete” (hemp concrete) made from a variety of cannabis. Hemp obviously isn’t a new material and has been used in everything from clothing, to food to bio-fuel. It’s more recently that it’s also been used as an industrial building material, primarily as a natural insulation between a building’s structural walls (wood, concrete, steel). Houses built with hemp as the main structural support have never really been tried before but that’s just what Dutch architectural firm Dun Agro has accomplished.
The company specializes in hemp concrete and has been using the material in its many projects. Their hempcrete is made from hemp fibres mixed with water and glue. Molds press the materials together and turn them into prefab sections for homes. The mixture takes approximately three months to dry before a prefab home can be put together. Once a home has been put together using prefabricated hempcrete panels, it boasts insulation, moisture control and structural expansion properties above many other commonly used building materials.
Dun Agro are one of numerous companies that have been experimenting with hemp building materials, but they are the first to have succeeded in creating sustainable prefabricated hemp houses. Benefits of hempcrete homes include the affordability of materials, the structural soundness of building with hemp and the negative CO2 footprint presented as homes are built. Hempcrete is also easier to build with than the traditional lime cement mixes because it lacks the natural brittleness of concrete and doesn’t require expansion joints. It also acts a natural insulator, moisture regulator and has excellent earthquake resistance due to its flexibility. Right now, one downside to using hemp is that it can be expensive to import, but if hemp is readily available like it is in the Netherlands, then it can become cheaper than the alternatives. Hemp is also among the most environmentally positive of all agricultural crops and Hempcrete provides a sustainable alternative to other building materials if it is grown and utilized in a low impact, sustainable way.
Dun Agro proudly displayed one of its completed homes in November last year and has plans to sell as many as 500 hemp homes per year in the Netherlands alone. With cannabis and hemp production ramping up all over the world, production of hemp houses can easily be scaled up as well. Hemp homes might be especially applicable to Canadians now that cannabis legalization has taken the plant heavily into the mainstream. This means that for your next home building project, take a look at hemp and hempcrete because you might be surprised at how well it can work for your new home.
By: Nick Leonard