Could Industrial Hemp Homes be the future?

An alternative building material, which has been used in Europe and Australia since the 1960s, has slowly made its way to the United States.

What material is this material, one may inquire?

Its none other than hempcrete.

According to American Lime Technology, hempcrete is, “a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The hemp core or “Shiv” has a high silica content which allows it to bind well with lime. This property is unique to hemp among all natural fibers. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material weighing about a seventh or an eighth of the weight of concrete. Fully cured hempcrete blocks float in a bucket of water. It is not used as a structural element, only as insulating infill between the frame members though it does tend to reduce racking. All loads are carried by internal framing. Wood stud framing is most common making it suitable for low-rise construction. Hempcrete buildings ten stories high have been built in Europe.”

This site explains hempcrete in more detail,

And if you are wondering, if a hemp house has been built in the United States, the answer is yes.

Check out this video,

Given many restrictions, in regards to hemp production in the United States, Push Design had to source their material from the U.K. through the company Tradical.

“We are very lucky to have Hemp Tech and their founder, Greg Flavell, here in Asheville,” David Mosrie told Gizmag. “Greg is one of the top experts on hemp in the world. We have been looking for the most effective, sustainable and energy efficient toxin-free building material for years, an effort that we still put time into every single week. We recognized almost immediately that hemp was, in every way but in cost, seemingly the most effective and sustainable material available worldwide. The qualities it offers are beyond anything we get from typical materials, combining energy efficiency found in mass-based construction with the carbon sequestration, rapid renewability, strength, several hundred year wall lifespan, and the breathability and indoor air quality that is unsurpassed. It is an incredible combination, and a list of positive attributes we have never seen in any other material.”

Mosrie of Push Design went on to say: “The main negative effect of the legal situation [in the U.S] is the cost to import it, which is frankly very high. Even while [the government] is legalizing medical marijuana now in 19 states, [they] can’t seem to allow industrial hemp production. Local production would not only lower the environmental impact exponentially versus bringing it from Europe, but would bolster a struggling economic group and prop up local farming, a long regional tradition. It frankly makes no sense to keep up the ban , at the state or federal level, but it continues on.”

While an industrial hemp house has been completed by Push Design, industrial hemp is legal in some states.

In the 2014 federal Farm Bill, a provision paved the way for universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for limited purposes.

The requirements in the 2014 Farm Bill for industrial hemp include:

“ (1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; and

(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education or State department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.”The law also requires that the grow sites be certified by—and registered with—their state.”

And lastly, “the law also requires that the sites used by universities and agriculture department be certified by—and registered with—their state.”

According to the National State Council of Legislators, here is some of the state action that has occurred with industrial hemp.

“State action

Twenty-two states have enacted state laws relating to industrial hemp. Generally, states have taken three approaches:

  1. Establish commercial industrial hemp programs.
  2. Establish industrial hemp research programs.
  3. Enact studies of industrial hemp or the industrial hemp industry.

Thirteen states have statutes establishing commercial industrial hemp programs:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Indiana
  4. Kentucky
  5. Maine
  6. Montana
  7. North Dakota
  8. Oregon
  9. South Carolina
  10. Tennessee
  11. Vermont
  12. Virginia
  13. West Virginia

Seven states have passed laws establishing industrial hemp programs that are limited to agricultural or academic research purposes.

  1. Delaware
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Michigan
  5. Nebraska
  6. New York
  7. Utah

Current state policies include:

Elements of state industrial hemp laws can include:

  • Defines industrial hemp. Most state laws require hemp to have THC concentrations of not more than 0.3 percent by weight, but at least one state (West Virginia) requires the crop have less than 1 percent THC concentrations.
  • Provide that industrial hemp is an agricultural crop in the state.
  • Establish licensing or registration programs for growers. Such programs often require registrants to provide information on the type of industrial hemp that will be grown, the grow area, and how the harvested crop will be used. Programs often also require growers to submit to criminal background checks.
  • Provide for inspections and establish testing standards for seeds and crops.
  • Authorize fees to support the program. Some states have authorized specific industrial hemp funds. Some states also specifically authorize the state to collect funding from foundations and private sources to support the industrial hemp program.
  • Establishing an affirmative defense for registered industrial hemp growers from prosecution under state controlled substances laws.
  • Setting penalties for violations of the industrial hemp law.
  • Creation of an advisory board to advise regulators on the development of regulations, enforcement, and budgetary matters.
  • Defining industrial hemp based on the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol it contains.
  • Authorizing the growing and possessing of industrial hemp.
  • Requiring state licensing of industrial hemp growers.
  • Promoting research and development of markets for industrial hemp.
  • Excluding industrial hemp from the definition of controlled substances under state law.
  • Establishing a defense to criminal prosecution under drug possession or cultivation

Note that some states laws establishing commercial industrial hemp programs require a change in federal law or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency before those programs can be implemented by the state.

Two other states—Connecticut and New Hampshire—have passed laws that establish studies of potential industrial hemp production in the state.”

For a complete list of states that have rules in place allowing for industrial hemp, read my other article on Industrial Hemp Production Should Not Go Up In Smoke.

Let’s hope this innovation comes to into fruition, since the benefits are great.

As far as some of the concerns about getting high, Mosrie had this to say. “We tell folks they would have to smoke the master bedroom to get high! It would take smoking 2500 lbs of the hemp to get high, so it is a losing effort.”