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HEMPCRETE – A NEW DAY FOR BUILDING

The legalization of Cannabis in so many countries and US states is altering perceptions about marijuana and rejuvenating a long-dormant industrial hemp industry. Unlike its psycho-tropic cousin marijuana, hemp cannot make you high. It is a fast-growing, durable, incredibly versatile plant that has been cultivated for centuries. Now it’s being used to make a new construction material: hempcrete.

History

Weaving hemp fiber dates back as far as 8000 B.C. In the 16th century, British farmers grew hemp to supply riggings, sails and pennants to the Naval Fleet.  Maps, logs and bibles were printed on hemp paper. By the early 1700s, American farmers were required to grow hemp on their land. For more than 200 years, hemp was considered currency. By 1850, there were 8,400 hemp plantations that grew China, Smyrna and Japanese hemp. The Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 effectively put a stop to growing hemp in America. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act grouped hemp and marijuana into the same category as harmful and dangerous substances.

A Growing Industry

Now that growing hemp is again legal in thirteen states, hundreds of US farmers are embracing the opportunity to plant a crop that is a natural weed suppressor, improves soil in crop rotation, and whose deep roots naturally aerate the soil. There’s a great market for it; hemp can be used to make clothing, paper, canvas, fish nets, oil, flour, biodegradable plastic, and hundreds of other everyday items.

Europe is way ahead of the US in production of hemp and hemp goods. The European Industrial Hemp Association’s (EIHA) June, 2018 conference – the organization’s 15th meeting - drew 340 participants from 41 countries. Membership is comprised of European hemp processing companies within the EU that manufacture pulp and paper, insulation and biocomposites for construction, and food, feed and pharmaceuticals.

In Colorado, the population isn’t the only sector experiencing rapid growth. Hemp farms are popping up everywhere. In 2014, 1,400 acres were growing hemp; today, 17,000 acres of land are cultivating the resilient crop. Left-Hand Hemp, owned by founder and CEO Kelly Thornton, will be the first Colorado hemp company to construct homes using hempcrete.

Made from hemp hurds (the wooden, hidden core), a lime binder and water, hempcrete is non-structural material that is cast around a timber, steel or concrete frame. It is not intended to be load-bearing like cement. It is lightweight and insulating, and slightly resembles cement. Hempcrete offers other benefits:  

  • Sustainable - non-toxic and not harmful to the environment
  • Energy-efficient
  • Fire- and pest-proof
  • Resistant to water and rot
  • CO2-isolating

One obstacle facing hemp farmers in Colorado and nearby states is the dearth of local, industrial hemp processors. Although hemp is now available, it will be more expensive to build with it until the crop can be prepared locally for manufacturing. Until then, hemp growers will wait for the other pieces to fall into place. They know it will be worth it.

The construction industry’s future is brighter than ever. Ace Cutting looks forward to growing with it, supplying premium concrete cutting tools and masonry equipment. Visit our website, acecutting.com, or call us today at 888-283-2597.