UK: Hemp Utilized as Alternative Construction Material
By Electric UK, Editor
The UK’s Building Research Establishment Centre for Innovative Construction Materials at the University of Bath had just inaugurated a £740,000 venture, financed by construction businesses and the UK government, to develop and study the use of hemp as alternative building construction material. The new study was based from the findings of a French archaeologist who discovered a sixth-century-old stone bridge that had used hemp as mortar.
Cultivated for thousands of years, the durable fibre is mostly used to make ropes and textiles. Currently, hemp is processed for use in constructions.
Hemp is classified as the world’s second fastest growing agricultural produce after bamboo. Hemp requires no pesticide to grow and it matures in just four months. Farmers can then plant other crops on the remaining two-thirds of the year and can take advantage of the nutrients left behind in the soil earlier used from hemp. Mixed with a lime binder, industrial hemp can also be used to make house bricks.
It is believed that hemp can help with the carbon emission problems faced by countries today. Pete Walker, a hemp grower, estimates that a 300mm thick hemp wall stores about 33kgs of carbon dioxide, while in contrast, other manufacturing materials produce 100kgs of emissions.
Few decades ago, France started constructing houses by using hemp bricks. Meanwhile in the UK, several properties were being built using the fibre. Andnams brewery in Suffolk had constructed a 4,400sqm warehouse out of hemp. The brewery had used about 90,000 blocks during the construction, making it the biggest hemp structure in the world.