Europe: Hemp Material 'May Aid Green Homes'
By Press Association
A form of cannabis could be used to build carbon-neutral homes of the future, university researchers have said.
A consortium, led by the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials at the University of Bath, has embarked on a housing project to develop the use of construction materials made of hemp.
Hemp-lime is a lightweight building material made of fibres from the fast-growing cannabis plant, bound together using a lime-based adhesive.
The hemp plant stores carbon during its growth and this, combined with the low carbon footprint of lime and its efficient insulating properties, gives the material a "better than zero carbon" footprint, researchers said.
Professor Pete Walker, director of the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, said: "We will be looking at the feasibility of using hemp-lime in place of traditional materials, so that they can be used widely in the building industry.
"We will be measuring the properties of lime-hemp materials, such as their strength and durability, as well as the energy efficiency of buildings made of these materials.
"Using renewable crops to make building materials makes real sense - it only takes an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp to build a typical three bedroom house."
The three-year project, worth almost £750,000, will collect scientific and engineering data about this new material so it can be more widely used in the UK for building homes.
The project brings together a team of nine partners: BRE Ltd, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio architects, Hanson Cement, Hemcore, Lhoist UK, Lime Technology, National Non-Food Crops Centre, University of Bath and Wates Living Space.
As part of the project the University of Bath received a research grant of £391,000 from the Renewable Materials LINK programme run by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.