Is it Possible to Use Hemp as a Building Material and Insulator?

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Home Improvement

What Homes Can’t be Built with Hemp?

Hemcrete is a type of concrete-like block made by mixing dried hemp stems with lime. Russ Martin, the ex-mayor of Ashville, North Carolina, used Hemcrete to construct the walls of his 3,400-square-foot home. The slurry, made from the moisture-laden “shiv,” is poured into wall forms and hardens to create a thick, high-insulation wall. A 12-inch-thick Hemcrete wall has an R-value of R-28. It cost Martin $133 per square foot to build the first hemp house in the United States in 2009, which was well above the national average of $83.89. The U.S. government’s classification of all Cannabis sativa as marijuana, despite industrial hemp having less THC, means that it is illegal to cultivate, and U.S. suppliers are forced to import industrial hemp products, which can be very expensive. Canada is leading the way in the use of hemp as an industrial crop, and in 2007, exported 862 tons of industrial hemp, with 59% of it going to the United States. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2010, which would have allowed commercial farming of industrial hemp, was not approved. Therefore, homeowners must weigh the eco-benefits of hemp against its higher cost when considering greener building materials.

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More Great Information

  • Industrial Hemp
  • North American Industrial Hemp Council
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture


The following sources provide information on industrial hemp, including statistics, legislative briefings, and articles on hemp building materials and insulation. These sources include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, CNN, USA Today, and the National Home Builder’s Association. The sources also cover topics such as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2010 and the market potential for industrial hemp in the United States. Additionally, the sources discuss the use of hemp in building materials and insulation, including hempcrete, a hemp-lime composite insulation for walls.


1. Can hemp be used as a building material?

Yes, hemp can be used as a building material. Hempcrete is a lightweight mixture of hemp hurds and lime that is used as a construction material. It has been used in Europe for decades and is gaining popularity in North America as a sustainable and energy-efficient alternative to traditional building materials.

2. Is hempcrete strong enough to use as a building material?

Although hempcrete is not as strong as concrete, it is still a durable material that can be used for construction. It has good insulation properties and is resistant to fire, pests, and mold. Hempcrete is also lightweight, which makes it easier to work with and can reduce transportation costs.

3. How is hempcrete made?

Hempcrete is made by mixing the inner woody core of the hemp plant (hurds) with a lime-based binder and water. The mixture is then poured into forms to create walls, floors, and roofs. Hempcrete is a sustainable material because it is made from a renewable resource and has a low carbon footprint.

4. Can hemp be used for insulation?

Yes, hemp can be used for insulation. Hemp insulation is made from the fibers of the hemp plant and is used to insulate walls, floors, and roofs. It has good thermal and acoustic properties and is resistant to fire, pests, and mold. Hemp insulation is also environmentally friendly because it is made from a renewable resource and is biodegradable.

5. How does hemp insulation compare to other types of insulation?

Hemp insulation has similar thermal and acoustic properties to other types of insulation, such as fiberglass and cellulose. However, it is more environmentally friendly because it is made from a renewable resource and has a low carbon footprint. Hemp insulation is also easier to work with than some other types of insulation because it does not require protective clothing or respiratory protection.

6. Does hemp insulation require any special installation techniques?

Hemp insulation is easy to install and does not require any special techniques. It can be installed using standard tools and techniques, such as stapling or nailing. However, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines to ensure proper installation.

7. Is hemp insulation more expensive than other types of insulation?

Hemp insulation is generally more expensive than other types of insulation, such as fiberglass and cellulose. However, it is important to consider the long-term benefits of using a sustainable and environmentally friendly material. Hemp insulation can also provide energy savings over time, which can help offset the initial cost.

8. Is hemp insulation safe for indoor air quality?

Yes, hemp insulation is safe for indoor air quality. It does not contain any harmful chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can off-gas into the air. Hemp insulation is also hypoallergenic and can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

9. Can hemp insulation be used in all types of construction?

Hemp insulation can be used in most types of construction, including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. It can be used in new construction or retrofitted into existing buildings. Hemp insulation is also compatible with most types of building materials and systems.

10. Is hemp insulation readily available?

Hemp insulation is becoming more readily available as demand for sustainable building materials grows. It can be purchased from specialty suppliers and some home improvement stores. It is important to research suppliers and ensure that the product meets local building codes and standards.

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