Hemp in Building Materials

Howie Goldfinger, CEO, Ecorite

Rising on the downtown area of Cape Town, a 12-storey building is now the world’s tallest to be constructed from hempcrete blocks and hemp building materials. On the outskirts of Paris, a new athletics and sports complex was recently built almost completely out of hemp. In various parts of the globe, ‘hempcrete’, as it is called, is being used in commercial structures and homes looking to demonstrate a greener, more sustainable way of building.

Hempcrete blocks are made from the stems of hemp plants, which are very tall and have a very stout wood core to them. The shiv, as the chopped up woody bits are referred to, are later combined with lime and binding agents to create blocks that can be assembled like Lego® blocks.

These blocks are carbon-negative, meaning that more carbon is taken out of the atmosphere in the value-add process than is produced – a real side benefit in creating them or using them. It turns out that not only are these blocks energy-efficient to make, they also are energy-efficient in their ongoing use in the buildings they are in because of their thermal insulation qualities, which lowers the cost for heating and cooling these structures, saving money and the environment simultaneously.

Here are two more benefits to building with hemp: the material is both fire and mold resistant. These qualities are unlike wood, or even Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS), otherwise known as synthetic stucco. Remarkable stuff. So why aren’t more builders using hempcrete instead of conventional building materials? The reasons stem largely from cost and availability, however this dynamic will likely change as more and more biomass is created from both hemp and cannabis production globally.

The same rationale that supports the use of hemp in building materials somewhat fueled Ecorite’s drive to introduce hemp products into our lineup. Our beautiful new B3500 Hemp Cinch Pouch and B3505 Hemp Shopper Tote are two examples of the kind of forward-thinking that Ecorite both admires and emulates in our product choices. I invite you to inquire about these unique products that have a singular look and feel to them. Have a look at them first-hand and see what the future holds in eco-friendly innovation.