Welcome to my lightweight, fire-resistant, insect-repellent… hemp house

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Humans have utilized many materials for their homes throughout the ages, from wood to metal to concrete. But what about hemp?

Just BioFiber Structural Solutions, an Airdrie, Alberta-based company, has been utilizing hempcrete blocks made primarily from hemp hurd, lime and water. Hemp hurd comes primarily from the woody inner parts of the stalk of industrial hemp. While there are a few other forms of hempcrete, BioFiber is currently the only company in the world using insulated blocks.

The company has built a handful of hempcrete houses in British Coumbia, and currently is in the process of finalizing engineering tests to be listed in the National Building Code of Canada.

While the hempcrete resembles building blocks for children, they are also carbon negative, capturing CO2 at a rate four times faster than trees – approximately 130 kilograms of CO2 per cubed metre.

The hempcrete blocks from Just BioFiber Structural Solutions resemble children’s building blocks, but they are built to last.

The ratio of the three main ingredients depends on where it is being built and the purpose of the building. There is no standard hemp hurd size and it may include hemp flax or fibers. Some companies add pozzolans, siliceous minerals that can make the lime dry harder or faster, depending on what is needed.

The blocks are also lightweight, as well as fire-, insect and mold-resistant. They are cost-comparative to regular building materials and quicker to build, thanks to not needing steel or normal concrete. The only catch is that they cannot be used below ground.

Each block weights 28.7 pounds and can be cut using hand or power tools. BioFiber claims they are built to last for over 100 years.

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