Expert Update | Investing in plant

Expert Update | Investing in plant

Will Stanwix from the Hemp Block Company puts forward the case for hemp as a material for building houses. 

Many ‘green’ potential housebuyers may be unaware that buildings are responsible for around half of total greenhouse gas emissions. Harmful emissions are produced during the production of building materials, construction process and throughout the ongoing maintenance, heating and cooling of our buildings, once occupied. 

The most effective sustainable remedy to this growing environmental threat would be to swap the standard high-energy, petrochemical-based insulation with an eco-friendly, non-flammable, natural alternative. Ideally, this material would be highly insulating too; as well as durable, sound absorbing and energy-saving. Even better, it would be toxin-free, impervious to mould and pests, highly fire-resistant and carbon negative (able to lock up more carbon than it emits).

This is no green dream. The good news is that this building material already exists. The bad news is that despite being around for almost 40 years, hempcrete is still not used as standard in construction. So, why not?

Climate change and sustainability are increasingly becoming a key consideration. 32% of UK consumers are now highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and 28% have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns. Hempcrete reduces greenhouse gas emissions, making it a truly sustainable building material.

Architects and construction companies are aware of the significant health and environmental benefits of hempcrete, but we are competing with huge, long-established building material manufacturers with immense marketing power. 

As things stand, smaller hempcrete companies can’t compete and current building controls don’t make it easy for the hemp block housebuilder. For us to move towards a more toxin-free, planet-friendly mode of construction, we need support from government and new legislation and it all starts with education. Developers need to be informed about the negative health and environmental implications of an outdated construction model and demand sustainable, healthier materials as standard. 

What are hempcrete blocks?
Hempcrete is a natural, breathable building material with many advantages, unfortunately there have traditionally been several issues which have restricted its wider use, namely, requiring specialist knowledge, inconsistent supply and ultimately higher cost.

Hemp Block Company has resolved these issues by making hempcrete blocks, which require no specialist skills or equipment to use. They can be used in a variety of ways, from roof insulation to wall construction and flooring and are completely biodegradable after use.

Unlike conventional insulation materials, hempcrete does not contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which “off-gas” toxic chemicals into our homes.

The blocks help regulate internal humidity, which stops condensation gathering on wall surfaces. This prevents the formation of damp and mould spores, both of which can be harmful to human health. Optimum indoor humidity (between 40-60%) also helps to stop the spread of viral and bacterial infections.

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