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Industrial hemp now being used to build homes

When you think about sustainable building methods and green design, hemp is probably not the first material that enters your mind, but in a short period of time, it has become a more widely accepted material that sacrifices no trees and is said to be a healthy, strong alternative.

That creepy line from Dazed and Confused

“I get older and they stay the same age…” It happens to be my favorite- yet super-creepy- quote from Dazed and Confused. Why do I share this with you, you ask? I am sharing that with you because I feel that sometimes in construction, the foremen, or the builders themselves stay with their old-school trends while the evolution of the products changes around them… the builder might not move along with the trend… so they get older, and they stay the same age flip flops in construction.

It is common in the age of energy efficiency and sustainability for builders to be hesitant to change from what they know, so they are comfortable with the “same age,” in effect. Sometimes new products and technologies don’t appeal to builders who have been doing things the same way for 30+ years. They have to learn something new and learning about a new product can be confusing, especially when it involves something like hemp.

Hemp Board, Hempcrete, hemp hurds, what is all of this stuff, anyway?! Everything can move a bit more slowly a few days after 4/20, am I right? What would I know about that? Nothing really. I’m a smarty-pants. That’s all. Let’s move on, shall we? Industrial hemp is not what you roll up and smoke, let’s get that clear. That is cannabis sativa, and industrial hemp is a far cry from that stuff.

Let’s experiment, shall we?

20 years ago back in Ireland, some folks decided that they were going to experiment with the hemp hurds in another alternative way, mixing the material into a lime base that boasts itself as not only cost effective, but fire-proof, pest resistant, a good product for a carbon neutral home production, and more.

Some folks say that this product is more easily worked than the traditional concrete counterpart and that it does not require expansion joints which would lessen the costliness of a project. Along with these proclaimed benefits, this hemp-based product is said to have a higher R-value (thermal resistance) than that of traditional concrete- but this is still being investigated. Around the country, carbon neutral builders and designers such as the folks at NauHaus are giving their kudos for the strength, durability and sustainability they believe to have found in this hemp based construction application.

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Hempcrete – a gateway product

Hempcrete isn’t the only hemp hurd based construction product out there. Learn some things about this gateway product! A few years ago at the 2009 Green Festival in DC, I was able to meet the folks who do the hemp board, and I got all excited about the possibility of building with this product, and now, the rage seems to be about the hempcrete product that boasts just about as many positives as the hemp board material.

Even back in 2009, the HempTraders had set up in front of the stage was a fort-like building made entirely of hemp. It was like “chunked and formed” made hardibacker, but it was made out of hemp! The man flashed a series of slides showing the progression of the process from the fields of hemp which seemed to stretch for thousands of acres to the chipped up final product. I was thinking that it could be a wonderful product for small or large projects where you are looking for an MDF alternative that provides for a healthier indoor air-quality.

It is impressive to know that not only can hemp be used for its fibrous stalks and oils, but also can be used in its hard pressed form as a sustainable, rapidly renewable building material. Hemp shives also known as hemp hurd is the “chunky part of the stalk that once it is stripped of the fiber” is used along with a no formaldehyde based resin to be pressed together to form the durable board that the aforementioned fort-like building was constructed. It really just look exactly like particle board, only it is smooth to the touch and you can see more of the grains of the fiber throughout the product.

The folks who were set up at the GreenFestival back in the day were the informative people of On their website, they mention that their “real medium density fiberboard made entirely from 100% hemp hurds. No tree was sacrificed to make this board. The binder used to hold it together in entirely environmental and uses no formaldehyde based resins. Use this board to make environmental furniture, counter tops, walls, and shelving. The number of uses are infinite. Save trees and improve your home at the same time with Hempboard.” has a fairly comprehensive written history of the plant from its origins to its current uses and how “materials made from hemp have been discovered in tombs dating back to 8,000 B.C.E.” As a healthy alternative to MDF for your household projects, look into the Hempboard and hempcrete as options and see what other possible green products you can use on your green remodeling project.

Looking to the use of new products, and technologies when building is just one way that you can try to reduce your impact on the environment and strive towards a healthier lifestyle and sustainability in construction. It doesn’t have to be so confusing.

Photo: hempcrete home in Asheville, courtesy of

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Written By

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 



  1. dr.Erniepaul Izereckt

    May 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Oh! Build Me-O-Home Where The Buffalo Foam n’ the deer n’ the antelope play!!!!!!!!!! Where seldom is heard-o-discouraging word n’ the skies R not cloudy all day!! HEMP,HEMP AIN’T SO STRANGE,MADE ALL INDIANS N’ HEAD-HUNTERS BRAVE….

  2. Pingback: How hemp could be used to stop marijuana at the border #YeahOk

  3. Pingback: Fighting fire with fire by building border wall out of hemp?

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