Several stories worldwide highlighted the emergence of hemp as an economically viable and environmentally friendly construction alternative.
Over the past year, Nothing But Hemp has provided many captivating stories concerning using hemp as a new and exciting raw material for construction in the United States and beyond.
As detailed in "Is Hemp The Future of Construction," the primary construction material produced from hemp, known as "hempcrete," is made by mixing hemp hurd, the inner woody core of the hemp plant's stalk, with an organic lime-based binder and water. Before the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was illegal for over a century in the United States. However, the multi-faceted crop had been a staple agricultural product for hundreds of years in America. In addition, many of the Founding Fathers successfully cultivated hemp before and after the establishment of the Republic.
Architects and builders knew the value of "hempcrete" long before the advent of more modern building materials like steel and concrete. However, when the anti-marijuana hysteria of the early 20th century began to outlaw all things associated with the much-maligned and misunderstood cannabis plant, hemp was also made illegal. The Farm Bill's enactment changed that, allowing for innovative and environmentally conscious construction to utilize hempcrete.
The advantages of hemp construction:
Capable of handling a greater degree of movement than concrete
Exceptionally durable; it can last hundreds of years
Non-toxic and good for the environment - Excellent Carbon Sequestration
Highly resistant to mold and moisture
Despite the advantages and benefits associated with utilizing hemp building materials, hemp-based construction still only accounts for a relatively small number of structures in the U.S. and abroad. In reality, only a few hundred properties are made from hempcrete in America. A few factors contributing to that small number are lack of knowledge and availability. However, with time, education, and a more robust and diversified supply chain, hemp can emerge as a substantial option for construction companies in the near future.
However, those limitations experienced in the U.S. have not deterred other enterprising building visionaries around the world. In "Hemp Is Helping Rebuild Ukraine," we detailed the brave and determined efforts of builder Sergiy Kovalenkov, the founder and CEO of the construction company Hempire UA in Ukraine. Before Russian military forces illegally invaded the sovereign nation, Kovalenkov had been building eco-friendly housing with "hempcrete" in Ukraine since 2015.
He was forced to halt all construction when the war started, but now that there appears to be hope for an end to hostilities, he intends to channel his efforts and attention to help rebuild his shattered nation one hemp building at a time. He started a non-profit fund called "Hemp. Ukraine. Recover.", dedicated to creating sustainable hemp-based housing and psychological assistance for citizens and veterans impacted by the violent invasion.
The first priority for the fund is a 30-unit apartment complex for refugee families and orphans near the city of Morshyn. It is part of a three-phase project that includes the restoration of a dairy building and new construction.
Kovalenkov's group hopes to raise close to $1.5 million to help complete the apartment complex and begin constructing additional housing and a rehabilitation center for Ukrainian war veterans as part of the other phases of the initiative. As part of the rebuilding effort, he is also encouraging veterans from Ukraine and worldwide to participate in the project as part of the healing process.
As he shares, "We'll be inviting veterans from other countries to assist us on the construction of this project and share PTSD recovery experience with thousands of our veterans, who will also be involved in hemp construction."
"We'll be inviting veterans from other countries to assist us on the construction of this project and share PTSD recovery experience with thousands of our veterans, who will also be involved in hemp construction."
- Sergiy Kovalenkov, the Founder and CEO of Hempire UA
Along with Ukraine, hemp-based construction is also beginning to take hold in the United Kingdom, Germany and many other European nations that have begun cultivating hemp for uses ranging from construction materials to food and eco-friendly plastics.
There has been a tremendous amount of destruction to the planet during 2022. From catastrophic weather events brought on by devastating climate change to egregious acts of war in Ukraine, Syria and around the world, mother earth has taken quite a beating this year.
However, one of the most enduring characteristics of the human species is our resiliency and undying capacity to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. With the power and multi-layered healing provided by the hemp plant, the ability to mentally, emotionally and physically rebuild this, at times, broken world is one of the many gifts bestowed by this most fragile and powerful flower.