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Hemp homes offer ‘better than zero’ carbon footprint

hemp-houseHemp could hold the key to the future of carbon-neutral construction, according to researchers at the University of Bath.

Hemp is a fast-growing, non-intoxicating member of the cannabis family.

Working with a consortium led by the university’s BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, the researchers have embarked on a project to develop the use of hemp-lime construction materials in the UK.

Hemp-lime is a lightweight composite material made of plant fibres bound together with a lime-based adhesive. The material offers a trio of benefits: lime has a low-carbon footprint, hemp-lime is an efficient insulator and hemp stores atmospheric carbon as it grows. The result, researchers say, is a construction material with a “better than zero” carbon footprint.

“Using renewable crops to make building materials makes real sense — it only takes an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp to build a typical three bedroom house,” said Pete Walker, director of the BRE Centre. “Growing crops such as hemp can also provide economic and social benefits to rural economies through new agricultural markets for farmers and associated industries.”

The three-year project, worth almost £750,000, will work with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio architects, Hanson Cement, Hemcore, Lhoist UK, Lime Technology, National Non-Food Crops Centre and Wates Living Space.

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