Earlier this year, Croissy-Beaubourg France inaugurated the Pierre Chevet Sports Center, a multi-purpose sports facility. The facility is 4,000 square feet and made of hempcrete. It is also the first public building in France built with cannabis in concrete (hempcrete).
Although hempcrete is still not a common material, the concept of this building material is not new. In fact, hempcrete has a history thousands of years old. Nevertheless, cannabis in concrete is gradually gaining more attention due to the global effort to reduce carbon emissions.
Buildings generate almost 40 percent of global CO2 emissions each year, while building materials and construction contribute 11 percent more annually. As the climate crisis becomes more pressing, many construction companies have announced their commitment to cutting their carbon footprint. The sustainability of hempcrete is a major reason why architects and manufacturers are turning to natural materials like hemp. Hemp sequesters carbon rather than emits it.
Hemp, a strain of Cannabis Sativa containing no more than 0.3 percent of THC, is a renewable resource. A hemp plant doesn’t require pesticide treatments and can grow up to 13 feet in a few months. Hemp cultivates within 90-120 days, so it yields harvests several times a year.
Hempcrete is simply a mixture of hemp, water and lime. It can weigh about an eighth of regular concrete. And although hempcrete is more expensive than normal concrete, it can minimize noise transmission and is resistant to fire. In addition, hemp can also let moisture pass through it, eliminating the risk of having mold or pests.
The main challenge with hempcrete is that it has not proven practical for large construction projects. And currently, it is still more expensive than traditional concrete. Although in the long run, hempcrete can save on energy expenditure thanks to its insulating properties.
As companies and manufacturers seek a sustainable alternative material, hemp could be that untapped reservoir. In 2019, Canada’s hemp exports brought more than $110 million. And by 2030, hemp could turn into a billion-dollar industry.
A lot can be done with hempcrete. You can make bricks out of it. You can 3D print, or you can even spray it as a mixture inside walls in lieu of foam insulation. As hemp grows in popularity, perhaps not only can it help cut down our carbon footprint, but it could also contribute to the debate over legalizing cannabis, challenging the traditional legal divide between hemp and cannabis.