Awareness is rising how hemp used as building materials could contribute in mitigating climate change.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ 2010 report on Low Carbon Construction concluded that construction was responsible for around 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is almost 47% of the UK’s total. If we can convert plants into building materials, we are in a win-win situation.
The plant acts as a carbon store, sequestering (absorbing) atmospheric CO2 for as long as the plant continues to exist. This CO2 is only re-released when the material is composted or burnt, and the great thing is that through replanting it you can re-absorb this CO2 annually, in the case of straw or hemp, or every decade or so in the case of timber, rather than the 300m years that it takes to recycle coal or oil. Secondly, plant based materials can be used to make high performing building envelopes, protecting against external weather and making a building more comfortable, healthy and energy efficient to live in.
Image: Sammy Spratt from Hempire, UK