As more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medical purposes, the housing industry is increasingly looking to embrace it as a building material too, The New York Times reports.
North Carolina boasts the first modern U.S. hemp house, which was constructed in 2010. About 50 homes in the country have since popped up with hemp built in.
Hemp structures date back to Roman times. But now, some builders want to bring it back to their markets, since it’s known for being a fast-growing, sustainable product.
“Mixing hemp’s woody fibers with lime produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating,” The New York Times reports. “No pests, no mold, good acoustics, low humidity, no pesticide. It grows from seed to harvest in about four months.”
As for the smell? “It smells a little like lime,” says Sergiy Kovalenkov, a Ukrainian civil engineer who has built hemp structures in the Ukraine. “We’re using the stock. You cannot smell cannabis—it has nothing to do with smoking weed or cannabis plants. It’s an industrial agriculture crop.”
To clarify, industrial hemp is not the same as the product that can give you a buzz. It contains only 0.3 percent of the substance THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
But builders are finding hemp houses can be difficult to build. Even in areas that have made marijuana legal, developers still often must have special permits to build with hemp. International standards also still do not exist yet for building with hemp or codes that regulate how it should be used structurally or safely.
Source: “High Times Beckon for Using Hemp to Build Houses,” The New York Times (Jan. 29, 2018