Every time we publish an article about Hempcrete, we get a lot of comments on social media - with a certain level of irony - about what would happen if the material caught fire. This is actually a legitimate question, as there is still a lot of confusion about the differences between marijuana and hemp, both of which come from the same plant species (Cannabis Sativa). But while marijuana has psychoactive effects due to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), mainly present in the flowers of the plant, hemp-based building materials are produced from its stem, which contains small amounts of THC. To quickly answer the title question: no, the building won't be destroyed in the event of a fire. In fact, some tests have shown that these materials have excellent behavior against fire, dissipate flames, maintain structural integrity, and don't emit toxic smoke.
Hemp: The Latest Architecture and News
Hemp is one of the oldest crops domesticated by humans. With its wide variety of uses and applications, it’s easy to understand why it’s been a desirable product throughout history. Hemp seeds and flowers are used in health foods, medicines, and organic beauty products; the fibers and stalks of the hemp plant are used in clothing, paper, and biofuel. Today even a waste product of hemp fiber processing, so-called hemp shives, is being utilized to create sustainable building materials like hempcrete.
Sustainability. A word that, for many of us, has been driven into our minds from the very start of our careers as architects. We have a responsibility to the planet and future generations to design buildings that are socially conscious—from solar panels to triple-glazed windows, we have tried it all.
Ultimately, whether our designs are sustainable comes down to the early decisions we make for the building, with our choice of materials having a huge effect on the overall carbon footprint. With new technologies come new ways of incorporating abundantly found materials into the skin of the building that could reduce the building's embodied energy and enhance the structure's properties.
In this article, we have compiled a list of 8 familiar materials that you wouldn't initially associate with sustainability but which you might consider for your next design.