Hemp takes root in the home

From flower power to home insulation – hemp is weaving a future in sustainable construction.

Hemp takes root in the home

From flower power to home insulation – hemp is weaving a future in sustainable construction.

A sustainable and environmentally friendly material made from the woody core of the hemp plant has been created as an alternative to traditional building insulation.

HempWool insulation is both non-toxic and biodegradable, and according to its maker, is also highly efficient and has great moisture regulation.

It was developed by Hempitecture, a company founded eleven years ago by architect Matthew Mead and sustainability expert Tommy Gibbons to promote the use of hemp-based materials in the construction industry.

Cleaner, greener construction

Conventional cavity insulation batts made from fibreglass and foam can contain harmful toxins and also contribute to pollution.

Hemp, in contrast, is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet, boosting its sustainability credentials. And it can also capture atmospheric carbon twice as effectively as forests while providing carbon-negative biomaterials for architects and designers, according to Cambridge University researcher Darshil Shah.

Hempitecture has collaborated with the University of Idaho on research and development, and recently opened a 33,000-square-foot factory in Idaho, a first-of-its-kind manufacturing plant geared towards mass-producing sustainable building material solutions like HempWool.

The company crowdfunded the project, attracting more than 1,800 investors and $US4.6 million in funding.

Insulation batts and beyond

“HempWool is a one-to-one replacement for conventional insulation products,” says Mead.

“It’s a non-toxic insulation material and it’s made from rapidly-renewable natural fibers, making it the smartest choice for a healthy, energy efficient building project.”

Mead told Cool Green Tech that there are plans to broaden Hempitecture’s focus beyond cavity insulation and into whole home and building thermal solutions.

“Hempitecture is eyeing strategic regional expansion across the US,” he says.

"It's a non-toxic insulation material and it's made from rapidly-renewable natural fibres."

The tech

Hempwool has strong thermal properties when it comes to regulating indoor temperatures and reducing energy consumption. Because it is natural and breathable, hemp is also able to control moisture and is fire-resistant. Being lightweight, it is also easy to handle and install, reducing labour and transportation costs and has no abrasive, skin irritating fibres.

Who funds it

Hempitecture has attracted more than 1,800 investors and $US5.7 million in funding through crowdfunding.

Is it ready to roll

Hempitecture recently opened a facility in Idaho, a first of its kind manufacturing plant to mass-produce HempWool.