Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Building with Hemp

I'm a great fan of hemp fabric - soft, absorbent, comfortable and makes fewer environmental demands in its production than cotton. Now I've discovered a new use for the plant - no, not the one that hippies have known about since time immemorial!
It seems that hemp can be used to make bricks. Mixed with lime it produces blocks strong enought to build with, but a lot less energy is needed for this process than to make concrete. So if the building trade can be convinced of their suitability we could be seeing a lot more of them. I'd read of an experiment some years ago to use hemp in building a super-energy-efficient house but I'd forgotten about it until reminded this week by reading, somewhat late, an article on a brewery built from hemp. It sounds absolutely brilliant and well worth thinking about if you've got a building project in mind. After all, if the building material you use is such a good insulator that you don't need to heat the building in the middle of winter, think how much you'd save on fuel bills over a few years! It's almost enough to make me wish I were building a new house.
I also read of a school which is using innovative technology for its heating and has won the accolade of Britain's most eco-friendly school. How I wish that it were a Stockton school. I'm certainly going to be taking the information into discussions on Building Schools for the Future. I don't see why we can't learn from another council, especially when it's such an environmentally aware council.

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