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The modern industrial revolution is a combination of "green" organic sources of materials, new technology and the advent of on-demand production.

CANNABIS & ECOLOGICAL HOUSING

Sustainable housing and building today goes far beyond the current systems and traditional products used.  There are a wealth of applications and products from the industrial cannabis innovations.  I am going to cover a few home building products being manufactured and used today.  These range from insulation to finished surfaces and materials.  Once you have built a house using “hempcrete” walls, many other ecological materials are available.  Each one is from the sustainable industrial applications of cannabis sativa (L).

insulationbats
First of these is typical insulation batts, just like fiberglass, but made of hemp fibres. Spun and cut into sections, this material fits standard wood frame construction. Carries the same R-value as fiberglass.  Hemp batts are fire resistant, mould resistant, insect resistant, water resistant and quite eco-friendly.  It can also be processed, just like rock wool, to be blown into attic spaces to increase insulation value on existing homes. A natural product that is grown and harvested on the farm. Captures carbon for the life of the home in the process.

If you’ve ever worked with standard fiberglass insulation, you’ll appreciate the difference. Many of the safety and environmental concerns are reduced or eliminated with this application of a sustainable economy.  In the final analysis, this material breaks down organically when if’s lifecycle is done.  Later you can compost the walls and insulation made of industrial cannabis and it simply returns to the carbon cycle in the soil.

hempboardAnother product on the market are building panels made of the core (hurd) materials.  Typical chip board and particle board can be manufactured from industrial cannabis. The wood chips used are up to 3/4” in length in standard products. Cannabis fibres can be up to 6” long for the same application. Some of these products are available now in Europe and North America.  Standard sheathing and flooring board, without the use of the same chemical processing, can replace traditional materials.  A new mini-factory coming on-line this year / early next year demonstrates the ability to produce building materials on demand.  In terms of a circular economy this innovation reduces manufacturing, transport costs and expenses.  It will be possible to locate a smaller facility near sources of supply.

Taken one step further, new materials, made of industrial cannabis are being developed right now. One of these is a marble-like counter top material that looks and feels just like the real thing.  This is a photo of the in-situ tests. As an innovative experiment, it sure shows just how versatile the plant really is. I was very excited when I saw this one. A friend who runs a construction company was simply amazed.  “This is made out of hemp?”, he asked. “Yes, including the binders which are made from the seed oil.”  I’ve mentioned the ZeoForm cellulose forming process in past articles. The countertop material is a similar process that does not require the same amount of processing of the core (hurd) cellulose. Ecological, organic and sustainable.

Another development is a spray foam material that replaces polyurethane foam directly. It is identical in consistency with a darker colour. Non-toxic, environmentally friendly and derived from pure hemp.  This innovation has to be further developed to become a serious alternative. The benefits are that it is a renewable, sustainable material without the use of typical chemicals.

enviroshake caribbeanFinal product note of the day is EnviroShake ~ made of 50% hemp fibre material designed to replicate cedar shakes. The look is identical. Weathers to look the same as cedar but has a lifetime warranty of 50 years.  A combination of recycled materials and bio-fibres are used to form a durable roof covering.  Beautiful, workable, ecological and a perfect application of a circular economy and cannabis. It’s a far cry from the early days of industrial hemp in Canada.

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