As the stigma around cannabis fades, America is finally beginning to give hemp the attention it deserves. Although it doesn't get as many headlines, hemp's potential might be even greater than that of its THC-ridden cousin. Rich in medically beneficial CBD, hemp can also be used to make clothing fibers, alternative fuel, protein-heavy foods and much more, including building materials.
Hempcrete, or hemp-lime construction material, has been impressing sustainability lovers and YouTube viewers with both its low carbon footprint and efficiency compared to traditional concrete. Left Hand Hemp, a construction company that specializes in building with hempcrete, wants to make the material even more mainstream by teaching you how to build with it.
Left Hand Hemp will hold a workshop from Saturday, September 30, through Thursday, October 5, that will teach contractors, architects, homeowners and sustainability and design professionals how to create hempcrete and use it as an insulator for buildings. Made of a mix of water, lime and hemp hurd (the inner stalk of the hemp plant), hempcrete weighs less than concrete and could even be tougher against the elements, according to Left Hand Hemp president Kelly Thornton.
"Hemp as a natural building material is superior to other insulation materials because it is fireproof, resistant to mold, pests and weather," she says. Students will learn all about Thornton's love for hempcrete as they help build a sixteen-by-twenty-foot workshop building made from the material over the course of her six-day class. The building will be the first permitted hempcrete structure in the city of Denver, according to Left Hand Hemp.
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Hempcrete naturally regulates humidity and temperature and gets stronger over time, Thornton says, absorbing carbon dioxide as it cures in a building. Proponents believe it can replace traditional insulation and drywall; its powerful resistance to fire has been well documented on viral Internet videos, like the one below.
Colorado's legalization of marijuana for adult use has opened up a new arena for hemp growers and processors. Although growing industrial hemp requires a license from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, there are now dozens of outlets in the state where you can buy hemp hurds and other product; there's even a website for classified advertisements, Hemp's List.
Students attending Left Hand Hemp's class will learn about the properties of hempcrete as well as best practices for how to properly build a structure from it from the foundation up; they'll even get some recipes. The class will take place at a private residence in the Park Hill neighborhood; the address will be shared upon registration. The six-day workshop is $650, but one-day and three-day options are available for $150 and $375, respectively. Registration includes a campsite, two meals a day and learning materials; find out more and sign up here.