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Hemp for homes - the new construction material

A form of cannabis could be used to construct carbon-neutral homes, a group of researchers has said.

The consortium, led by the University of Bath’s BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, has begun a project to develop construction materials of hemp together with a lime-based adhesive.

The three year project, worth almost £750,000, will collect scientific and engineering data about the new material so that it can be more widely used in the UK for building homes.

Hanson Cement and Wates Living Space are also involved in the research, for which the university received a grant of £391,000 from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Professor Pete Walker said the hemp plant stored carbon during its growth and this, combined with the low carbon footprint of lime and its efficient insulating properties, could give the material a “better than zero carbon” footprint.

He added: “We will be looking at the feasibility of using hemp-lime in place of traditional materials, so that they can be used widely in the building industry.

“We will be measuring the properties of lime-hemp materials, such as their strength and durability, as well as the energy efficiency of buildings made of these materials.”

Professor Walker said it would only take an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp to build a typical three-bedroom house.