Challenges in the Hemp Building Industry

Challenges in the Hemp Building Industry

Posted by Jeremy Gregory on May 20th 2022

Why is it so hard to be good?

Here we are going into the 2022 growing season; about four years since the U.S. Farm bill was passed allowing for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp, and still, we do not have an established supply chain nor the consistent and much needed support from various actors and stakeholders that could make this industry strong and flourish and with that, begin to make a profound impact in our society in many ways; economically and environmentally, all the while generating revenue and stimulating economies.

So, it brought hope to my rising cynicism and jaded attitude to see that the U.S. Hemp Building Association is one pioneering entity positively impacting the hemp industry.

In addition to offering educational events and providing member resources, the U.S. Hemp Building Association proactively focuses on hemp building in the United States by moving forward with approval in U.S. building codes for hemp + lime insulation, more commonly known as hempcrete.

Hempcrete is a big-time green building solution.

It has been used in Europe for over 30 years. Hemp building materials can greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the construction and demolition industry, which contributes almost 40% of greenhouse gasses and fills 25% of landfills worldwide. And pioneers like Tony Budden; co-founder of Hemporium, have built a house almost entirely made of hemp, and one would never even know it was in fact made of hemp. It is aesthetically beautiful and unlike other traditionally built houses, is non-toxic, has a high R rating and is so much better for the planet and those that live in this amazing structure. This can be the way of the future!

But, enormous hurdles remain to bringing hemp building to the United States. Challenges include: Using materials from a plant that was only recently legalized after 80 years of prohibition, navigating a supply chain that is barely in existence while facing a scarcity of products, and lacking uniform and consistent standards.

USHBA has jumped in to try to make things happen. One monumental step includes the USHBA initiating a campaign to get hempcrete approved strategically in the system of thousands of U.S. building jurisdictions. Skilled organization, educational opportunities, and critical communication with other stakeholders and agencies are just a few of the value points the USHBA provides. And this fall, they plan to release a series of measurements and standards for hemp building materials that can guide the emerging U.S. hemp industry to create the best manufactured raw materials for building products.

One thing I commend and support the USBHA in creating is their diversity and inclusion wing, which sponsors workforce skills training and scholarships for workshops so members of underserved populations can learn green building skills.

The organization is also working on a series of instructional videos and resources, the USHBA Hemp Building Guide based on the supporting technical documents submitted to the International Code Council. Animated cartoons will answer questions for those curious about hemp building, while technical details will provide resources for building permitting departments.

This is what the hemp industry needs; entities like the U.S. Hemp Building Association. We implore anyone who wants to see this industry succeed and by extension a healthier planet by supporting the USHBA. You can learn more about them by going to https://ushba.org/

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