Las Vegas, NV, Feb. 22, 2022, The dream green building material for many building professionals may be one step closer to being certified as one of the United States’ national building materials in the US building codes, as reported that hempcrete was submitted as an appendix in the International Residential Codes (IRC) last month by the US Hemp Building Foundation.
According to the news source, once hempcrete is approved or certified as a national building material, the material will be “accessible to the standard person to construct with” and “allow you to build with it without needing an alternative material variance.”
Certification of hempcrete will ultimately help permitting departments gain more familiarity with the material which is new to many since legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, especially since it has a big barrier.
The US Hemp Building Association has been trying to establish “best practices and rules for acceptance” by the IRC and many are optimistic that new hempcrete codes will spark a “groundswell of interest”.
In other News, Actual Hemp Houses are being built as reported by
The professional association representing the US hemp building industry moved forward to certify hemp and lime (hempcrete) insulation in US building codes this month. Hempcrete was submitted as an appendix in the International Residential Codes on Jan. 10 by the US Hemp Building Foundation, the non-profit arm of the US Hemp Building Association.
The idea is to give U.S. building permitting departments a familiarity with the material, which is new to the United States after hemp was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. “These documents will show a pathway for using hempcrete as a building material,” USHBA President Jacob Waddell told Let’s Talk Hemp. “The goal is to allow you to build with hempcrete without needing an alternative material variance,” he added. An international committee of hemp building experts and advocates prepared the paperwork to submit to the International Code Council. IRC code experts will evaluate the paperwork in March and again in September to enshrine hemp + lime as an approved natural building material.
Eventually, inclusion in the IRC should “allow for hempcrete to be accessible to the standard person to construct with it,” Waddell said. Hempcrete, a non-structural insulation made of hemp hurd (shiv) and lime binder, provides a superior insulation product when installed up to 1 foot thick in wall assemblies. The material is vapor-permeable, thermally regulating, fire resistant and repels mold and pests. Hempcrete insulation is carbon negative due to the large amounts of carbon sequestered by the hemp plant via photosynthesis while growing.
Used Widely in Europe The US building industry has some catching up to do when it comes to the international use of hemp in building materials. Hempcrete has been employed as a carbon-negative insulation for 30 years in Europe, as an insulating construction material for large department stores in the United Kingdom and multistory residential buildings and public facilities in France. Patchwork of US Building Departments Right now in the United States, builders, engineers and architects who want to use hempcrete must gain approval project-by-project in the absence of an overarching national code to point to, said Texas-based developer Ray Kaderli, of the Hemp Build Network. Kaderli’s company was just permitted by the city of San Antonio to build a hempcrete-insulated three-bedroom/two-bath 1,300 sq. ft. home. Kaderli, a member of USHBA, praised the organization for moving forward with certification for hempcrete. “With a new industry there are many things to do,” Kaderli said in an email. “This was one of the most important first steps. I’m grateful [USHBA] had the insight and discipline to focus in this direction.”
The certification process also leads the way to apply to certify hempcrete in the International Building Codes for commercial buildings in 2024, when the next application process begins, USHBA president Waddell said. The material still needs to pass various ASTM fire tests as well as tests for structural bracing, Waddell said, for which the foundation will continue to raise funds. Straw Bale Builders Paved the Way USHBA hired engineering and natural building consultants, including two straw bale construction pioneers who helped get straw bale construction certified in the US residential building codes in the early 2000s. About two dozen hemp-building experts worked on the IRC submission for countless hours since October, Waddell said.
Right now, the application submitted to the IRC only includes one-story structures to be insulated with hempcrete wall assemblies without extra engineering. This is a start that will be built upon to expand hempcrete’s role in the building codes, as more data and research is submitted and approved, Waddell said. “Submitting to the IRC is just the first step in a very long process to get hempcrete where we’re able to use it more readily,” Waddell said.
The USHBA has about 200 active members and raised about $50,000 through its foundation for certification expenses and a series of other projects, including workforce development and creating educational materials, Waddell said. The organization will host a members-only online event on Saturday, Jan. 30, where more information about the IRC certification will be shared. 6,000-sq. ft Hemp Home Befuddled Permit Officials
The Massachusetts building permit official who approved one of last year’s largest hempcrete projects built on US soil last year, was initially confused at the rough inspection of the Cape Cod Hemp House, said Mary Dempsey, of Mpactful Ventures.
“The building inspector took one look and said, ‘Wait a minute, where’s your plywood?’ Then he muttered, ‘I gotta go study these plans better,’” she told Let’s Talk Hemp. Even though the Cape Cod Hemp House relied on engineering approval and didn’t have difficulty getting a permit, Dempsey said including hempcrete in the IRC codes will help local building permitting authorities better understand how it works and what it can and cannot do.
Hempcrete will figure into the construction of eco-friendly homes and buildings.
Mpactful Ventures and Dempsey helped steer the USHBA study group to gather the paperwork and research together to submit to the IRC. “People from all over the world were helping by reading this [document] to hopefully move an entire industry forward,” Dempsey said. “I’m really proud to have been part of it.” This article also appeared in HempBuild Magazine.
Is It Possible to Reach Carbon Negativity?
It is possible to reach carbon negativity — but it will take a coordinated effort to reduce emissions from their source and a significant number of offsets to get there.
One of the best ways to realistically reach carbon negativity is to employ different methods of carbon reduction to complement lowering emissions from the source. These include nature-based solutions, enhanced nature solutions, and direct air carbon capture — all of which can be done directly by companies, or through offsetting projects, which is typically easier and more verifiable.
It takes effort, a coordinated approach, and conscious investment — both of money and time — to reach true carbon negativity. But it is possible, as some major brands and corporations are proclaiming they will reach this goal as early as 2030.
How Can Companies and Individuals Reach Carbon Negative Goals?
There are many simple and practical ways for people and companies to get within striking distance of being carbon negative. From there, it is up to them to make the extra effort to achieve this status associated with offsetting more carbon than they emit.
First things first, make sure all energy used in direct operations comes from renewables or other carbon-free sources, such as nuclear. This applies to company activities that directly use energy and individual activities that use energy within the home.
Next, it is imperative to reduce indirect emissions as much as possible. For a company, this can be done by reviewing a supply chain to find suppliers and logistics that create less emissions or by limiting employee Scope 3 emissions, such as those attributable to commuting to and from work. For individuals, this can be done by making smart choices outside the home, from riding that bike to eating that locally grown food.
Lastly, after you’ve tallied up the total carbon footprint for yourself or your company, invest in more offsets than the amount of carbon emitted. It is important to ensure that the offsets you purchase are verified and of good quality, ideally with co-benefits for nature and communities in areas that they are generated. Remember: one credit typically equals 1 metric ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere — you just need to buy one more credit than tons you’ve emitted to reach carbon negative status.
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