Hemporium built an eco-friendly hemp house in Cape Town to showcase how industrial hemp can be used in construction to severely minimise the footprint of the industry. With hemp growing trials underway currently in SA, the legacy of this house will be many hemp houses grown locally.
With a wide variety of uses continually growing internationally, hemp is going mainstream. It is grown in more than 30 countries and is fast becoming recognised as a prime eco-friendly crop, not least because of its versatility. It can be used in carpets, textiles, paper substitutes, fuel, medicines, bio-composites and cosmetics. Nearly every country in the EU has a legal hemp industry, and the demand for hemp as an eco-friendly fibre is climbing as it fits perfectly into renewability and sustainability requirements. It is not surprising, then, that the construction industry should embrace it as a "better than zero" low-carbon building system. The necessary engineering standards have been set in a number of countries, and an average of 1500 hemp houses are built each year in France. Hemp houses are also built in Germany, Ireland, Spain, Japan, the US and Canada.
Hemp is a high job multiplier, providing up to four times as many jobs as provided by wheat and other grain crops. It provides fibre, stalk and seeds - all of which need primary processing, and it can support many downstream industries. Its "triple impact" is social, environmental and economic.
Cape Town's hemp house was completed in 2011 using hempcrete, hemp insulation, hemp chipboard, hemp carpets, hemp curtains, hemp couches and other hemp furnishings. The house has been featured by Top Billing, The Argus, Home/Tuis, Country Living, Simply Green, Earthworks, Expresso, The Greenline, 50/50 and other media. It has been visited by CSIR, DTI, DST, DAFF, NCPC and EDD. It was selected as a finalist for the National Cleantech Competition for COP17 for hemp building.