Building with Hempcrete In Canada
Hemp is a highly versatile plant which has been used since the 1600’s for a variety of industrial applications. Found in textiles, ropes, cordage, twines, cosmetic or even food industry, the hemp plant is everywhere around us. One such revolutionary material which is gaining popularity is hempcrete.
Hempcrete is a mixture of hemp hurds and lime and is being used worldwide to build residential and commercial buildings due to its many incredible benefits (including benefits for our ecosystem). If you are planning to build a hemp house or building and you reside in Canada, we suggest you read on about its legality and growth prospects in the country.
Is Hempcrete Legal In Canada
As part of the cannabis family, hemp has always been under question regarding its legality given its often misunderstood differences between its cousin, marijuana. After the passing of Cannabis Act in 2018, cannabis became legal in Canada for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In fact, Canada became the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to formally legalize the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis and its by-products. Those by products include hemp.
Potential Uses Of Industrial Hemp
The hemp plant has a variety of uses. It is often said that hemp can be used for anywhere between 25,000 – 50,000 applications when you consider what materials can be replaced with hemp (i.e. plastics).
The bast fibers from the stalk can be used to make textiles, ropes and papers. But within those stalks are the fibrous hemp hurds, which can be used in construction materials like hempcrete. The grains of industrial hemp can also be used in cosmetics, food products, plastic and fuel.
Cultivating industrial hemp has been permitted in Canada since 1998 and is currently regulated by Health Canada under the Cannabis Act. The cultivation of hemp is licensed under the Industrial Hemp Regulations.
This regulation has made it legal to buy hempcrete in Canada, which has become a new market for hemp farmers to sell their raw materials. If you are wishing to cultivate industrial hemp, you are required to obtain a license from Health Canada. And if you are planning to build a house in Canada using hempcrete for sustainable and eco-friendly living, you can easily do so without any restrictions.
The Ontario Cannabis Act
In confirmation of the new regulation passed under the Cannabis Act, 2017, the activities related to the cultivation and growth of Industrial Hemp will now not be regulated according to the Ontario Cannabis Act. This means the laws which have been passed for the cultivation of industrial hemp in Canada will work for Ontario as well.
According to Ontario cannabis laws, “Ontario’s new rules will keep the people of Ontario safe now that recreational cannabis has been made legal by the federal government.”
The First-Ever Structural Hempcrete Block In Canada
The legalization of growing industrial hemp is beginning to make its mark within the construction industry. In 2015, a Canadian startup by the name of Just BioFiber Structural Solutions came out with the first structural hempcrete block in the world. The company believes in making the environment sustainable and enhancing the quality of life for all living beings.
The interlocking blocks resemble Legos, said CEO Terry Radford, a former IT executive turned hemp entrepreneur. “Our first project is what the owner calls Harmless Home, built on Vancouver Island,” The Just BioFiber block built with hempcrete offers significant benefits to builders, architects, engineers and most importantly building and homeowners. Source
Just BioFiber was also featured on Global News Canada for building what has become known as “The Harmless Home” in Sooke, just outside of Victoria.
All in all, there is real progress being made toward eco-friendly construction in Canada. The growth is likely to bring more awareness and demand of hempcrete homes in Canada. And the increase in cultivation could also lead to a a surge in hempcrete construction companies and jobs in Canada.
Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance
The CHTA is a national organization that aims at promoting Canadian hemp and its products globally. This organization was established in 2003 and represents those involved in the Canadian hemp industry. The main function of CHTA is to disseminate information, promote the use of nutritional and industrial hemp and coordinate hemp research as well. Members in this alliance include farmers, processors, manufacturers, researchers, entrepreneurs and marketers.
Growing Interest In Hemp Fiber
Beyond the housing market, the interest and demand of hemp fibers has already been on the rise in Canada for other applications. The markets of interest include composites, non-wovens, construction materials, animal bedding, pulp and paper products.
Each hemp plant is made up of approximately 30% bast fiber, 60% hemp hurd and 10% chaff all of which can be used for different purposes.
The inner wood-like core fibers can be used for low end uses such as animal bedding and making hempcrete and the outer bast fiber can be used for more demanding and technical markets.
The cost of hemp fiber in Canada can range between 50$ to 500$ per ton, depending on quality.
The Future Of Hempcrete In Canada
Hempcrete in Canada is still in a growing stage, but its potential is there. Companies and alliances like Just BioFibre and CHTA are educating more and more people toward the need and benefits of hemp in making this world a sustainable place for everyone and everything. With their efforts, we will see a significant increase of hemp houses and buildings in Canada sooner than later.