Building With Hempcrete in the United States
In 2019, the United States saw a massive surge of hemp grown compared to 2018 with a 4X increase in licensed acreage. Although not all of the 511,442 acres were harvested, the data suggests that the United States is primed to make its mark on the hemp industry.
However, most of the hemp grown in the US was for CBD purposes, not for industrial use (i.e. hempcrete). That’s not to say that it was non-existent, but it’s pretty clear that the country’s focus in 2019 was to jump on the craze of CBD with consumer demand through the roof.
Is Hempcrete Legal in the US?
Yes, growing hemp to build hempcrete is legal. You can also legally purchase the materials for commercial buildings and residential housing. The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for the United States to legally grow the crop, which is no longer classified as a controlled substance. But with growing laws varying at the state level, some states are still not permitting farmers to grow the crop. This is because these states did not submit a plan in time to USDA to approve. These states will have to wait until the USDA puts federal rules in place for the 2020 season.
If you are looking to grow industrial hemp in the United States for the purpose of hempcrete, please reach out to your state’s agricultural department for clarification on laws and rules. Alternatively, VoteHemp provides a great resource that shows state by state laws.
Analyzing the Hempcrete Market in the US
The hempcrete market in the United States is lagging behind Canada and Europe, who have been working with the plant for building purposes for decades. However, that is not to say the US market won’t catch up. More and more conferences specific to hempcrete are sprouting up all over the country for people to get more involved. Online searches continue to rapidly increase as potential home owners seek to learn about the plant’s benefits as a building material. Lastly, more companies are coming online to be completely dedicated toward green and sustainable construction, and hempcrete is their new darling material.
Hempcrete Limitations in the US
Perhaps the largest limitation for hempcrete production within the United States lies within the lack of certification of hemp as a building material. Associations are forming to submit the hemp-based building materials to the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the council in charge of granting LEED certification for sustainable buildings. The ATSM and ICC are the other organizations that will be involved to certify hempcrete and incorporate it into building codes. Without such certification, obtaining home insurance and building permits remains a challenge.
The second largest limitation is the processing of the plant. With hemp production quadrupling in 2019 compared to 2018, many US farmers realized that there weren’t enough facilities up and running to take their raw materials.
Beyond that, almost all hemp processors in the United States are equipped for CBD hemp purposes. Hemp grown for CBD is short and bushy, whereas industrial hemp for fibers and stalks are tall and reed-like. Because of their difference in size, and the difference in mechanics to process the plant, there are not many hemp hurds being produced locally in the country. All of that will change in 2020 and beyond, as more farmers and processors look to focus on the industrial hemp market instead of just CBD.
The last limitation is the ongoing battles with US-based marijuana farmers. They are very sensitive toward the impact that drifting males industrial hemp seeds can have on the success of their crop. These male seeds can have a huge impact on the THC production, and could cost large-scale marijuana farmers millions. Anyone growing industrial hemp near these farms can likely assume some pushback from neighboring marijuana farms.
The Future of Hempcrete in the United States
As the stats and data have indicated, the USA has embraced hemp production head on and jumped right into the deep end to reap benefits as early adopters. However, with the limitations discussed and the head start that UK and Canada have, it is hard to see the United States as a major player as a hempcrete provider in the next 2-3 years.
With that said, more and more farmers and processors in the USA will shift to focus on industrial hemp instead of CBD hemp, and you can expect more hempcrete options to come online in the US. Hempcrete Direct will continue to uncover those hempcrete suppliers, vet their professionalism, and invite them into the network so that consumers have access to the highest quality hempcrete materials in the United States.