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Building houses with hemp: the environmental alternative growing in Portugal

At the time of the discoveries, Portugal was one of the largest Western producers and exporters of hemp. The plant was used for ship sails and ropes.

Today, hemp is beginning to take its first steps in the construction sector. The first building that appears for the first time is the domestic residence Heaven 331located in Porto.

The sustainability of the material and the fact that it is ecological [são alguns dos motivos que que fazem do cânhamo uma nova escolha de material na construção de casas]. We also heard about its soundproofing qualities and that it was very good both thermally and acoustically,” João Santos, Director of Lovely Memories, told SIC.

Despite belonging to the same family, the cannabis plant is a distant cousin of cannabis, meaning it has no medicinal purposes.

“Industrial hemp, let’s call it, is used in clothing, civil construction, oils, for food. It’s different from pharmaceutical hemp, there is no drug associated with industrial hemp,” explained, in an interview with SIC, architect Francisco Fonseca.

What distinguishes hemp block from traditional concrete?

“It offers an alternative to non-structural materials, namely the insulating materials, ceramic bricks, cement blocks that we find in construction. Hemp is actually hemp concrete, hemp block which is the only material in civil construction that complies with thermal, acoustic and thermal regulations in a single material with a length of 25 cm or 23 cm from the wall, ”added the architect.

Francisco Fonseca described: “We are talking about a plant that revitalizes, restructures abandoned soils, poor soils and, therefore, possesses large amounts of carbon.”

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but, Investment up to 25% higher than traditional construction. This is because, at the moment, there is not enough production in Portugal. But a couple of years ago, a company based in Alentejo decided to revive the market, based on the idea of ​​this Building a house with walls from nature.

“This year we will have 100 and a few hectares of national cannabis farms. It will be an experiment for us to try to understand profitability and how best to do it so that they can cooperate with us in the future,” said COO chopsticks.

It is possible to remove the fibers, flax, and wood from the hemp plant, which is the material of interest for building homes.

The first process takes place in a machine that crushes the plant. Then it goes to the blender, where the wood is mixed with lime and clay. A dough that takes 10 minutes to prepare, which will then yield three blocks of cannabis.

“It is the only plant fiber that has a completely surprising behavior with water, and does not lose mechanical properties in contact with water,” explained architect Francisco Fonseca.

Worldwide, the construction industry is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.