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Industrial hemp being used to build home in Bellingham

By Brain Flores | Q13 Fox

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- If you’re thinking of remodeling your home, using hemp likely didn’t come to mind. However, a company remodeling a home in Bellingham is hoping to change minds, by using what's called "hempcrete."

The use of industrial hemp actually dates back to Roman times, when builders would use the strain of Cannabis sativa, a flowering plant, to build. This particular strain of hemp requires it to be grown outdoors and is longer than a different version that is used for pot.

A handful of companies, like Hempitecture, are giving hemp a resurgence as a building tool.

“What we’re trying to do is look at how hempcrete can be applied into more custom homes, more larger-scale homes,” said Matthew Mead, founder of Hempitecture.

Idaho-based Hempitecture has used hempcrete for projects in that state, but now they’re working on an addition/renovation off Highland Drive in Bellingham. They’ve called it the Highland Hemp House. According to Mead, there are several reasons why hemp makes a sustainable and strong building substance.

“It’s derived from three things. It’s derived from the wooden core of the industrial hemp plant, a lime-based binder as well as water,” he said.

According to Mead, industrial hemp is commonly used for making rope, clothing or for nutritional supplements. For construction purposes, its wooden core is broken down and shipped in bales.

“We can combine a half bale of this hemp herd into the mixer with our lime base slurry,” said Mead.

Once it's mixed, the workers pour it and then tamper it down in between a wooden frame. And then, a couple of hours later, you have the finished product, hempcrete.

“You get a highly insulating, energy-efficient wall system that's also non-toxic,” said Mead. “Hempcrete is a green building strategy that’s healthy, breathable. It’s fire resistant."

Only a handful of buildings across the country were buil