Wall Street Analyst Wants to Build Homes Out of Weed

James Savage, a Wall Street analyst, was disturbed when he saw the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The feeling continued when after the water subsided, the homes that survived were uninhabitable because they had been overtaken with mold. “There has to be something better we can do than this,” he recalls thinking. The solution he discovered was hempcrete, a mold-resistant cement-like building material made from cannabis.

Inspired by his discovery of the ancient building material, Savage started a company, Green Built, to create structures with materials made from cannabis. Hempcrete is made using the interior of the cannabis plant combined with water and lime. Although it’s not quite as stable as concrete and requires thicker insulation than standard building materials, it’s airtight, flexible, free from toxins, and pest-resistant. Green Built looks to make hempcrete easier to use and more marketable by selling it in panel systems similar to drywall.

Throughout the centuries, cannabis was used to create ropes, paper products, and sails and its use is traceable all the way back to ancient Gaul. Modern use of hempcrete dates back to the 1980s in France where there’s a seven-story office tower made of the substance. It’s also found favor elsewhere in Europe where cultivating cannabis was never criminalized.

Right now in the U.S., federal regulations discourage anyone from building with hempcrete because in most parts of the country, growing cannabis remains illegal. More recently, public opinion has started to lean in hempcrete’s favor. “Some people thought hemp might help get marijuana accepted, but it’s going the other way around,” said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association. Recently, in the last Farm Bill, laws were relaxed to allow for hemp-growing pilot programs. Currently, most builders have to import the product from Canada which is a $600-million-a-year business.

Learn more at Green Built.

(H / T The New York Times)

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