This article originally appeared in HempBuild Magazine.
Hemp building materials will be featured on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as part of the annual Innovative Housing Showcase sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and HUD in June. The annual event June 9-11 presents cutting-edge building innovations to the public in an outdoor showcase.
The Innovative Housing Showcase is a three-day event open to the public featuring “new building technologies and housing solutions that are making housing more innovative, resilient, and affordable for American families,” according to HUD.
Hemp building materials will be showcased as part of the Department of Energy’s emphasis on plant-based decarbonizing building materials. Hemp building material companies participating in DOE incubators were invited to attend, including the US Hemp Building Association. The trade association’s booth will feature dozens of hemp building materials including hemp-lime insulation (“Hempcrete”), hemp blocks, HempWood flooring, HempWool batt insulation, hemp rebar and Geopolymer hemp stucco and quickcrete.
The showcase will include exhibitor demonstrations, entrepreneurs and leaders in the housing industry. Dozens of exhibits will include full-sized prototype homes, displaying innovative building technologies that address affordability, resilience and the future of housing, the agency said.
Hemp building material companies believe this opportunity will push hemp into the spotlight with a national focus, stakeholders say.
Using hemp for building materials, employing technology well-developed for 30 years in Europe, is a quick win for building material uses for the plant, said Ray Kaderli, USHBA president.
“Hemp building materials displayed on the National Mall will turbocharge education and answer questions on this remarkable building solution,” Kaderli said. “This showcase will move the industry forward.”
The fast-growing industrial hemp plant, legalized in the United States under the 2018 Farm Bill, is a superstar of carbon sequestration. Building materials made with all-natural hemp are non-toxic, fire-resistant, insulating, mold resistant and long lasting. Hemp used in construction can slash the construction industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the “embodied carbon” in walls, ceilings, flooring and insulation.
Several state governments, including California, New York and New Jersey, have passed laws requiring embodied carbon to be reduced in new construction. The Biden Harris Administration’s New Buy Clean Initiative and the Inflation Reduction Act both encourage the use of low-emitting construction materials. HUD recently announced a $4 billion plan to retrofit affordable housing with low-carbon, energy-saving solutions. Hemp is a nature-based solution that can replace building materials made with toxic chemicals using fossil fuels.
By lucky coincidence, the role of industrial hemp as a U.S. row crop is being discussed in Congress leading up to the 2023 Farm Bill.
USHBA President Kaderli announced a partnership with Mandi Kerr of Utah-based Global Hemp Association to make key relationships with congressional staffers during the showcase.
“This partnership provides advocacy for the total supply chain of industrial hemp from the seed to the walls of a building,” Kaderli said. “Global Hemp Association has provided advocacy and leadership for the genetics and farming of industrial hemp to build our agricultural supplies. US Hemp Building Association provides advocacy for the raw materials made into building materials. The whole supply chain is represented.”
The mention of companies and other enterprises in news stories and Q&As does not imply an endorsement by Let’s Talk Hemp or any business relationship.