How the Cannabis Plant is Shaping the Future of Construction

Imagine waking up to a breathtaking view of Table Mountain, all while staying in a cozy and eco-friendly room. That’s what awaits you at the soon-to-be-completed Hemp Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

This 12-story beauty is the world’s tallest building made from industrial hemp, and with 54 inviting rooms, it’s a testament to innovative and sustainable construction.

The secret ingredient behind this remarkable building is Hempcrete, a fantastic material created from the cannabis plant.

Combined with a sturdy concrete and cement framework, the Hempcrete blocks provide superb insulation, fire resistance, and a reduced environmental impact. No wonder these blocks are becoming increasingly popular in the building industry!

Not only are Hempcrete blocks eco-friendly, but they’re also carbon negative. In Europe, they’re commonly used to thermally renovate existing structures, locking away carbon for 50 years or even longer.

As Boshoff Muller, director of Afrimat Hemp, explains,

“the plant absorbs the carbon, it gets put into a block and is then stored into a building for 50 years or longer.”

Afrimat Hemp, a subsidiary of South African construction group Afrimat, proudly produced the bricks for the Hemp Hotel.

Previously, South Africa had banned local production, requiring the Hemp Hotel’s industrial hemp to be imported from the UK.

Thankfully, the government is now issuing cultivation permits for hemp and cannabis, with President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledging the sector’s potential for job creation—over 130,000 jobs, to be precise.

With South African hemp now available, Afrimat Hemp is gearing up for its first production run of locally sourced blocks. Hemp Hotel architect Wolf Wolf, 52, sees this as a game changer, with the potential to increase the use of hempcrete blocks in construction projects.

Slightly more expensive than concrete

There is a slight downside: Hempcrete blocks are about 20% more expensive than traditional materials, according to Afrimat Hemp’s carbon consultant Wihan Bekker.

Compared to conventional building materials, a 40 square meter house built with hemp has a carbon footprint that’s three tons of CO2 lower. Boshoff Muller describes the Hemp Hotel as a “lighthouse project,” emphasizing that “it shows hemp has its place in the construction sector.“

The Hemp Hotel has already made a name for itself, with the International Hemp Building Association’s director, Steve Allin, declaring it the “tallest building to incorporate hemp-based materials in the world.”

So, next time you’re in Cape Town, why not experience the warmth and friendliness of this one-of-a-kind hotel and embrace a greener way of living?

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