Hemp fiber has long been prized for its qualities in textiles, manufacturing, construction, and more. It’s a durable material that has long been used for these applications. In addition to being inexpensive and durable, it is now being revisited for its ability to address modern challenges.

Hemp has been used for at least a few thousand years. However, the modern era saw a decline in its use and hemp-related innovation overall. A 20th-century ban on its use interrupted both its use and isolated hemp from new and innovative applications.

Now, 21st-century legalization has triggered a huge comeback for hemp. Its inherent qualities have not changed. However, those qualities are being revisited by young companies that are finding new ways to use hemp to solve the most pressing modern challenges. “Hempcrete”, a potential replacement for concrete, is revolutionizing the construction industry.

Let’s look at how Hempcrete is the result of an ancient plant being used to solve the unique challenges of the modern construction industry.

Old Material, New Benefits

Hemp’s durability and economics are increasingly well-understood. But its environmental and construction process benefits are the new target of hemp-based innovations.

Carbon Emissions

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions represent one of the main challenges of the modern construction industry. The manufacturing of construction materials and construction processes are one of the biggest drivers of CO2 emissions. Building construction alone covers almost 40% of global energy-related emissions. Homes alone account for almost half of that figure.

Hemp addresses this in two ways.

First, the growth of hemp itself is great for offsetting CO2 emissions in construction. Hemp plants trap CO2 while being cultivated. The exact figures range between 8 and 15 metric tons of CO2 per hectare. Even in the lowest cases with the least efficient carbon-trapping hemp crops, that is an excellent figure. By comparison, forests are known to capture up to 6 metric tons of CO2 per hectare.

The second benefit comes from the fact that “hempcrete” bricks replace concrete bricks. Concrete production gives the opposite result of hemp production, producing vast amounts of CO2. So, by trapping carbon while being grown and then replacing a polluting manufacturing process, hemp is an obvious solution to the emissions challenge.

Fire Safety & Insulation

Once you have a hemp brick, the benefits don’t stop.

Another benefit of hemp in construction is fire resistance. Heat tests on hemp walls revealed compliance with global fire standards. Fire tests of 1000 degrees 60mm below the surface of hemp did not increase temperatures to above 100 degrees. Furthermore, no damage was observed to the wood on the opposite side of the wall.

This means two things: hemp doesn’t falter easily under heat, and it insulates heat very well. For a cheap, environmentally friendly, plant-based material, the benefits are enormous. So, while it doesn’t beat concrete in this category, these new findings are more than worth considering in a broader context.


Trapping CO2 is the most significant environmental benefit in the context of the modern construction industry. But Hempcrete is better for individual health and the health of the planet.

Hemp-based material is biodegradable. That means that after its useful life is over, it can be composted or recycled naturally. Among construction materials, it is uniquely environmentally friendly and low-impact. A shift to hempcrete means less waste and less overall impact.

For individuals, exposure to hemp is very benign. Hemp-based materials are non-toxic. Manufacturing and construction processes do not emit harmful chemicals and gases. This improves the environment and the health of the people living and working in hempcrete-constructed buildings.

Versatile & Attractive

Hemp is a versatile material that can be used for multiple construction applications. Bricks, insulation, wall panels, and flooring can all be made from hemp. Hemp represents a healthy way to achieve high-quality construction.

Hemp-based materials also have a unique look that makes them attractive when applied thoughtfully. It can greatly approve the appearance of a building. While it’s still not massively popular, there is a novelty factor as well.

Challenges to Hemp in Construction

Hemp offers key benefits that alternatives do not. But there are unique challenges to it becoming a popular choice in the construction industry. If you’re wondering why you don’t see it everywhere yet, consider these challenges that are only now being overcome.


While hemp isn’t the most expensive option, the fact remains that concrete is cheaper to produce. Concrete is also stronger, and thus has more potential applications in construction.

Perhaps even more important than cost alone, concrete is a well-established and well-understood resource. Globally, all construction companies are extremely familiar with it. Convincing decision-makers to use an alternative, especially a costlier one, is easier said than done.

While a hemp brick is easy to produce, you cannot isolate it in a business sense from:

  • The growing period
  • Expensive external inputs

When it comes to the latter, consider the enormous costs of fertilizer. Worse yet, it’s an unpredictably priced commodity that may see significant rises and falls over a long period.

This challenge is a simple one to overcome, though it will likely partially remain. Increased production of hemp (greater supply) is the most obvious cure. But some other factors may reduce costs as time goes on and hemp becomes more accepted:

  • Reduced transportation costs with more widespread production
  • Government economic incentivization
  • Standardization and codification of production processes
  • Access to traditional financing options

Structural Limitations

Being less durable than concrete, hempcrete is not as easily applicable in many scenarios. This means it’s simply not suitable for as many applications.


This short-term challenge may be overcome quite soon. But for now, it’s a challenge for the immediate future of the construction industry.

Hemp is a fast-growing crop that produces positive environmental impacts during the growing process. However, it is not yet widely cultivated throughout much of the world. A simple lack of availability may be the biggest challenge in many places.

This problem may be alleviated as hemp becomes more accepted around the world.

Outsider Challenges

We’ve touched on the familiarity of regular old concrete versus hempcrete. This has a few implications that need to be overcome.

First, hempcrete needs to gain some level of acceptance in an industry that is not entirely familiar with it.

Second, standardization of hemp applications in construction must be achieved. Hemp first needs to be written into building codes around the world. Companies then must understand where it can or cannot be used, or when it’s advantageous or disadvantageous to use it.

The term “economies of scale” refers to cost advantages and incentives gained through larger levels of production. This is a normal challenge for new products entering wider markets. For now, forming economies of scale for the hemp industry is a challenge that is quickly being overcome. Reliable customers, supply chains, and logistics are all a part of the equation.

The Future of Hempcrete

Hempcrete is an obvious, easy win for the more environmentally friendly construction industry of the future. When you look at the challenges to hemp entering global construction supply chains, you can see some clear barriers. But for such a recently (re)discovered path to healthier construction, hempcrete is making amazing progress.

Most growth analysis reveals enormous optimism for this recent revolution in the construction industry. The hemp-based construction market was valued at over $4 billion in 2021. Recent growth and forecasts for the future reveal the obvious. The necessary benefits of hempcrete are well-understood and young companies are quickly making headway into the construction industry.