A Queensland building company has secured a distribution deal that will see them selling hempcrete in the United States construction market.
Hempcrete is a building block made with water, lime and 84% hemp fibre – making them pest resistant, energy-efficient and able to withstand temperatures of up to 300°C without catching fire. HempBlock, formerly GeoSIP, is one of Australasia’s first hempcrete producers.
HempBlock manufacturers hempcrete building blocks in Australia and New Zealand – through French hempcrete company Vieille Matériaux. The company is aiming to sell its HempBlock system in six regions of the US, describing the country’s residential construction market as “”huge”. In 2020, over 416,000 single unit residential permits were issued for new developments across the US.
The HempBlock system is suitable for single-family homes and buildings up to two stories high. It uses post-and-beam frames made from steel and concrete, with hempcrete blocks making up the majority of the wall. Each block weighs about 40 lbs (18 kilograms).
This system is built into walls during construction, but can also be used as insulation for existing structures. HempBlocks have an insulation rating of up to R28.
HempBlock is currently working to get its hempcrete products certified as a construction material in the US. The system is already used in Australia and has been accredited and tested by several International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) organizations.
According to Johan Tijssen, the director of HempBlock operations in the US and Australia, HempBlock may also manufacture hempcrete in the US soon, as the conditions will be right within two years.
It will be commercially viable to manufacture blocks in the USA when market demand and the availability of hemp are at the level required to justify investing in a local production facility,
Globally, the push for hempcrete is driven by a desire for cost-effective, bio-based building material alternatives.
According to Tijssen, the HempBlock system costs $14 per square foot and is more effective than traditional systems, as it requires 3 layers of blocks, rather than 4 or 5. It is also 70% faster than building with traditional materials, taking 10 minutes per square metre.
The IP for the system is owned by French company The Vicat Group. HempBlock has already begun importing hempcrete blocks to the supplier in the US.