This combination promises not only environmental benefits but also practical, sustainable solutions for construction. As building materials, both Lime-Stabilized Compressed Earth and Hempcrete provide fire resistance, mold resistance, breathability, non-toxicity, sound insulation, recyclability and energy efficiency through thermal mass and the moisture-regulating properties of both clay and lime.
Structural Earth: Lime-Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks provide strength as structural masonry units and gain durability over time as the lime cures. Structural masonry has thermal mass that stores heat and provides inertia against temperature fluctuations, significantly increasing comfort and reducing energy use. Since there’s no need for process heat in production, as there is for fired bricks, the material is inherently low-carbon and can be made carbon neutral quite easily by employing carbon neutral power to the compression machines.
Insulative Hemp: Hempcrete is lightweight and provides effective thermal insulation, with an R-value averaging around R-2. Hemp, as a plant, absorbs carbon dioxide during its growth, and the carbon is retained in the material when used in construction. Hempcrete is also biodegradable and can be recycled or reused at the end of a building’s life cycle, therefore, it insulates while keeping its carbon footprint low.
When combined, the application of Hempcrete to the exterior of an Earth Block wall maximizes its thermal performance. I’d also like to highlight that the success of both unfired-earth and hemp-based building materials hinges on getting things right through proper manufacturing, design, construction technique, and maintenance practices that take into account the specific climate conditions of the region.
As momentum for sustainable building practices accelerates, my optimism grows for the widespread recognition and adoption of both Compressed Earth Block and Hempcrete. These eco-friendly construction materials have the potential to captivate a broader audience and contribute significantly to a greener, more sustainable future.
~ Elizabeth Hurtado, Owner and Designer, Hurtado Homes LLC