Experimental homes made out of hemp are to be built under new government plans.
A prototype three-bedroom house, funded by the taxpayer, will go on show today. The home is part of a government drive to build more housing with a smaller carbon footprint.
The “renewable house” features walls made from Hemcrete – a mix of hamp and lime – and was built thanks to a £200,000 grant from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), which built the home, said building it used half the energy that building a traditional brick home would use.
It claims energy bills for the home owners would be as low as £150 a year, and predicts building on thousands of houses could begin soon.
Dr John Williams, head of materials at the NNFCC, told The Guardian: “The forecasts are that we could roll this out very quickly if someone places an order for 25,000 homes.
“Increasing numbers of farmers are growing hemp because it fits in with their current growing cycles between April and September and it is a good break crop for wheat.
“If just 1 per cent of the UK’s agricultural land was used to grow hemp, it would be enough to build 180,000 homes per year.”
The hemp house provides a cheaper alternative to traditional brick and mortar housing, with a build cost of £75,000 excluding groundworks.
The hemp absorbs carbon dioxide when it is growing and the NNFCC estimates that 110kg (242.5lb) of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere, the equivalent of a return flight from Plymouth to Manchester, for every square metre of wall.
By Ben Leach