Growing interest in hemp and straw construction prompts new guidance

Hot on the heels of two recent reports on natural crop-based building materials by the BRE Trust (Building with confidence using renewable materials) and the NHBC Foundation (Cellulose-based building materials: use, performance and risk), BRE is pulling together leading figures from the sector to develop the next generation of specification guidance for those want to design and build with renewable materials like hemp and straw.

Crop-based materials have been used historically in the construction of houses and farm buildings in the UK – typically for cob walls and cellulose-based materials such as straw and reed for thatching roofs. But for a long time, the use of these traditional materials has been in decline. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the use of traditional cellulose-based materials including hemp, reed and straw, for walling and roofing new homes due to their renewable, low embodied energy and insulation qualities.

Dr Tim Yates, BRE who co-authored the most recent NHBC Foundation report said:

‘Since this report has been written a lot of new research has come to light which continues to improve our understanding of the performance of these materials their related construction methods. It’s important that we capture this and use it to develop the next level of best practice specifications guidance required by the industry so it can fully exploit the benefits these materials can bring’.

BRE will be holding an event in April to gather new information on the latest developments in the sector and to create a framework of contents for the guidance which will be published later this year. To get involved please contact Tim Yates yatest(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)bre.co.uk.