Afrimat Pioneers Hemp Building, Showcase is Cape Town’s Soon-to-Be Opened Hemp Hotel
With 12 storeys, a breathtaking view of Cape Town's imposing Table Mountain and a minimal ecological footprint, the world's tallest building made with industrial hemp is soon to open its doors in South Africa.
5 May 2023 at 07:00:00
News 24 reports that workers in central Cape Town are putting the finishing touches on the 54-room Hemp Hotel, which is due to be completed in June.
"Hempcrete" blocks derived from the cannabis plant have been used to fill the building's walls, supported by a concrete and cement structure.
Hemp bricks are becoming increasingly popular in the construction world thanks to their insulating, fire-resistant and climate-friendly properties.
Used notably in Europe for thermal renovation of existing buildings, the blocks are carbon negative - meaning their production sucks more planet-warming gases out of the atmosphere than it puts in.
READ | Cape Town now officially has the highest building in the world made with hemp
"The plant absorbs the carbon, it gets put into a block and is then stored into a building for 50 years or longer," explains Boshoff Muller, director of Afrimat Hemp, a subsidiary of South African construction group Afrimat, which produced the bricks for the hotel.
"What you see here is a whole bag full of carbon, quite literally," Muller says as he pats a bag of mulch at a brick factory on the outskirts of Cape Town, where hemp hurds, water and lime are mixed together to make the blocks.
The industrial hemp used for the Hemp Hotel had to be imported from Britain as South Africa banned local production up to last year, when the government started issuing cultivation permits.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has made developing the country's hemp and cannabis sector an economic priority, saying it could create more than 130 000 jobs.
Afrimat Hemp is now preparing to produce its first blocks made only with South African hemp.
Hemp Hotel architect Wolf Wolf, 52, sees this as a game changer to make hemp buildings more widespread in this corner of the world.
"It shouldn't be just a high-end product," says Wolf, whose firm is involved in several social housing projects in South Africa and neighbouring Mozambique.
READ | Hempcrete: Afrimat looks to rapidly grow its new hemp business with local suppliers
Yet cost remains an issue.
"Hemp is 20% more expensive to build with" compared to conventional materials, says Afrimat Hemp's carbon consultant Wihan Bekker.
But as the world races to lower carbon emissions, the firm sees "huge opportunities" for its green bricks, says Bekker.
Carbon credits - permits normally related to the planting of trees to safeguard tropical rainforests that companies buy to offset their emissions - could help make hempcrete blocks more financially palatable, he says.
"We can fund forests, or we can fund someone to live in a hemp house. It's the same principle," Bekker says.
Justice Dept Admits No Rational Evidence Behind Plant Limits in Cannabis Bill as State Lawyers Come Under Fire in Parliament
The Justice Department took flak in Parliament this week during stakeholder input into the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill where it became evident that state law-makers are clueless as to what Government's intended vision for cannabis is. They remain conceptually and technically completely out of their depth - and lazy to boot as they have not bothered to bring any rational evidence to back up what is truly a pathetic legislative interpretation of the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling legalizing the private consumption of cannabis.
SA to Lift Hemp THC Limit to 2% But Cultivar Restrictions Remain a “Lethal Impediment” to the Industry
Government has made no official announcement about the "significant spike" in raising acceptable THC levels in hemp. It signalled its intentions in a clause in the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill which will be welcomed by stakeholders. However, cultivar restriction could self-sabotage all the good intentions.
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