Bushfire A Test Of Hemp Building Blocks

A bushfire has impacted an alternative building materials manufacturer in Western Australia producing hemp blocks – but there has been a positive side.

A couple of weeks ago we reported Western Australian company Hemp Squared was awarded a $100,000 grant from the WA Government to expand its hemp block manufacturing facilities in Bridgetown, which is approximately 270 kilometres south of Perth.

The blocks Hemp Squared produces are made with hempcrete, a mix of the woody core of hemp (known as hurd), lime and water. Far from being a new building material, hempcrete has been used in various ways for thousands of years. Among its attributes is longevity – for example, a form of hempcrete has preserved caves in India for 1,500 years.

Another attribute is fire resistance, a feature that was put to a real-world test very recently.

When a bushfire hit the Bridgewater area, Hemp Squared’s manufacturing facilities were unscathed – but the company lost more than 90% of its stock. However, what was left is where the silver lining of this unfortunate event lies.

The stock destroyed were blocks still curing outside the facility in shipping containers, which were between 2 and 4 weeks into the curing process. Blocks that were produced in the beginning of December had fully cured and survived the fire.

The photo above shows some of the damaged uncured blocks, with the cured blocks in the background.

Hemp Squared co-founder Iggy Van appears to be a half-glass-full sort of fellow.

“We believe this is a great positive,” said Mr. Van. “They are bushfire proof when cured for 8 weeks!”

While quite a setback for the company, the event hasn’t taken the edge off Mr. Van’s enthusiasm.

“We are continuing with the same passion and drive to make Hemp Squared a start up success story in the industrial hemp and building materials industries,” he said.

And no doubt that recently received $100,000 grant from the State Government is even more valuable to the business now.

Building blocks aren’t the only application for hemp in construction. Learn more about building with hemp.

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