ly sequestered as part of a house. Using hemp can make it so that the materials of a house are effectively carbon negative. Building a house also has implica - tions for carbon emissions. The two best ways to reduce those emissions may be to cut the time necessary to build a house and to cut the material waste that is created when build- ing. Both of these factors can be addressed by advanced construction techniques. Modular and panel- ized construction can substantial- ly reduce the time necessary and some of the waste. But 3D printing of homes and components essen- tially eliminates waste and drasti- cally cuts the time (from months to days) even beyond that of modular construction. Since 3D printing uses some form of concrete or hempcrete it also can make walls and roofs that are better insulated than traditional construc- tion. Using concrete that is of higher strength (10,000 PSI) allows a build - er to forego rebar. (If rebar is still necessary, using a basalt version instead of iron can prevent severe damage from moisture.) 3D printed houses are fire resistant, moisture resistant, and can be made to with- stand both 8.0 Richter scale earth- quakes and 250 mph winds from severe weather events. These fea- tures ensure longevity for the home by preventing the most common reasons a house is destroyed. The substantially higher insula- tion values also reduce the carbon footprint while someone lives there. Better insulated houses reduce the energy requirements for heating and cooling, the main impact of a home on the environment during its useful life. When this is combined with energy efficient appliances, intel - ligent design, and automation that manages the use of HVAC systems

more effectively, the lifetime of the home can also be net zero. We can, in addition, use solar power cells, the new power walls, or solar roof shingles to further reduce the reliance on non-renew- able resources. But it is important to understand the carbon footprint of creating those capabilities to ensure that the reduced energy cost is not overbalanced by the energy used in creating the solar cells. For example, the mining of rare earths – neces- sary for the creation of solar cells – is an environmental horror. And they are not renewable resources (hint: they are called “rare” earths). We have to understand the true carbon footprint of solar over its lifetime to know whether it helps us get to net zero or not. Overall, we can expect that while living in the home there will be some amount of carbon emission – since we don’t have a good opportunity to sequester carbon during this stage of the home’s lifecycle. The key to net zero, then, is to be carbon nega- tive enough in the creation of build- ing materials and in the building of the house that the low emissions during occupancy bring us up to zero over a relatively long period of time. Is net zero possible? With the use of hemp and 3D printing along with modular and panelized construction, it just might be. •

There are alternatives for building

materials that are available today and are much better for the environment.”


available today and are much better for the environment. One of the keys is to find ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere, not just reduce emissions into the atmosphere. A promising building material is the hemp plant. Hemp can be used in insulation, building panels, hemp- crete, and even hemp-based bio- plastics. Hemp sequesters carbon from the atmosphere better than just about any other plant. And if carbon friendly agricultural practices are used such as no-till farming, and no pesticides or herbicides, hemp prod- ucts may actually be carbon nega- tive (less than net zero) even when including the emissions created during processing. Hemp can replace less sustainable building materials like lumber, steel, asphalt, and fiberglass. And when hemp becomes part of a house, the carbon it sequestered when it was growing in the field is permanent -

Steve Streetman is a real estate consultant specializing in deal structuring and the use of cryptocurrency. Look for his book, “Cryptocurrency and Real Estate: how to profit as Bitcoin and Blockchain transform real estate investing” available now on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats. You can also find out more at To find out more about hemp and 3D printing in construction you can also see (please call for the website).

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