Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 15:19 UK

Hemp plan to build green houses

Hemp, a member of the cannabis family, could be used to build carbon-neutral houses, say researchers.

A team based at the University of Bath is looking at the cost and insulation efficiencies of using the plant in construction materials in the UK.

The hemp plant stores carbon, giving a "better than zero" carbon footprint.

A spokesman involved in the project said: "It only takes an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp for a three bedroom house."

'Social benefit'

The building material uses hemp fibres that are bound together using a lime-based adhesive, which itself has a low carbon footprint.

Professor Pete Walker, who is working on the project, said: "Growing crops such as hemp can also provide economic and social benefits to rural economies through new agricultural markets for farmers and associated industries."

A carbon footprint measures the impact on the environment and is related to the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Scientists believe that large amounts of greenhouse gases are leading to climate change.

The three year project will cost £750,000.



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