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Raising the Hemp Bar

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. 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. 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. The carbon footprint of a 40 square metrehouse built with hemp is three tons of CO2 lower than that of a conventional building, according to Afrimat Hemp.