Hempitecture, a new type of building materials manufacturer, has opened the first nonwoven bio-based manufacturing facility in the U.S. The 33,000-square-foot factory is located in Jerome, Idaho, about 116 miles southeast of Boise.
The company says it crowdfunded the project with more than 1,800 investors and grants. It also collaborated with the University of Idaho on its research and development.
Hempitecture uses biobased, carbon-capturing inputs to create what it says is healthier and higher-performing home and building insulation products, including its flagship product, HempWool thermal insulation.
“We are thrilled to celebrate this monumental milestone that symbolizes the immense amount of work put into the brand’s facility from concept to completion,” Mattie Mead, Hempitecture founder and CEO, said in a press release.
“This truly marks the beginning of a new chapter for the industrial hemp industry,” Mead added, “not just in Idaho, but in the United States as a whole, given the greatly enhanced accessibility to sustainable material alternatives.”
According to Mead, most insulation materials are made with abrasive or toxic inputs.
“Oftentimes they use finding agents that are negative to human health, such as formaldehyde, or they can contain POCs,” he told The Cool Down.
The Environmental Working Group warns against using polyurethane spray foam insulation, rigid foam with flame retardants, or insulation that contains asbestos or formaldehyde.
“All of these materials contain chemicals that are health hazards,” the group says.
Unlike those conventional materials, Hempitecture‘s insulation is a natural fiber-derived product, which, as Mead told The Cool Down, “means we use primarily plant-based fibers to make a nontoxic insulation material that is performing similarly to conventionally available materials.”
While Hempitecture’s products currently cost about 20% more than standard insulation, the company is working to scale up and achieve price parity with the leading home insulation companies as it grows. And it expects to double the output at its new factory in the near future.
“[We] are seeking to make the cost more competitive with our competitors to make sustainable insulation in reach to all customers,” Mead said.
Hempitecture’s insulation joins a growing roster of products made from hemp materials. One interior designer recently used hemp insulation, showing it off on Instagram. Hemp is also being used to make car batteries, while another company has turned it into dog toys.
Mead also says it’s important to point out that Hempitecture’s products aren’t just made in the U.S. — they’re also grown here. That supports local farmers and the American economy.
“This will help usher in economic opportunity in rural areas,” he said. “It’s time to look toward the future where bio-based products alleviate hardship and usher in opportunities for local farmers.”
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