Hemp insulation manufactured in Canada!

Nature Fibres is a young company based in the town of Asbestos, Quebec, which began manufacturing hemp insulation in the winter of 2018. As the town’s name suggests, it was heavily reliant on the manufacturing of asbestos, but those mining and manufacturing facilities are closing their doors due to the associated health risks. Nature Fibres brings a badly needed economic boost to this old mining region, both in manufacturing hemp based building materials and farming.

Hemp based Insulation Manufacturing facility in Canada © Nature Fibres

As a crop, hemp requires no pesticides or insecticides and consumes very little water. It can also sequester 5 times more CO² than wood during the same growing period. In addition, it can bring value to idle land since it is grown as part of a normal crop rotation.

Thanks to experienced business partners and the support of provincial and municipal governments, Nature Fibres has quickly established itself in the local economy and is the pride of the region. The company has already completed 90 construction and renovation projects with Hemp insulation products, both residential and industrial.

After a year of construction and setting up manufacturing equipment, the company began operations in March 2018. This fall, locally harvested hemp will provide 75% of the raw material required for production. "25% of our hemp still comes from France," says Sébastien Belec, General Manager of Nature Fibres, "but we hope that local production will soon meet all of our needs".

Hemp insulation batts ready for Green Home construction © Nature Fibres

The environmental impact of hemp:

The lifecycle of hemp wool is a very appealing one from an environmental standpoint. Simply compare the manufacturing process; to produce a panel of hemp wool in the thickness needed to obtain a value of R10 requires 3.4 kWh of energy, while it takes 5.5 kWh to produce that value in cellulose, 15.6 kWh for mineral wool and 48.4 kWh for polyurethane*. 
*Calculations by Denis Boyer, energy-efficiency coordinator for Ecohome.

For those wishing to reduce their impact during construction and renovations, it’s worthwhile to consider the embodied energy of products and remember that polyurethane requires an input of 14 times more energy to achieve the same thermal performance as hemp. And at the end of life, hemp insulation is reusable and/or recyclable, which is not the case for polyurethane. 

Hemp wool has many other benefits when used as an insulation choice. It is non-toxic, it reduces sound transmission and it is very resistant to pests. Hemp is also vapour-permeable - meaning that moisture moves right through it. This allows hemp to help regulate the flow of vapour that results from differences in indoor and outdoor temperatures, which helps regulate the indoor climate and relative humidity of your home.

Denis Boyer also points out that a well-designed wall insulated with hemp has the advantage of allowing the drying not only of the moisture contained in the structural material at the time of construction, but also of the building envelope in the event of any moisture or water infiltration (infiltration from outside or leak from the inside).

Being a natural and non-toxic material ensures that installation is safer and easier than many other types of insulation with no special safety gear or gloves required.

Hemp batt wall insulation in a wood framed wall © Nature Fibres

Hemp insulation products available through Nature Fibres: 

  • Flexible and compressible insulation batts;
  • masonry blocks;
  • semi-rigid soundproofing panels;
  • semi-rigid decorative and soundproofing panels;
  • felts for subfloor insulation.

5.5 " batts for a standard 2x6 wall currently cost $1.90 per square foot and 3.5" batts for 2x4 stud bays cost $1.35 per square foot. "Our prices per square foot fall right between the cost of mineral wool and polystyrene panels," said the director of Nature Fibers.
On product availability -: "We are currently in discussion with BMR subsidiaries about hosting our products in some of their renovation centers, " says Sebastien Bélec. When asked about the development potential of his company, he replied, "the market for bio-based Hemp insulation panels and Hemp based building materials is growing rapidly among individual builders, as well as architects and general contractors, and the demand is coming from all across Canada & USA"

See all about Hemp Building Materials here in the EcoHome Green Building Guides