Ashden Awards: Hembuild



The Ashden Awards uncover and reward sustainable energy pioneers in the UK and across the globe, to date it has given out 170 prizes. Hempbuild won the 2014 award for sustainable buildings.

Bringing zero-carbon buildings one step closer

Key facts

– Buildings account for at least 37% of the UK’s carbon emissions

– Hembuild and Hemclad have been used in more than 50 projects to date, including   Marks & Spencer’s Cheshire Oaks store and the Science Museum plus many houses across the UK

– Hembuild provides the lowest possible heating costs for the life of a building – typically 40-60% less than other methods of build.


More than a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to the use of buildings, so it’s vital to make sure that new buildings are efficient. But construction itself also creates emissions, so it’s also important that building materials have low ‘embodied’ energy, as well as reducing emissions in use and minimising space-heating costs.

About the company

With fantastic thermal properties and ability to stabilise humidity, hemp mixed with lime to create this bio-composite natural material Hemcrete has been used in sustainable building construction for many years. But until now it has always been cast on-site, giving it limited commercial appeal.

The Abingdon-based company HemBuild, part of the Limetec Group, has developed panels that are made-to-measure in an off-site factory, then arrive at building sites ready to be slotted together like a jigsaw puzzle to form the building’s walls. Aside from proving that Hembuild is economically viable for builders, building users can revel in their superior eco-credentials, a comfortable environment – and lower bills. There’s significant potential for expanding its use across the commercial and domestic building sector.

The Award

HemBuild won the 2014 Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

The Ashden judging panel said: 

This is a big leap forward on the journey towards zero-carbon buildings. By making it commercially viable to use Hemcrete, the possibilities for expanding the use of this sustainable material across the commercial and domestic building sector are substantial.

Progress since its Award

Late in 2014, HemBuild had a house project receiving a major award for sustainability and secured its company’s largest-value project for an archive/storage facility for GSK. The exemplar efficiency of the M&S Cheshire Oaks store also resulted in the latter’s CIBSE award. A new product – HemLine – has been developed to make Hemcrete available to the retrofit/upgrade market.

Plans for the future

HemBuild is attracting business across the UK, plus new contacts from Europe, and is in constant demand for a wider range of project solutions than ever before. With its increasing technical experience, HemBuild is able to predict performance much earlier in the design process, adding to the potential commercial advantage for a project. With live retrofit projects under discussion the future is good for Hemcrete in this completely new sector.

Find out more at www.ashden.org/winners/HemcreteProjects14

Watch a one-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XTODBBy_Bo

Photo: Ashden Awards via Flickr

Further reading:

An Ashden evening with Ed Davey and Zac Goldsmith

Abundance and Ecotricity among winners at Ashden Awards

‘Sustainable energy champions’ announced as Ashden Award finalists

Eurostar Ashden awards £30,000 to sustainable travel businesses

20 questions with… Sarah Butler-Sloss


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