By Jean Lotus
Europe’s leading prefab hemp building company, which has built more than 65 specialty low-carbon homes, will stake a claim in the United States market with a large-scale hemp processing facility and headquarters in south-central Indiana. A second location is planned on tribal lands in the western United States.
The US corporate branch of Dun Agro Hemp Group, will seek to replicate the sustainable vertically integrated 28-year hemp operation in Oude Pekela, Holland, which grows, harvests and processes industrial hemp for fiber applications and seed, founder and CEO Albert Dun told Hemp Build Mag.
Dun Agro’s prefab home panels include walls, ceiling, roof and flooring. Dun Agro’s prefab home kits are made of hemp + lime (hempcrete) panels from hemp grown around their Dutch facility. The natural building materials in each prefab home sequester about 14.5 tons of carbon in a 1,300 sq. foot house, the company said.
Although the company hasn’t revealed the exact location, Niki Vandenburgh, Co-CEO and COO of Dun Agro Hemp Group, Inc., said the new US headquarters would be located “in south-central Indiana.”
In the upcoming years, Dun Agro’s processing facility will organize with regional farmers to grow about 15,000-25,000 acres of industrial hemp varieties specially developed for non woven and textile fibers, Dun said. The facility, scheduled to open “late 2023,” will process hemp stalks at 11- 13 tons per hour, using proprietary technology, Dun said.
“Dun Agro’s move is an exciting affirmation that fiber industrial hemp based building products are growing in popularity here in the United States,” said Cameron McInstosh, founder of Pennsylvania-based Americhanvre Cast Hemp in a text.
“It is great to hear about this development,” said Jake Waddell, president of the US Hemp Building Association in a message. “The potential of hemp building in this country is huge and Dun Agro’s decision to enter the market shows the world is taking notice.”
Green factory model planned
The new Dun Agro factory will be modeled on the Dutch low-energy facility that gets most of its power through solar energy. Dun said the new factory would provide economic opportunity to farmers and create jobs. In Holland, the company contracts with 71 growers to cultivate 3,200 acres, according to Dutch magazine Trouw.
Along with custom hempcrete construction panels, Dun Agro processes hemp into raw materials used in car parts, textiles, and animal bedding. In Europe, the company processes hemp for animal feed and other consumable products including CBD products and hemp flower tea. Dun Agro has developed specialized hemp harvest equipment.
“The most important thing is that we have our own chain, our own system from harvesting to processing, producing finished materials ready for consumers,” Dun said.
The US hemp industry is facing a “learning curve” because American agriculture producers are “used to working with commodities,” and not producing the high-profit value-added finished goods, he added.
Dun Agro’s European prefab hempcrete home panel kits are erected by construction cranes in about three days. For the American market, the home designs will be “a little bit bigger, because Americans like bigger houses,” Dun said.
Two showcase homes will be built in the United States from kits shipped from the Netherlands, Dun said. One will be located at the Indiana site and another “near a big city” where the house can be a destination.
The company will also make general structural insulated panels (SIPs) with hempcrete insulation. Dun Agro is currently working on a seven-story structure in the Netherlands, Vanderburgh said.
The west-coast facility will move more slowly with a few trial crops growing this year through tribal partnerships that the company is not yet naming, Vandenburgh said.
“Dun Agro’s goal is to replicate the facility across the country in multiple locations,” she added.
Dun observed that the expansion to the United States would likely be challenging.
“But you solve the problem by finding a solution. When you want to find a solution, you do it. Dun Agro is strong in finding solutions,” Dun said.
Jean Lotus is editor/publisher of HempBuild Magazine
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Originally published June 13, 2022 on Hemp Building Mag