Construction is considered as one of the most relevant sectors in terms of environmental impacts, due to the significant use of raw materials, fossil energy consumption and the consequent Greenhouse Gases emissions. The use of unconventional and environmentally-friendly materials and technologies is worldwide recognised as a key factor to enable the decrease of material and energy consumption in buildings. Between natural/sustainable materials, those using hemp products and by-products (fibres and hurds) have rapidly widened their field of application in the building industry, mainly because of their good hygrothermal and acoustic insulation properties. Moreover, the usage of these materials allows high carbon storage due to the CO2 sequestration during the agricultural phase.
This study represents an energy and environmental assessment of hemp crop cultivation in France, carried out through a Life Cycle Assessment approach, showing positive and negative contribution related to the different life cycle phases. The total CF evaluated through the IPCC, 2013 GWP 100 method (IPCC, 2013) is equal to 0.975 kgCO2eq, in view of a CO2 uptake of −1.29 kgCO2eq. So, it is understood that the total CF results therefore lower than the CO2 uptake due to the biogenic carbon captured and stored during hemp growth. The total Energy Footprint, instead, was calculated in 17.945 MJ. The Upstream phase came out as the main contributor to the impacts. A sensitivity analysis was performed to explore changes in results related to main inputs assumptions and, in particular, the environmental benefits associated with the replacement of conventional fertilisers (ammonium sulphate) with organic matter were highlighted.