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The house made of hemp

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November 30, 2010

The house made of hemp

The house made of hemp

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America's first house made primarily of hemp has been built. Using a product known as Hemcrete – a mix of industrial hemp, lime and water – a team of 40 volunteers, sub-contractors and designers have recently completed construction of a hemp house located in Asheville, North Carolina (NC). Eco-friendly design and construction company Push Design has gained the support of community members and local officials alike and now plans to build more.

Using a product known as Hemcrete – a mix of industrial hemp, lime and water – a team of 40 volunteers, sub-contractors and designers recently completed construction of the hemp house in Asheville, North Carolina (NC). Eco-friendly design and construction company Push Design have gained the support of community members and local officials alike and now plan to build more.

Using hemp as a building material is not new. Hemcrete is a registered brand of hempcrete, a material has been an alternative building material used in Europe and Australia since the 1960's. The use of hemp in buildings dates back millennia in Asia and the Middle East where the Cannabis plant originates from. The biggest challenges of using hemp as a building material in the U.S are regulation, supply and cost, all of which are related.

David Mosrie of Push Design explains: “The main negative effect of the legal situation [in the U.S] is the cost to import it, which is frankly very high. Even while [the government] is legalizing medical marijuana now in 19 states, [they] can't seem to allow industrial hemp production. Local production would not only lower the environmental impact exponentially versus bringing it from Europe, but would bolster a struggling economic group and prop up local farming, a long regional tradition. It frankly makes no sense to keep up the ban , at the state or federal level, but it continues on.”

Given the restrictions on hemp production in the U.S, Push Design sourced their industrial hemp from the U.K through the company Tradical via a fellow NC company Hemp Technology.

“We are very lucky to have Hemp Tech and their founder, Greg Flavell, here in Asheville,” Mosrie told Gizmag. “Greg is one of the top experts on hemp in the world. We have been looking for the most effective, sustainable and energy efficient toxin-free building material for years, an effort that we still put time into every single week. We recognized almost immediately that hemp was, in every way but in cost, seemingly the most effective and sustainable material available worldwide. The qualities it offers are beyond anything we get from typical materials, combining energy efficiency found in mass-based construction with the carbon sequestration, rapid renewability, strength, several hundred year wall lifespan, and the breathability and indoor air quality that is unsurpassed. It is an incredible combination, and a list of positive attributes we have never seen in any other material.”

Hempcrete has some interesting qualities one of which is it's ability to pull carbon from the atmosphere both while being grown and while in-situ producing a double edged sword for fighting climate change. Firstly at the cropping stage the hemp plants naturally use carbon dioxide for growth at about 22 tonnes per hectare, however the interesting factor is that the building itself continues to sequestrates carbon as lime in the hempcrete calcifies over time.

“The fact that the lime content is constantly calcifying, turning to stone essentially, over the wall’s life span, means the wall is actually getting harder and stronger as time goes on,” Mosrie said. “The durability is unlike anything we have seen, with the exception of stone, as perhaps even beyond that as there is no mortar joint failure possible. Studies in Europe have estimated about a 600-800 year life span for the wall system.”

The house made of hemp

The interior of the house is lined with recycled paper panels known as PurePanels. This material is 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper which is corrugated, and panelized. It is lined with Magnum Board, a breathable, natural sheetrock replacement, using organic glue. The panels are lap jointed and installed at about five panels per hour using a glue strip and four screws toenailed into the floor and ceiling. “The result is a sustainable, toxin-free, breathable panelized wall system that goes in very quick and is counter-intuitively strong,” said Mosrie.

The doors are made of the same material skinned with hardwood veneers, are fire rated and incredibly light. Window frames in the house were recycled from demolished houses with the heavier and better insulating glass replacing the old panes.

In all it took the team nine months to build the house, however Mosrie believes that future projects would take around half that time. The longer construction time was due to unfavourable weather conditions and the teams' inexperience in using hempcrete.

Push Design have recently signed contracts on several new homes in the Asheville area, and on two micro-developments of five units each, also in Asheville. Push is also acting as a consultant on supplying materials to dozens of projects destined to use Hemcrete from Texas to Colorado to the East Coast.

And if you want a house built using hemp and are worried about people trying to smoke it, Mosrie puts it this way: “We tell folks they would have to smoke the master bedroom to get high! It would take smoking 2500 lbs of the hemp to get high, so it is a losing effort.”

27 Comments

Ok, 2 things..:

1. The human race are becoming elves.... we're living in plant-houses, what'll be next? Sky-scraper-trees?

2. I bet someone would set the house on fire and stay inside to get high :P

And a question:

Isn't this house extremely easily flammable? It seems a little bit dangerous to live in o.O

However i like the concept, and if it's not easily flammable, i'd definitely consider living in one.

Christoffer Thor Wang Sperling
1st December, 2010 @ 06:42 am PST

Lets hear it for American hemp farmers--the most buzzed farmers in the nation! The only downside I can see with large-scale hemp farming in the States is that the locations will have to be controlled by law enforcement to keep teenagers from baking their brains to oblivion, and that will drive up costs either through business overhead or through taxes. That said, I'm seriously considering building my own hemp house.

Brutal McKillins
1st December, 2010 @ 09:25 am PST

An addendum: if it's difficult to get high on the industrial form of hemp and it cannot be easily altered/bred into a form that does get you high then it is plausible that the federal government could be convinced not to impose the tight security I mentioned above.

Brutal McKillins
1st December, 2010 @ 09:52 am PST

Alright kids, for the bajillionth time... industrial hemp doesn't get you high. Not that that should be considered a problem... There is no "requirement" for law enforcement to brutalize and imprison peaceful folks for the simple act of choosing how they wish to think. If the powers that be were interested in building communities over standardized human work units of 'productivity' we'd be able to look out for and after each other without taxes, giant corporate subsidies, and the like. George washington was both a hemp farmer and a smoker of female cannabis plants. Revolutionaries such as George that champion individual liberties (ever read the constitution?) are the kinds of people the war on drugs is in place to persecute and keep quiet. Why on earth would anyone care about (for example) what Willie Nelson does on his tourbus.

Anyways, draconian policy not in any way influenced by legitimate science and the notion of inalienable human rights aside, hemp is an extremely useful, productive plant that can be grown cheaply on an industrial scale in America if it weren't deemed illegal by those lovely folks in washington. But instead, we subsidize corn (and milk) to the point of throwing bargeloads away in the ocean.

Dave Myers
1st December, 2010 @ 09:55 am PST

Reading the first two comments I'm struck with the fact that people in this country - even those interested in science and technology - are so ignorant to think that you can get high on hemp.

Cannabis can be grown for THC or fiber and seed. Unfertilized females produce the most THC - Mexican brick average 8-12% THC with hybrids grown hydroponically capable of double that amount.

Hemp is planted like corn and males dominate as they grow taller. The competition for sunlight produces plants up to 18 feet tall with a THC content of 0.2% - at least 40 times LESS than Mexican brick. Once the fiber is extracted the THC content is virtually nil.

The advantage of hemp over other fibrous plants is the the fibers range from 12-18 feet in length. Further the seed averages 25% dietary protein and is palatable to humans and animals, especially birds who can crack the raw seed with their beaks. It's what makes canaries sing.

Further the seed can be pressed for oil, and that oil was used in WWII bombers as a lubricant and could be used as a basis for biofuel.

North Dakota passed a law that would regulate the growing of hemp, but the DEA sued in federal court to override the state law. Meanwhile no farmer can grow corn without government subsidies, and the variety (yellow dent) has very little protein but lots of sugar which is fed to livestock or made into high fructose corn syrup. Watch this video (1hour 24 minutes) if you want to know what HFCS is doing to our society:



Facebook User
1st December, 2010 @ 10:24 am PST

Of course we all know that hemp plant (sativa) for making things is different than hemp (indica) you smoke.

Facebook User
1st December, 2010 @ 10:34 am PST

Not all Cannabis strains have high enough levels of THC to get people high. There are thousands of different strains. Not too mention only the female plant produces buds that contain the THC. The Cannabis Sativa plant is grown to produce Hemp as it grows very tall and is suited to Hemp production. Here in Canada, Hemp Farming has been regulated and works pretty well. As far as teenagers causing trouble, I have never heard of an issue.

The early settlers were forced to grow a certain amount of hemp on their properties. Many people dont know this. Until the early 1900's when everyone was afraid that their white daughters were going to be sleeping with black men, then the world flipped!

If anyone reading this is interested in the healthiest seed in the world to consume, look up Hemp seed or hemp seed oil. It packs more protein than meat, and all the Omega 3, 6, and 9's that you'll ever need in your diet.

Not to mention Biofuel, and medicine. I could go on forever...Stop prohibition! Free the most important plant in the world. Do your research!

Facebook User
1st December, 2010 @ 11:33 am PST

@Brutal McKillins - Actually not... "*Industrial hemp has a THC content of between 0.05 and 1%. Marijuana has a THC content of 3% to 20%. To receive a standard psychoactive dose would require a person to power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over an extremely short period of time. The large volume and high temperature of vapor, gas and smoke would be almost impossible for a person to withstand." (http://naihc.org/hemp_information/hemp_facts.html)

Facebook User
1st December, 2010 @ 11:41 am PST

If this building method has been around for so long and offers a raft of advantages over concrete, why on earth is this not a 'mainstream' building technique?

I guess there are a lot of good ideas out there that never see the light of day because of lack of investment, marketing etc. Sigh I want a hemp house!

Ashlin
1st December, 2010 @ 11:50 am PST

Industrial hemp is not at all the same as the type of hemp used to get high.

AussieJohn
1st December, 2010 @ 11:56 am PST

Hi Christoffer, it is fireproof.

More info

http://inhabitat.com/hemcrete-carbon-negative-hemp-walls-7x-stronger-than-concrete/

Ashlin
1st December, 2010 @ 11:58 am PST

We have industrial hemp farmers in Canada. I have built aproximately 12000 square feet of building with hemp bales. I prefer regular straw.

The carbon absorbtion spoken of here is bogus. Sure some carbon is absorbed, but that was burnt off in production, in addition to the energy needed to do the burning. THere is no way that using lime absorbs more carbon than used in production.

Straw bale homes have a far lower embodied energy, higher insulation values, and sequester several tons of carbon in the walls.

foghorn
1st December, 2010 @ 01:04 pm PST

@foghorn, nice nickname! I have no doubt that when it comes to using bales for build that straw is better than hemp. That is not the type of construction we are talking here. They are using the long fibers as reinforcement in the lime where it performs fantastic!

Will, the tink
1st December, 2010 @ 03:19 pm PST

I can dig it.

GeoMoon5
1st December, 2010 @ 03:35 pm PST

The Aussie outback is being destroyed by cotton farmers who use too much water and poison the soil with pesticides, while hemp uses a fraction of both these resources. Our country could benefit tenfold from hemp production in textiles, building and assorted other areas like treating glaucoma and other illnesses. Governments have the foresight of a gnat and the flexibility of a brick when it comes to looking after the people. PS I think the lime in the mix would help retard fires especially after several years of hardening.

svengali49
1st December, 2010 @ 06:54 pm PST

Were I to make a case to a US politician, I would probably go to one of the new tea-baggers and other (supposedly) "smaller governement" pols first.

I would have with me the regs. and history related to hemp production in other countries (like Canada and the UK) and then ask them why the US sits back while we allow other countries to eat our lunch on this one. There are a whole slew of new polititicians in Wash. DC just waiting to show that they want to move forward with smaller governement and less stupid regulations. Make them put their mouths where the money is (or whatever the kids are saying these days).

That said, I live in skandahoovia and would rather work on getting something done here first.

Alan Belardinelli
2nd December, 2010 @ 05:50 am PST

Hemp does grow extremely quickly in a good environment, and therefore makes a good organic industrial material. Good on whoever had this idea!

Chris Blake
2nd December, 2010 @ 06:48 am PST

What a pity the American government is so profoundly retarded as to regulate a plant that has no down side.

What should happen is the puritan cretins that want to keep Hemp illegal should be taken out to the edge of town, then tar and feathered then told if they ever are seen again they will be shot on sight.

You can't fix something that stupid, I'm surprised we don't have UFO's showing up to take a gander at the most soul numbingly stupid beings in the universe, the law makers, the tiny minded cretins that try to regulate every single part of our life, see above for solution to the little minded morons.

RealityBites
2nd December, 2010 @ 09:16 pm PST

If you're looking for a reason why this obvious strategy is not accepted, check out the DVD 'The Garbage Warrior' in which an American Architect battles to build sustainable housing out of recyclable materials and discovers that the US building conglomerates have pegged out the territory long ago by lobbying for and having introduced legislation that matches the building codes to the specifications of their manufacturing sizes, loadings and methods.

The current economic model is not so much anti-hemp as anti-anything that could threaten their very thoroughly and carefully constructed hegemony. Think ... well, oil for instance! The current system isn't intrinsically anti-change but pro-maintenance of their income streams.

The best action we can all take is to vote with our wallets, each and every day. Buy based on your personal values, till it hurts and then some. The system will go where the money is. Make it profitable to change, and the corporations will. This more than anything is the reason why we should all go in and order a new Prius! - and keep on riding our bikes until they fill the back orders - because if you just buy the cheap alternative in the meantime, you support their status quo. The struggle for change doesn't have to be out on the streets on in the polling booth - the struggle is in giving up the material stuff, unless the material stuff is built on principles you agree with. We're luckier in NZ - the legislation does at least theoretically allow hemp cultivation and the system is not so large that individuals can't contemplate stepping outside it. Now all I have to do it get enough $$ to buy the land! Arohanui. The Karori kid.

Chris Clarke
3rd December, 2010 @ 04:06 am PST

Can you imagine if the roads and driveways were be made of his hempcrete. Just think of the strength and crack resistance that all those fibers would bring to mix.

Buellrider
4th December, 2010 @ 09:27 am PST

Great technology, and so many other hemp products out there.

A NEW Hemp Building technology where you do not need to grow for decorticated hemp (learn more at www.growinghempforprofit.com) - is the WHOLE STALK METHOD where you can build a house of hemp without any requirements for large machinery

This makes affordable housing sustainable with hemp. http://www.thehempbuilder.com is where you may find out more...

Paul Benhaim
5th December, 2010 @ 01:49 pm PST

The article begins: "America's first house made primarily of hemp has been built." Kindly Google "hemp house slim buttes" and learn about a house build with hemp adobe bricks on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 2000.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

Thanks for continuing this process ...

Bob Gough, Secretary

IntertribalCOUP.org

Bob Gough
9th September, 2012 @ 11:59 am PDT

Cannabis cultivated for medicinal purposes is bushy, highly-flowered, with a high THC content. Industrial hemp has few leaves, is primarily stalk fiber and has a low THC content. They are different plants.

Henry Ford made a car from hemp. Except for the running gear, electronics, and the frame, the body, interior, gas, oil and tires were made from hemp derivatives. No one smoked the car.

Lauren Graham
10th September, 2012 @ 10:03 pm PDT

Second everything said by Chris Clarke 2 years ago.

I wrote 3 college papers on hemp, marijuana, why it's illegal and why it shouldn't be. And I don't even smoke the stuff (though I did as a teenager, and quit for good when I became a Mom.) From all of my research, it was the timber/newspaper industries backed by Dupont who primarily saw a threat to their revenue streams due to discoveries in processes to easily and cheaply produce paper and other textiles from hemp. With their fortunes in danger, these rich and powerful moguls of industry (William Randolph Hearst being a prime example) created a massive propaganda war to convince American citizens and leadership that marijuana was a horrifically dangerous drug that should be strictly banned without delay. This propaganda did in fact include statements to Congress, if I recall, to the effect that "Mexicans" were deliberately bringing the drug into the country in an effort to ruin our way of life, and that white women smoke it and then wind up sleeping with black jazz musicians. Horrible! Just think, even a lily white senator's lovely wife or daughter could be lured away by the demon weed... Of course this is shockingly racist and offensive talk in today's day and age. But it was the talk that won the argument.

I think nowadays that big money, big business, and big government are all the same people. They are all in on it. The states are slowly coming around and decriminalizing the drug, but it's going to be a long time before the government gets on board with that and even longer before they allow the farming of industrial hemp. Because marijuana was the scapegoat...but for these "leaders", industrial hemp is the real enemy.

Oh, and the hemp house is super cool. Hope one day the interests of the people and the interests of our leadership fall a little closer together in this country...

Julie Stout
7th November, 2012 @ 04:04 pm PST

To all U.S.-based readers, in Latin America (I'm writing from Peru) we have been using for some decades now a similar product made from the remainings of sugar cane plus concrete (locally called Fibracreto). It has similar characteristics: high- cellulose content in fibers, non-flammable, lighter (very desirable due to our quakes) and long-lasting.

Also we have witnessed what drug crops, whichever these may be, bring to our land: deforestation, violence, corruption and poverty. I won't go into further details on what it does to people (you all clearly know it), but what I can tell you is that there are plenty of other natural alternatives, fully available and economically viable.

It is just a matter of "loooking a bit further", every day.....

Thank you for your kind attention

Charlie Channels
3rd April, 2013 @ 06:19 am PDT

Canada has a lot of industrial hemp stalk for use. Most of it is now just being wasted as the US and Canadian Governments are to small minded to see the future of alternative industrial materials and/or coopted by special interests (read forestry corporations).

After bringing Hemp back to N. America we (Manitoba Hemp Alliance) assisted in setting up a number of Co-op's here in Canada who now produce quite a lot of hemp, almost all of it for seed production... hemp nut and oil, with a majority of the fibre going to waste, all due to a lack of government understanding/cooperation.

Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Coop http://www.pihg.net/ would be a good start to connect with Farmers growing hemp now.

Hempcrete - originally showcased at the 2nd annual Industrial and Commercial Hemp Conference in Vancouver 1998 - proved to be many times stronger than traditional concrete. Even the Romans used hemp in their concrete, and look how long their constructions last. Worth a look I think.

Stay green!

Kab

Nicholai Kabnikoff
4th April, 2013 @ 06:00 am PDT

People have been looking for more information about hempcrete, especially pricing and cost info. USA hurd suppliers, who have sales and pricing information for hurd used in hempcrete in the USA are below:

American Hemp (http://americanhempllc.com - East Coast, USA hemp distribution and sale)

Hemp Traders (http://hemptraders.com - West Coast, USA hemp distribution and sale)

More information about hemp for grain and fiber, especially in the USA, can be found on the:

Hemp Industries Association (http://thehia.org)

Nutiva (http://nutiva.com - hemp food)

Manitoba Harvest (http://manitobaharvest.com - hemp food)

Vote Hemp (http://votehemp.com).

More states continue to introduce legislation to legalize industrial hemp cultivation. It is already legal to import processed hemp into the USA, but illegal to grow. The hemp industry could be viable in the mass production and sale of hemp fiber, hurd (core), dust, and grain for the food (grain and oil), building materials (hempcrete, insulation, fiberboard, etc.) animal bedding (equine/horse, guinea pig, poultry, etc.), clothing, bioplastics, etc. industries.

HempNCUSA
1st December, 2013 @ 07:19 pm PST
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