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Can Hemp integrate with the sustainable housing projects in India?

When you hear sustainable housing ideas, what things come in your mind first? Does it mean creating your home more efficiently in terms of insulation, light, electricity, etc? For me, it’s more than that. It is something like building a house that has the least possible negative impact on the environment. With this I mean energy efficiency, avoiding environmental toxins, using resources more responsibly while having a positive, physical and psychological impact on its inhabitants.

What we build matters and so does how we build it. Building with sustainability in mind should be standard for the twenty-first century home. Building sustainable homes not only save your money in the long run but also reduce your impact on the environment. The most sustainable building materials tend to be derived from plants. Timber is an obvious example, as is bamboo. But there is another fast-growing crop that makes an excellent building material and it is none other than hempcrete.

Over the last few years, several hemp innovations have emerged. It has been used to produce a lightweight building material for walling and insulation purposes that has the added benefits of superior thermal performance and carbon negativity; plastic for functions ranging from single-use to automotive components; textiles used for technical as well as apparel and is found to be several times more sustainable than cotton and cheaper to produce; and in electronic applications such as in super-capacitors as a replacement of graphene.

As concrete jungles become the norm in metro cities, few individuals and startups are mindful of the disasters non-sustainable architecture and urban planning lead to. We’re on the lookout for partners for the endeavor. So now learn about those individuals’ stories or start-ups which are on a mission to reduce our carbon footprint and at the same time are working to safeguard the environment through architecture and eco-friendly construction.

Let’s begin with Tarun Jami who founded GreenJams Infrastructures LLP with a vision to integrate the "Built Environment" with the "Natural Environment". They found that adopting carbon-negative materials was the only way to realise their vision, ergo the birth of their Hempcrete R&D.

GreenJams was also a showcase partner at India's First Hemp Showcase organised by Project H at Hyderabad on the 20th of April, 2019. They had showcased hempcrete with a fun DIY "Make Your Hempcrete" activity. Hempcrete, courtesy Green Jams, is exactly what one would think it was, and people happily got their hands dirty and manicures ruined as they got down to hand-make hemp concrete blocks.

Founders of GreenJams Infrastructures, Tarun and Varun Jami

Tarun Jami who produces hempcrete said that it reverses climate change. 1 cubic meter of hempcrete sequesters 250 kg of carbon dioxide.

Another entrepreneur Gaurav Dixit, who is CEO of GoHemp Agro Ventures Pvt. Ltd and general secretary of Uttarakhand Hemp Association. UHA is a non-profit organization found by the people from Uttarakhand to help the state in the implementation of its hemp vision at the grass-root level. UHA envisions to create a sustainable ecosystem of the hemp industry in Uttarakhand which will benefit everyone associated with the hemp revolution especially the people directly connected to nature.

Below we are listing few such organizations which use eco-friendly construction materials but without knowing the power of hemp. Maybe they have somehow managed to be unaware of it until now. That’s okay. We are here to enlighten them not just on what this newest craze is but by letting them know how they can integrate hempcrete in their sustainable housing project.

28-year-old Kumar Shashwat founded ‘Development 2050’ in 2016. The organisation was envisaged to provide sustainable environmental development for Delhi NCR and surrounding regions through green construction, rainwater harvesting, a revival of micro-ecosystems, and others.

At present, Development 2050 is at work on its construction project in Gurugram, with features such as water reusing technology and terrace gardening. His team is working on reviving water bodies in the Aravallis and building check dams. The target end of this project is to revive the ecological balance of those regions.

Kumar wants people to come closer to their natural surroundings and to feel responsible for it so that they are motivated to move into action in case of any environmental hazard.

Puja Arti and Rohan Shenoy founded ‘Build-Inn’ in August 2015 to help customers find sustainable and alternate materials for building homes. Their aim is to work with builders to create sustainable housing.

They use ancient and modern features such as filler-roof slabs, radiant cooling, soil-stabilised block construction, pre-engineered buildings, rainwater harvesting, and organic hydroponic gardens.

As we collectively begin to add more insulation to buildings to lower their energy requirements, the volume of insulating material we use is going to rise dramatically. It makes ecological and financial sense to fill this volume with materials that are annually renewable, low-impact and, ideally, sourced from waste streams or from by-products from other processes. So, they can make good use of hempcrete in their project because hempcrete meets all of these important criteria.

Siddharth Menon after graduating from Mumbai moved to Auroville and built his first ‘Earth House’ there. Earth-based houses, which are mostly built with mud, have the least ecological footprint. He has been working with local building materials such as mud, bamboo, stone, wood, working with traditional craftspeople, and uses labor-intensive building techniques. His aim was to use architecture to address socio-economic inequality, ecological and cultural degradation.

He strongly believes that houses should be built in tune with the environment, unlike what is happening today where concrete structures are the norm in most areas.

Talking about the green building movement and sustainable practices in the field, he says, “It’s a buzz word and a phase that will pass. Most sustainable practices today are merely techno-fixes.”

He can integrate hemp in his future housing projects as the hemp house gives the privilege to live in a place that is not only safe and non-toxic but also helps in cleaning the air, the earth, and our bodies. Being a cellulose material, Hemp takes carbon in during its life and lets it back into the atmosphere when it decays. If you take that plant and put it into a wall, the carbon is trapped inside and not released into the atmosphere. You can also check our previous blog where we talked about everything we need to know about building with hemp.

How Hempcrete is made?

Hemp-based concretes are among the most promising and environmentally sustainable alternatives to conventional concrete. All you need is hemp hurds, or the center of the stalk, water, and lime (which is powdered limestone). Mix it in a slurry and form it into the wall of a building and over time the chemical reactions between the water, lime, and Hemp will petrify the hemp and turn the lime back into stone.

The way ahead

With civilization advancing at an unprecedented rate there is immense infrastructural development going on all over the world. This rapid rate of construction, from the past couple of centuries, using modern construction materials has also started to have an impact on our environment.

Much like China, India too cash on this cannabis boom, both environmentally and economically. Its tropical and temperate climate helps cultivate the plant for a longer duration of time. It is essential to battle stereotypes and stigmas and differentiates between the narcotic cannabis and the industrial version so that policy-level changes can be implemented. Hempcrete has been one of the most researched building materials in recent times.

The increasing use of conventional building materials in the country is increasing the risk of the catastrophic level of pollution. This needs to be halted at all costs to ensure that future generations are able to live a clean and healthy life in the country.

We at Himalayan Hemp Organization are making people aware of the harm of using conventional building materials while at the same time educating them on the massive benefits of building with hemp. Please feel free to get in touch with us to learn how you could have your very own hempcrete home. Share your ideas, thoughts, and plans for your next building project. We'd love to collaborate with you and your team to create a worthy project.


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