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Everything you need to know about building with Hemp.

Some say money makes the world go round, but it is also contributing to the deterioration of our planet. While developing cities are great for the economy, building materials account for 39% of CO2 emissions. Cutting back construction isn’t an option for our growing population, but finding a sustainable replacement for toxic building materials is. It’s hard to imagine that cement could possibly be replaced by any other material for major construction projects, but the industry is starting to look at alternatives for a variety of different environmental and economic reasons.

Furthermore, the massive demand for cement has created a global shortage of sand, which could have a disastrous impact on both the environment and the economy. Hemp can be used as a replacement for concrete and insulation without the damaging effects on the environment and our health.

Surprisingly, hemp-based concretes are among the most promising and environmentally sustainable alternatives to conventional concrete. This is not just a theoretical idea or prediction, but something that builders are already implementing in their architecture.

Across the world, conventional building practices are becoming more unsustainable. It’s not just the methods and materials used to construct a building that affects the environment.

How it’s built to operate has a huge impact as well. Buildings are responsible for not just a large percentage of the world’s water use, but a large percentage of wasted water as well. It’s estimated that buildings use 13.6% of all potable water, which is roughly 15 trillion gallons of water per year. The destruction and renovation of buildings result in a large amount of waste. Building waste often includes concrete, metals, glass, plastics, wood, asphalt, bricks and more.

How Hemp houses help us to build a more sustainable Future?

Hemp is an increasingly popular choice of eco- friendly construction material. It has many advantages, including excellent moisture and temperature regulating properties, light, flexible yet extremely durable physical characteristics, and remarkable resistance to fire, rot and animal/insect infestations.

Watch the video below to know about its sustainability.

All over the world, people are turning to “Eco Houses” in a desperate effort to live more sustainably. Hemp is already an important building material in the Eco House construction industry, and could prove crucial to building a more sustainable future. It is quick-growing, requires few pesticides or fertilisers, and the process of turning the harvested hemp into building materials like hempcrete is simple and non-environmentally impacting.

64-year-old Mac Radford, owner of JustBioFiber Structural Solutions, one of the leading manufacturers of hemp-concrete, says that demand for the material has increased so much in recent years that he is having a hard time keeping up with the demand, and once his recent expansion is completed, he estimates that his company will be producing enough hemp brick to build roughly 2,000 homes per year.

“We are at a tipping point,” says Greg Flavall, technical building advisor for Hemp Technologies Collective, which sells a hemp mixture for insulating walls.

“It all comes down to acceptance,” Flavall says, noting many baby boomers saw hemp as taboo and didn’t distinguish it from marijuana.

Henry Ford built car parts with it. George Washington grew it. Thomas Jefferson touted the growing of hemp over tobacco as a cash crop. Now, more farmers in U.S are allowed to harvest this multi-purpose plant, hemp might see a new heyday—in homes.

In the United States there are currently only about 50 homes containing hemp, in such states as North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Hawaii, but this natural wonder has been used in construction around the world for centuries. The united states is rolling out a come-back mat for a ancient leaf that was widely use from colonial times through world war II but fell into anti drug disfavour. Across America a grassroots effort is underway among builders. Builders are hoping that crops lower the cost of hemp fibre, used to make non toxic, energy-efficient insulation.

Mixing hemp’s woody core with lime and water produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating.

So how should we be going about turning our hemp house plans into reality?

The concept of buying a ready-built house is scary enough, and adding the responsibility of actually building it may be simply impossible for many. But if the circumstances are right, it could save a great deal of money, and it’s the ideal way to ensure that your home is just how you want it.

1. Planning & Budgeting for Your Hemp House:

The first major consideration is budget. Unless you have previous house-building skills, you will probably need to shell out money for an architect – so figure that into your expenditures right away.

The fixed price for hempcrete materials is approximately $135 per square metre based on a 300 mm thick wall. If labour is subcontracted out to an installation team, the owner can expect to pay between $230 and $265 per square metre. And also architectural fees end up around 10-15% of the total construction cost, but this may vary depending on your specific location and plan. Furthermore, as the industry expands and hemp increases in popularity, costs are likely to come down and building with hemp will become even more affordable.

2. Right location for Your Hemp House:

This will depend greatly on local laws, regulations, prices and availability. Consider your site carefully. There may be online resources that will help you locate a plot of land. Generally, this approach is preferable to building on wild land – it’s hardly an eco-house if the habitats of countless birds and insects have been destroyed to create it. You may be planning to receive your utilities from the grid, but for many people interested in building an eco-home, energy self-sufficiency is a big factor. Therefore, you should be considering and costing your options here–solar panels, passive solar heating, waste-water recycling systems, rainwater collection, wind turbines, and even micro-hydroelectric.

We have to take care for wild life properties not to destroy the trees and locate the house where we can find our daily things profitably and easily. Your first option is a solar cook. You can make one yourself using commonly available materials, or buy a commercial version sized to suit your family’s needs. Hemp houses have now been built in the UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and many other countries worldwide.

A beautiful hemp house built in the UK in 2009 (© BRE_Group)

3. Which Materials Do You Need?

Sourcing and obtaining your materials is the next major consideration. Typically, you’ll be using Hempcrete over a timber frame, although steel or concrete frames may also be used.

Making house with entire hemp is hard, but you can get close with something called hempcrete. Hempcrete is a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material weighing about a seventh or an eighth of the weight of concrete. Hempcrete is mold-resistant, carbon-negative, and works as an insulator. When used as structural support, hempcrete can increase the load strength of a study wall by a factor of three to four times.

Hempcrete was discovered in a bridge abutment in France built in the 6th century. Since the modern form was developed by French company Isochanvre, it has been the basis for more than 250 homes in various locations across France. Given it has survived 14 centuries, people expect hempcrete buildings will have a long life.

Hemp house will be the best house in the world. Why?

Some key advantages of using hempcrete:

  1. It is a breathable material

  2. It provides a healthy environment

  3. It has great energy efficiency

  4. It maintains a steady temperature

  5. It has the versatility to be used in floors and roofs

Hempcrete can be a sustainable replacement for dry walls, insulation, exterior boarding’s, house wraps, and paint. Due to this, many people are beginning to yearn for an alternative. Of course, it’s not just the unsustainability factor that really speaks to people – it’s the unnatural loss of community, the dislocation from our roots, the exposure to dangerous air pollution, the lack of sunlight and green spaces for kids to thrive and grow. Watch the video below to know how Joni Lane, LEED Green Associate explains about this amazing part of nature which can be used for bio-fuel, food, fiber, and medicine, all the while creating new jobs, promoting industry and generating new tax revenues.

The need to house the expanding populations adds to the ever-increasing pressure we are putting on our ecosystems, as we exploit natural resources with seemingly unstoppable haste. Hemp Eco Houses may help us to build a more sustainable future. We are packing more and more people into cities each year, and ravaging our environment in a desperate effort to sustain this inherently unsustainable lifestyle.

Hemp is comparable in cost to conventional building materials, and has so many green credentials that it’s already worth serious consideration. Furthermore, as the industry expands and hemp increases in popularity, costs are likely to come down and building with hemp will become even more affordable.

You can join our Himalayan Hemp community to make the best and most cost-effective use of this precious, renewable resource and help people build hemp houses and also educate them on hempcrete. Learn here about your passion for hemp and to get an overview on hempcrete and its benefits.

-Himalayan Hemp


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