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Attention Builders: Are you interested in building with hemp? Steve Allin, Director of The International Hemp Building Association, has written the definitive book on hemp building. Buy “Building with Hemp” by Steve Allin here
Welcome to the next EVOLUTION in Green Building:
In April 2011, our film crew attended the 2nd International Hemp Building Symposium, in Granada, Spain, where we interviewed leading professionals in the hemp building industry from around the globe. In September, our film crew headed to Great Britain, as we followed the hemp trail back to where the industrial hemp used for America’s first hemp houses was imported from.
America’s First Hemp House was built in Asheville, NC by Anthony Brenner, David Mosrie and Hemp Technologies using hempcrete in 2010. Hempcrete has been successfully used in Europe for over 20 years. Hempcrete is a mixture of hemp hurds (shivs), lime and water, and is used for construction and insulation.
Hempcrete’s resistance to pest, mold and fire helped Asheville’s former Mayor and his wife save 60% on their homeowners insurance, as the owners of America’s first hemp house. A hemp house requires minimal heating or air-conditioning, and can help cut energy bills by 30% to 50%.
A carbon-negative REVOLUTION in Sustainable Building
Did you know that buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S.? Hempcrete has incredible thermal qualities that can cut energy bills in half, thereby reducing our carbon footprint and our reliance upon coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. While the average home lasts 80 years, and ends up in our landfills, hemp houses can last 300 to 800 years, and can be recycled back into the earth. Hempcrete can keep homes and buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, with minimal use of air conditioning or heating.
During its growth process, the hemp plant sequesters over 15 tons of carbon. It takes just 2.5 acres of hemp to produce enough hemp shiv to build a 1,250 sq. ft house. Hemp can grow up to 14 feet in just 14 weeks, requires NO pesticides, minimal fertilizer and irrigation, and is an excellent rotation crop. If 900 traditional homes were built using industrial hemp, over 45,000 tons of CO2 would be saved during the building process.
Adams Brewery in Southwold, Suffolk, UK built their beer warehouse with hempcrete. Thanks to hempcrete’s incredible insulating qualities, the building requires no heating or air conditioning. The beer is brought to the warehouse at a colder temperature, and the building continues to keep the beer cold at a constant temperature of 51 to 55 degrees, like a giant, environmentally friendly cooler. Using hempcrete, Adnams distribution centre saved over 500 tons of CO2.
It’s Easy Being Green (and Non-Toxic, Mold-Pest and Flame-Resistant with Hemp)
IF you think that green building means healthy homes, you’re not alone, but to date, the green building industry has mostly focused on creating the most energy-efficient homes, rather than the healthiest homes. Green homes are tightly sealed to insure that heating and air conditioning don’t escape in order to conserve energy, but harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, polyurethane and flame retardants are found in building materials like MDF, PVC, fiberglass, plastics, paint and sealants are also trapped in with its inhabitants. The VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) in these products can continue to off-gas over time, adding to indoor air pollution and a myriad of health problems.
In comparison, hempcrete is a non-toxic, carbon-negative building material whose breathable walls naturally help to filter toxins from the air, creating great indoor air-quality. Hempcrete is mold-mildew-pest and flame-resistant, making it ideal for areas prone to fires and flooding hempcrete can be used for walls, flooring, insulation, roof insulation and plaster.
One of hempcrete greatest strengths is its ability to regulate humidity. Typical building materials leave homes with fluctuations in humidity, which can mean condensation that can lead to mildew and mold. Mold remediation is an expensive procedure that often requires the use of dangerous chemicals. If the mold has caused structural damage, it can cost a homeowner $10,000 to $30,000 or more. If not dealt with, mold can cause serious health risks to those living, working, or going to school in homes or buildings that have mold. Many homeowners are often surprised to find that their homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover mold. This is true of most insurance companies because of the high costs associated with remediation, and the difficulty in identifying when the mold occurred. Imagine trying to sell your home, and finding you have to spend $10,000 to $30,000 out of pocket for mold remediation.
RETRO-FITTING HOMES & BUILDINGS
Former President Bill Clinton recently held a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago to talk about job creation in the U.S. One of his main focuses is retrofitting U.S. buildings and homes to make them more energy efficient. Clinton was quoted in the the cover story of a recent Newsweek “We could put a million people to work retrofitting buildings all over America.”
Hemp’s outer fibers are being used to make healthy, non-toxic insulation, as an alternative to standard, fiberglass insulation. It offers comparable or better results than traditional fiberglass insulation. Hemp fiberglass is able to absorb and release moisture which helps to regulate internal moisture levels, reducing the risk of condensation, mildew and mold, making a home more healthy and comfortable. Like hempcrete, hemp insulation is non-toxic, carbon-negative, mold-fire and pest-resistant, sustainable and biodegradable, with great sound absorption, humidity regulation and thermal resistance.
Hempcrete can be sprayed on the facade of existing buildings, and lightweight Hempcrete can be applied between ceiling rafters to make homes more energy-efficient. A six-inch layer of Hempcrete sprayed on an existing building can make a huge impact upon one’s energy bill.
Hemp is making other strides in the construction business. In 2011, Larry Serbin, the owner of Hemp Traders announced the availability of the world’s first formaldehyde-free, non-toxic hemp particle board as a healthy alternative to MDF (medium density fibreboard). It doesn’t warp, making it great for bathrooms. It’s great for homebuilders, cabinetmakers and carpenters, for use as furniture, shelving, flooring and molding.
Hemp Shield® offers the first 100% Hemp Oil based deck finish for wood based products that is produced in the U.S. It outlasts most petroleum based products, and contains no formaldehyde or other harmful chemicals, and is pest and mildew-algae and fungus–resistant.
Anthony Brenner discovered hempcrete while searching for the world’s healthiest building materials for his daughter, Bailey, who suffers from extreme sensitivity to chemicals. “My goal from day one was that everything I’d design, all the materials used, would meet Bailey’s standards,” Anthony explains. “If things weren’t non-toxic and chemical-free, then I wasn’t interested.”
Dear Builders and Homeowners,
If you like what you’ve read, please go to Vote Hemp, where they have made it easy to contact state and national legislators. Tell them you want U.S. farmers to be able to grow industrial hemp, so that everyone can afford hemp’s healthier building materials. It is very important to let our elected officials to know that the public supports the farming of industrial hemp.
Blaire & Linda
Please consider making a donation to our film, to help us bring this important story to NC and the U.S. We have fiscal sponsorship through the Southern Documentary Fund, making all donations tax-deductible.