Hemp HousesArticles — By NUG Magazine on January 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm
Hemp Houses will save the world, and maybe your life: Southern Californianâ€™s Best Fire Solution
By Dion Markgraaff
In so many industries, nothing can compete with cannabis and more proof is being documented every day. Cannabis hemp, the 2nd fastest growing plant in the world and the most beneficial plant known to man, has been harnessed to create a revolutionary fireproof building material, with truly amazing environmental benefits.
The First Modern Hemp Homes in America
Commercially known as hempcrete, this versatile hemp based product has been used in Europe for 15 years to construct hundreds of fireproof multi-story homes and commercial buildings. On December 2 in Ashville, NC., the Nauhaus Company started to build the first permitted hemp houses in the United States using hempcrete.
However, credit for the first modern hemp structure in the US goes to the Lakota Nation for constructing a hemp based community recreation center on the Pine Ridge Reservation with US federal redevelopment money a decade ago. The center is made with hemp and adobe bricks, hemp insulation, and experimental hemp fiber reinforced cement board.
What is Hempcrete?
Hempcrete is made from the woody core of the cannabis plant (hemp hurds) and lime made from heated calcium carbonate which, when combined, creates a chemical reaction binding the mixture together. Hemp hurds have historically been viewed as a waste by-product once the valuable fiber was extracted. Lightweight and easy to work with, hempcrete can be mixed on site like concrete and is used to build non-load bearing walls on timber or steel framed construction projects, and for floor and roof insulation. Hempcrete can be sprayed on, set into molds which cure in 6-24 hours, or purchased in pre fabricated blocks. Hemp Houses last Forever and â€˜Breatheâ€™ Hemp building products have amazing longevity due to their vapor permeability and inherent plasticity. Over time, a hemp house becomes a virtually indestructible self-insulating and waterproof structure, anticipated to last 700 yrs. They are naturally resistant to fire, rot, pests, mold, and fungus.
The vapor permeability of hemp houses allows them to â€˜breatheâ€™, thereby eliminating destructive moisture which causes structural damage and the dangerous mold problems experienced in conventional drywall homes. Single skinned and cavity-less, they do not require additional insulation as the vapor transfer makes hemp walls passive self-regulators of temperature, reducing the need for expensive heating and air conditioning. And hemp walls absorb up to 90% of airborne sound, making them perfect for bars, bands, and noisy neighbors.
Seven times stronger than concrete
The inherent plasticity of hemp construction materials makes them highly flexible when set, allowing a hemp building to handle normal deformations caused by load settling, eliminating the need to install expensive movement joints. Buildings made with hempcrete are up to seven times stronger than those made of concrete, weigh 50% less, and are three times as elastic.
The superior strength and flexibility make hemp homes resistant to stress-induced cracking and breaking, even in earthquake-prone areas like Southern California. Hemp structures get better, harder, and stronger every day while maintaining their flexibility. Eventually, the hemp/lime mixture fossilizes, making it as strong as stone.
Advanced Fire Protection for San Diego
The fire protection offered by hemp homes is unmatched. They are the answer for fire prone areas like San Diego and the rest of California where there is constant risk of raging, home destroying fires. Hemp houses have incredible fire stopping capabilities due to the lime binders in the hempcrete. The lime fuses into the hemp, making the final product fireproof. Lime does not integrate into conventional building materials, and will not stop fire in them.
Fire resistance testing of hempcrete block walls showed they withstand 1000C heat applied for 1hr and 40 minutes, with the tests ending only when the mortar joints holding the blocks failed. The hempcrete did not burn. Based on these tests, hempcrete has been approved for one hour fire walls.
Hemp Houses are Good for the Environment
Growing cannabis hemp removes deadly carbon dioxide (CO2) from the environment and replaces it with oxygen. It takes 1.84 tons of CO2 to make 1 ton of dry hemp. The CO2 is locked inside the planet, and then inside the walls of the home. Each ton of hempcrete has 330kg of CO2 trapped in it. The materials needed to build the average conventional home creates 10 tons of CO2, while each hemp home uses and saves up to 50 tons of CO2 emissions.
Also, hemp building products are very forgiving in application. If a mistake is made, the dried hempcrete can be ground up on site and reused, or it can be spread on land as fertilizer as it is solvent and agrochemical free.
Hemp Houses are Affordable: 2.5 acres of hemp = 1,500 sq foot house
Presently, the price for building a hemp home is about 10% – 25% more than the cost of a conventionally constructed home. The costs in Europe per square meter (British Pound) are â€“ hemp 526 vs. conventional 478.
Many of the financial benefits from a hemp home, besides the house not burning down, are realized after it is built, in savings on electricity bills, maintenance and insurance costs.
As more hemp houses are built, more hemp will be grown which will lower the production and transportation costs of hempcrete. A 1,500 sq foot hemp home can be built with the amount of hemp grown on 2.5 acres in 90 days. Using just 1% of the agriculture land in Brittan to grow hemp would produce 18,000 homes per year. And when agricultural powerhouse California finally allows her farmers to grow hemp, fireproof hemp building materials will be readily available and affordable (almost free) to fire terrorized Southern Californians.
For more information, get the book â€œBuilding with Hempâ€ by Steve Allin or visit INTERNATIONAL HEMP BUILDING ASSOCIATION whose mission statement says â€œThe aims of this association are to develop, promote and support the production and use of all hemp based construction materials and their by-products in a sustainable and bio-regional manner for the benefit of the ecology and communities of all regions of the world.â€
The foundation of our future is cannabis
The future is now when the subject is about saving our homes and environment. Nothing can compete with cannabis and our hemp homes will literally be the foundation of our future.