Written by Colby Dunn, Smoky Mountain News
If someone said the word "hemp," the first thing to spring to mind probably wouldn't be home construction. But if you're looking for a strong, green, energy-efficient building material that's resistant to pretty much everything, hemp might be your best choice.
This is the concept being pitched by Greg Flavall and David Madera, owners of an Asheville-based business called Hemp Technologies. They're some of the first to build with the material in the United States, where industrial hemp hasn't seen the rise in popularity it enjoys in other countries, thanks to a federal ban on U.S. production.
Its recognition is slowly ramping up, though, due in part to its benefits over standard concrete. The third house in the country to be built with the technology is going up now, in the mountains above Lake Junaluska.
Roger Teuscher, the homeowner, said he was turned on to the idea by his first architect, who suggested the plant as a cleaner, greener alternative to standard homebuilding supplies. Tuescher, who lives most of the year in Florida, said he was drawn not only to the cost savings gained by increased insulation, but by the product’s recyclability.
David Piller, Hemp News Correspondent
A friend of mine recently put together a survey for a ethnography research methods class on the topic of creating effective hemp education and promoting hemp awareness. Below are a few of my responses.
What is your educational platform (or pro-hemp argument) that you use when doing hemp outreach?
My main "argument" is that if we are truly serious about maximizing the growth of the green economy and creating a sustainable future, industrial hemp must become, once again, one of the United States' primary crops. I stress how cultivating hemp will do more to help clean our air, soil, and water than any patented technology our scientists can offer. I include hemp nutritional benefits and communicate how making more hemp foods available to our citizens, we can improve the quality of life of many and reduce our long term health care costs.
Do you change this platform for various audiences: when and why?
Yes and no.
I think it is important to make things as simple as possible for people to grasp hemp’s true potential, and I always strive to bring it down to a healthy environment, healthy food, and healthy industries to lay a solid foundation to build a dialogue upon.
By Liina Flynn, Echo
Klara Marosszeky has a vision for the future that involves revamping of the local farming industry to produce industrial hemp crops. Working with farmers, she has just harvested her first commercial crop of industrial hemp and is looking for innovators who want to utilise the product.
(Tetrahydrocannabinol) content and produces the longest, strongest plant fibres in the world. It is used in many countries in the manufacture of plastics, fiberglass, fabrics, food and building materials.
“In the UK, a major car manufacturer, Lotus, is making whole cars out of hemp,” Klara said. “Everything but the engine is hemp. Henry Ford would be grinning in his grave.”
Klara currently teaches sustainability courses at TAFE and envisions hemp as the solution to many of the sustainability issues that are affecting Australia today. Not only is she trying to create a hemp industry in NSW and open the way to using hemp seed as a food product, but she is out to make housing materials affordable. After looking around for alternative products to replace our current dependence on timber, Klara spent years experimenting with hemp masonry as a building material, with very successful results. Two years ago, she was a finalist for the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board’s innovation award for her hemp masonry.
By David Ing for Hemp News
An ambitious sustainable social housing scheme, designed to meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes through the use of renewable materials, has achieved planning approval. The development is being delivered by Crossover C-Zero LLP in partnership with Flagship Housing, one of the largest providers of social housing in East Anglia and will be built using Tradical® Hemcrete® thermal walling system from Lime Technology.
Based at Denmark Lane, Diss, the scheme will see the construction of 114 housing units and will be the first major affordable homes project proposed to seek Level 4 rating of the Code for Sustainable Homes. To aid its completion, the development has managed to obtain £3 million in funding from the Housing and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), who earlier this year offered financial aid for the delivery of social housing schemes that used renewable materials.
Airlines have high hopes for a new range of biofuels
By Dominic O’Connell, Times UK
At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport last Monday a gaggle of aviation executives, politicians and journalists trooped aboard a KLM jumbo jet for a flight to nowhere.
The trip was uneventful — the plane and its 40 occupants circled above Holland for a couple of hours before landing where it took off. However, in a small way, it was historic. It was the first flight by a biofuel-powered airliner to carry passengers.
In fact, the plane was only partly powered by biofuel. One of its four engines ran on a 50:50 blend of biofuel and normal aviation fuel. The biofuel was made from camelina, an inedible green shrub.
Despite the limited experiments to date — Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and a clutch of other carriers have run test flights without passengers — airline executives are thrilled with biofuels.
Their industry is a target for politicians and environmentalists in the crusade against carbon dioxide emissions and the prospect of a fuel that will allow the industry to grow while reducing its emissions is enticing. “In the decades ahead, the airline industry will be largely dependent on the availability of alternative fuels in its drive to lower emissions,” said Jan Ernst de Groot, KLM’s managing director.
By John Boyle, Citizen Times
Photo by John Fletcher, Citizen Times
Leave it to Asheville to be the first place in the country to build not just one, but two houses largely out of hemp.
Well-established as a green building center, Asheville has two homes under construction - one in West Asheville, another off Town Mountain Road - that use hemp as a building material. The builders and Greg Flavall, the co-founder of Hemp Technologies, the Asheville company supplying the building material, maintain that they're the first permitted hemp homes in the country.
"This area is known to walk the talk of being green," Flavall said, adding that the Asheville area has by far the largest percentage of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, builders of anywhere in the country. Hemp is derived from the same plant that marijuana comes from. Although it contains very little of the active ingredient that gets people high and is completely impractical to smoke, it's still illegal to grow it domestically.
But builders can import industrial hemp products like Tradical Hemcrete, the material Hemp Technologies sells. When mixed with water and lime, it makes remarkably strong, resilient walls. Some builders generically refer to the walls as hempcrete.
By Eco Composites, Writer
A visit to the Innovation Park at BRE in Watford has been arranged as part of the Natural Fibres 09 conference, which takes place at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London from December 14-16.
The park showcases modern methods of construction and features over 200 different emerging technologies in a number of demonstration properties, including the Renewable Hemp House.
Speaking at the 60th annual congress of CELC – the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp – which took place in Strasbourg, France, from November 4-7, Claude Eichwald of French organisation Construire de Chanvre, said that the use of hemp in concrete was growing, with between 2-4,000 houses now constructed completely from hemp concrete, and many more employing it with mixtures of other building materials. The CELC conference also heard from Rémi Perrin of Strasbourg-based Soprema, which is now manufacturing flax roofing membranes, and Vincent de Sutter of Sutter Freres which has been making natural-fibre based door panels for almost 50 years.
In the latest copy of its journal, CELC outlines the components of a house entirely constructed from natural fibres, as show in the illustration above.
The unique energy efficient house made from hemp at the UK BRE Innovation Park meanwhile, showcases the future of low carbon and sustainable buildings.
By Daniel Flahiff, Inhabitat
Buildings account for thirty-eight percent of the CO2 emissions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Green Building Council, and demand for carbon neutral and/or zero footprint buildings is at an all-time high. Now there is a new building material that is not just carbon neutral, but is actually carbon negative. Developed by U.K.-based Lhoist Group, Tradical® Hemcrete® is a bio-composite, thermal walling material made from hemp, lime and water. What makes it carbon negative? There is more CO2 locked-up in the process of growing and harvesting of the hemp than is released in the production of the lime binder. Of course the equation is more complicated than that, but Hemcrete® is still an amazing new technology that could change the building industry.
Good looking, environmentally friendly and 100% recyclable, Hemcrete® is as versatile as it is sustainable. It can be used in a mind-boggling array of applications from roof insulation to wall construction to flooring. Hemcrete® is waterproof, fireproof, insulates well, does not rot [when used above ground] and is completely recyclable. In fact, the manufacturers say that demolished Hemcrete® walls can actually be used as fertilizer!
By DONAL O'CONNOR, Staff Reporter
Photo By SCOTT WISHART, The Beacon Herald
Private-sector funding for establishing hemp-processing factories may be a hard sell at the moment, but Gordon Scheifele is undaunted in his passion for developing the enormous potential for hemp.
Earlier this week on a farm just east of Tavistock, Mr. Scheifele was showing a group of 16 mostly student workers how to distinguish male and female buds on hemp plants within a 10-acre seed crop.
Plants showing yellowish male buds, he explained, were to be pulled -- a task known as roguing. The plants with female buds, which will develop into seeds that can be certified for resale, were to be left alone to grow to maturity.
Mr. Scheifele spared few details in explaining to the young workers -- area students ranging from Grade 9 level to first-year university -- the potential that industrial hemp holds for the future of farming and manufacturing.
The list includes building and insulation materials for houses, material for garment and bags, a substitute for plastic in the automotive industry, an antiseptic and absorbent bedding for horses or other livestock.
That's apart from the edible seeds that are rich in essential fatty acids and the seed oil that can be used in the making of non-dairy cheese and yogurt.
The Renewable House, a new demonstration house that has been designed to illustrate that low cost and low carbon are compatible, has been officially opened.
The Renewable House, a new demonstration house that has been designed to illustrate that low cost and low carbon are compatible, has been officially opened.
Built at the BRE Innovation Park and officially opened at Insite 2009, the Renewable House is a demonstration of the commercial viability of building affordable homes from renewable materials.
The house has been designed to meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with a build cost of £75,000, excluding groundworks and utilities.
Unlike many other houses that meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, the Renewable House features very few additional technologies. Instead the performance of the house has been made possible through the ingenious use of materials which have been used to create a thermally efficient and low carbon building envelope. By using limited technologies – which can have a short life span, therefore require on-going replacement, upgrading or maintenance – the house has also clearly demonstrated cost efficiencies.
By Press & Journal Staff
A SPECIAL energy-efficient house made from hemp, designed by Archial Architects, has been unveiled at the BRE Innovation Park, which showcases the future of low-carbon and sustainable buildings.
The three-bedroom Renewable House, which costs £75,000 to build, not including ground works or utilities, uses renewable materials to deliver a well designed, yet low-cost, affordable home.
The external walls are constructed from a revolutionary sustainable material called Hemcrete – provided by manufacturer Lime Technology – made from hemp plants grown and harvested in the UK and lime-based binder.
Hemp is one of the fastest growing biomasses and is often used in paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, health food and fuel.
It is estimated that The Renewable House’s carbon footprint will be about 20 tonnes lower than a traditional brick-and-block house. The hemp absorbs about five tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during its rapid growth period, which then becomes locked into the fabric of the building, making the thermal Hemp-Line walling solution “carbon negative”.
The Renewable House meets level 4 of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) – a national standard which measures the sustainability of homes against a set of design categories such as energy consumption and building materials. The Government’s target was for all homes from 2016 to be built against code level 3 standards.
Experimental homes made out of hemp are to be built under new government plans.
By Ben Leach, Telegraph.co.uk
A prototype three-bedroom house, funded by the taxpayer, will go on show today. The home is part of a government drive to build more housing with a smaller carbon footprint.
The "renewable house" features walls made from Hemcrete - a mix of hamp and lime - and was built thanks to a £200,000 grant from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), which built the home, said building it used half the energy that building a traditional brick home would use.
It claims energy bills for the home owners would be as low as £150 a year, and predicts building on thousands of houses could begin soon.
Dr John Williams, head of materials at the NNFCC, told The Guardian: "The forecasts are that we could roll this out very quickly if someone places an order for 25,000 homes.
"Increasing numbers of farmers are growing hemp because it fits in with their current growing cycles between April and September and it is a good break crop for wheat.
"If just 1 per cent of the UK's agricultural land was used to grow hemp, it would be enough to build 180,000 homes per year."
The hemp house provides a cheaper alternative to traditional brick and mortar housing, with a build cost of £75,000 excluding groundworks.
Wine Society's warehouse uses preformed panels of hemp and lime that locks in carbon dioxide
By Stephen Kennett
The UK's first warehouse building to be constructed using preformed wall panels made out of hemp has now been completed.
The £3.7m warehouse for the Wine Society in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, has been designed by architect Vincent & Gorbing and has exterior walls built of Tradical Hemcrete, which is a mixture of hemp stalk and modified lime. It is a development of cast insitu hemp-lime walling that locks carbon dioxide within the wall construction.
Mark Chandler, architect and director of Vincent & Gorbing, said: “The design responds to the requirement for minimal heating and cooling equipment with the resultant reduction in energy consumption.”
The cladding offers good insulation properties, explains Chandler, and helps maintain a stable internal air temperature throughout the summer and winter.
The 8.5m2 panels, which are 300mm thick, are mounted on the building's steel truss frame, while a 40mm-thick composite aluminium panel is used to provide weather protection on the external face.
Together with the highly insulated roofing system, it provides an insulated internal space that exceeds Building Regulations requirements.
The environmental potential of hemp as a building material has never really been in doubt - it absorbs carbon as it grows and can be grown almost anywhere, cutting down on the need for energy-intensive transportation.
But is it any good?
A study underway at the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials at the University of Bath is attempting to clear up any doubts.
"The idea of using hemp and lime has been around in the UK for ten or 12 years now and there have been a number of applications but there's still relatively little scientific information on the performance of the materials," Prof Pete Walker, director of the centre, told edie.
"We've identified this as a significant barrier to market uptake."
He said that mainstream engineers, architects and buyers were shying away from a potential tool in the fight against climate change due to the absence of reliable independent information on its characteristics.
The research project is providing concrete answers to the questions of the construction industry and also experimenting with different ratios of hemp to lime in an effort to maximise its carbon cutting potential.
"The lime has all the embodied carbon and energy and, if we're honest, the cost," said Prof Walker.
"The hemp offsets this. Using renewable crops to make building materials makes real sense - it only takes an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp to build a typical three bedroom house.
By Press Association
A form of cannabis could be used to build carbon-neutral homes of the future, university researchers have said.
A consortium, led by the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials at the University of Bath, has embarked on a housing project to develop the use of construction materials made of hemp.
Hemp-lime is a lightweight building material made of fibres from the fast-growing cannabis plant, bound together using a lime-based adhesive.
The hemp plant stores carbon during its growth and this, combined with the low carbon footprint of lime and its efficient insulating properties, gives the material a "better than zero carbon" footprint, researchers said.
Professor Pete Walker, director of the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, said: "We will be looking at the feasibility of using hemp-lime in place of traditional materials, so that they can be used widely in the building industry.
"We will be measuring the properties of lime-hemp materials, such as their strength and durability, as well as the energy efficiency of buildings made of these materials.
"Using renewable crops to make building materials makes real sense - it only takes an area the size of a rugby pitch four months to grow enough hemp to build a typical three bedroom house."