This presentation by Joni Lane is from TEDx Charlottesville in 2014. Joni is a LEED Green Associate with a Masters in Sustainable Design from the Boston Architectural College. She believes “great design has the power to change the word” and she believes hempcrete can help heal our built environment and rid our society of “sick building syndrome.”
Simply put, hempcrete is a “healthier and more sustainable way to build.” Hempcrete is a building material made from hydraulic lime, water, and industrial hemp. But what exactly are the benefits of building with hempcrete?
From an environmental perspective, hemp is a “rapidly renewable resource that does not require pesticides.” Furthermore, during its growth cycle hemp absorbs 4x more CO2 than trees while remediating the soil. The CO2 absorbed by hemp is then locked up and stored in the hempcrete. And at the end of its useful life, hempcrete returns to the earth because it’s a biodegradable building material.
From a building materials perspective, hempcrete is fire-resistant, insulating, and mold-resistant, it regulates indoor the air temperature and humidity, it cleans the indoor air, and it’s breathable. As Joni so succinctly puts it, building with hempcrete is “building with nature.”
Joni mentions a few notable hempcrete buildings during her presentation: the Adnams Distribution Centre, the Nauhaus Institute’s hemp house, and The Triangle green development project.
Adnams Distribution Centre:
Adnams is a British brewery and the Adnams Distribution Centre is located in Suffolk, UK. The building is a marvel of sustainable architecture, and among its many sustainable features are hempcrete walls: “bricks made from locally-grown hemp, lime, and chalk are more energy-efficient to manufacture and help to regulate internal temperature. The block hadn’t been used on such a large scale before, so we had to invest in machinery to make enough of them for our building.” Another fun fact about the Adnams Distribution Centre is that it has the largest green roof in Britain.
The Nauhaus Institute is “a nonprofit dedicated to finding carbon neutral solutions for the built environment.” The Nauhaus Institute built a hempcrete house in Asheville, North Carolina. The house was completed in 2011 and is LEED Platinum certified and 90 percent more energy efficient than the present code mandates. You can even stay at the house – check it out on Airbnb!
Here is a video of Clarke Snell, Managing Director of the Nauhaus Institute, explaining some of the benefits of hempcrete.
The Triangle is a 42 home green development project in Swindon, UK. All of the buildings in The Triangle have hempcrete walls made from locally grown hemp.
Here is a video of Kevin McCloud, host of the British TV show Grand Designs, talking about building with hempcrete at The Triangle.
James Eichner is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Sana Packaging. Prior to the cannabis industry, James worked in the environmental nonprofit sector, the music industry, and the publishing industry.