Friday, August 24, 2012

Hempcrete-A HEMP HEALTHY HOME

Hempcrete for a Healthy home.

Many people are looking for a better way to build a home. Everybody wants a home that costs less to operate and no one wants to live in a home that makes them sick. What if you could have all these plus a home that helps protect the future for our kids and ourselves.
Hempcrete is a fantastic option to do exactly those things. Hemp crete is indeed made from the plant that bears that villainous name – Hemp. The cannabis family has two main groups, marijuana and hemp, with the primary distinction being the plant’s content of THC. THC is the chemical component that makes marijuana the drug that it is. Having a very low concentration of THC, hemp has no drug value. In fact, the THC content is so low in hemp that people will get sick from the smoke before getting high if they try to smoke it.
So what makes hempcrete a building material instead of just another plant? Judging by the name, you can probably guess it has more than one component. The first component is hemp hurd or shiv. This is the woody part of the plant stalk that has been broken down to slivers wider than a toothpick but about 1/3 the length of the same toothpick. The crete component is natural lime, a basic building material that has been used for thousands of years in plaster and mortar. These items are combined with water and mixed to a slurry. This slurry is poured into forms and tamped into place and allowed to dry and cure. The drying happens in a few days while the full cure takes about 90 days as the lime absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turns back into limestone from which the lime was made.


Hempcrete sample

This hempcrete model shows some of the details of this construction method.
What makes hempcrete a better way to build?
First: It is a natural material that can improve the health of your home. Hemp can help moderate moisture levels in a home allowing the home to better deal with fluctuations in humidity. The lime incorporated into the wall can kill mold, so if water were to ever get into the wall, the lime protects the wood and hemp in the wall as well as the health of the home’s occupants. Another benefit of lime is to prevent bug and rodent infestations. Hardened lime in the hempcrete will scratch and dry out bugs so they cannot live in your walls and the lime will also scratch rodents making them very unhappy in your walls.
The use of completely natural products in your home can also be a life saver for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, allergies, asthma or Asperger’s Syndrome. Each of these conditions can cause serious health responses to perfume, adhesive vapors, and cleaning chemicals. Because all natural lime plaster can be made white, light tan or all the way to red or dark brown with many other colors options with natural pigments there is no need for paints or smelly stains. For people with these or similar conditions this can be not only comforting but downright lifesaving. Another option for finishing the inside of your hemp home is clay plaster. This plaster is literally made with clay and can be done in various textures to fit your style. Clay plaster has similar health characteristics to lime plaster and can often be made from soil on your home site, connecting you to your home in a deeper way.
Second: Hemp is a highly renewable resource with multiple benefits. The plant is harvested every year, sometimes twice. This is nearly 10 times higher per acre than trees. The seed from hemp is a highly nutritious food. The fibers from the stalk are used in everything from long wearing clothes to upholstery and insulation products. Every part of the plant is used and benefits a wide variety of industries. Hemp used to grow in almost every part of North America and as a native plant needs very little chemical help to survive unlike most farm crops in use today.
Third: Hempcrete and its associated building materials are very durable. There are hempcrete homes in Europe that are 300 or more years old. The lime protects the hemp and wood in the walls from water related damage including mold. Lime stucco is the preferred cover for hempcrete. Lime stucco is far more resistant to cracking and water penetration than modern stuccos. Stucco is also very fire resistant. If there were a fire in your hempcrete home, there would be a lot of cleaning but your home would be substantially intact, protecting you and your memories as well as your investment.
Fourth: Hempcrete walls provide excellent insulation capabilities. Most hempcrete homes are built with a 12” deep wall. This thickness combined with the R-2.8 /inch insulation value provides an R-33 insulation. A highly insulated home such as this will be exceptionally comfortable and need very little heating or cooling. This reduced heating and cooling requirement means your home energy costs can be kept at very low, manageable levels.
Fifth: Design flexibility. Hempcrete can be built in many different ways from fairly standard wall thickness to 12” or more inches deep. These thicker walls can offer a very romantic old world feel with deep, solid window and door frames. This feel can be accentuated by color and design to deliver a unique one of a kind feel like an Italian villa or a more modern, squared look can be utilized. Your new hemp home can also look like almost any other home on the block if you would rather blend in with the neighbors.
Hempcrete is product that is rather new to Joplin and the US but has a well-established track record in Europe as a durable, healthy, efficient home material. Despite the commonly vilified reputation of hemp in this country, hemp can provide an incredibly healthy, comfortable home for you and your family.


To learn more about this or other efficient, healthy construction techniques contact Willy at Crane Home Energy

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