Under a hot sun amid the sounds of a concrete mixer, Beate Kirmse and her husband, Bern Galvin, lined up in the backyard of their Rolling Hills home to lend a hand in the construction of their future living room.
But it wasn’t concrete coming out of the mixer. Wood chip-like shreds of hemp shiv — the core of hemp stems — were mixed with water and a lime-based binder to produce a sustainable building material called hempcrete. Layer by layer, Kirmse, Galvin and a handful of volunteers poured buckets of the dry mixture into wooden forms within wall frames. In a few days, they will reveal what is believed to be the first permitted use of hempcrete in the state.
At the “Building Resilient Communities Permaculture Convergence” (Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA, on September 20-23, 2018) Hempire presented the first hemp house in California made of US hemp and binder!
The Romans have been using it since the days of Julius Caesar, but not to get high. Both Washington and Jefferson grew it.
Now that several states have legalized the use of marijuana for some recreational and medical purposes, one of the biggest untapped markets for the cannabis plant itself — at least one variety — could be as a building tool.
The most sustainable building material isn’t concrete or steel — it’s fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century, when France was still Gaul.