Meet Klara Marosszeky. She has been working for 10 years to create viable building material out of…hemp.
That wall she’s leaning against? Yep. Made out of hemp. Hemp and lime, pressed into a form. The substance hardens and ta da! You’ve got hempcrete. The advantages of this method are numerous. The building material is resistant to mold, is fire resistant, recyclable, sound-dampening, resistant to rodents and other pests, and would stand up great in an earthquake. Second best of all, it’s cheap and you can do it yourself. Best of all, it’s crazy good for the environment. It doesn’t look so bad, either.
Klara and a guy named Paul Benhaim have written an e-book called Build A House of Hemp wherein they tell you all the ins and outs of building a hemp house for yourself. If you have 2.5 acres of land and a hardware store nearby you can grow and cultivate the hemp and process it yourself, and build your own house. Klara has actually built her own house out of hemp, and I think that’s the one seen directly above this paragraph.
In April of 2009, Fast Company did a small write up on hemp houses, saying that a hemp house leaves no carbon footprint – that the small footprint left by the lime in the mixture is negated by the “negative” footprint of the the hemp. Fast Company does bring up the one sticky wicket – it is illegal for American farmers to grow industrial hemp. So, a big old law would have to pass to make this type of building a viable, local option. What do you think?