How do you make a house out of hemp?
Hempcrete is a new building material made of the woody core of the industrial hemp plant with excellent insulation properties that’s increasingly being used by environmentally conscious builders.
On Sunday, September 8, an 8-Star energy efficient house with hempcrete walls in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote will be open to the public as part of Sustainable House Day. It is designed by leading sustainable architect, Steffen Welsch.
A family of four – Michelle and Chris and their two children – live in the hemp and rammed earth house. It’s an outstanding example of sustainable design with a cleverly conceived courtyard that maximises natural sunlight, lots of thermal mass and a range of energy and water saving measures.
The not-for-profit Alternative Technology Association (ATA) is co-ordinating the public opening of the house and will feature it in the next issue of its sustainable home magazine, Sanctuary. (well worth a subscription!)
Sarah Robertson, the editor of Sanctuary, said the home was not solely an example of sustainability in action, but beautiful to be in as well. “The exposed hemp and rammed earth walls give the living spaces amazing texture and create very homely and peaceful spaces,” she said. “Sustainable House Day will allow people to see this home and learn from the homeowners. It’s a real treat to visit.”
Steffen Welsch said hemp had strong environmental credentials as a fast-growing plant that stored carbon dioxide. “It’s very easy to resource, has very low embodied energy and the potential to make a wall carbon-neutral,” he said.
“You need a good client who is prepared to take a risk and Michelle and Chris were happy to try a relatively new material.”