By Harriet Burrows
May-Ring Chen will soon be living in Perth’s first Hempcrete House.
The Hempcrete is made from hemp which is similar in appearance to marijuana, but without the intoxication properties, for producing fabrics and ropes, then mixed with lime and packed down by hand into a timber framework.
“The process of growing the hemp cleans the soil and its chemical free when used as a building material its carbon neutral and doesn’t contain any Volatile Organic Compounds,” said Builder Mikkel Hansen
“We don’t need to add any chemicals, its termite resistant, fire retardant and when you bulldoze the house you can just spread it into the ground and it turns into soil.”
Hansen said there are a few hemp h`ouses in Margaret River and one due to be built in the Swan Valley.
“The house is passive solar, it won’t need any air conditioning, the Hempcrete is breathable and vapour permeable which keeps constant humidity,” said Architect Barbara Cullity.
Cullity compared the process to fast food saying it’s more expensive and takes longer to build, but the house will be more efficient at staying cool in summer and warm in winter, which means living costs are considerably lower.
The house should be complete in the next few months and open for viewing at Sustainable House Day next year.
Cullity and Hansen believe sustainable hemp building will take off given time.
“Some people look at my van Hempcrete and they think it’s silly, they don’t know anything about it. It’s all learning, I do my best to teach people about it, but that’s all we can really do,” said Hansen.