First US House Built with Hemp Completed

(CANVAS STAFF REPORTS) – The first house made out of hemp has been built in the United States, filling what advocates say is a need for more green building materials.

USA Today reported the home was completed this summer in Asheville, N.C., and two more are in the works. While such homes have been built over the past two decades in Europe, Hemp Technologies co-founder David Madera told the newspaper that they are new to the United States.

The building material Hemcrete had to be imported because hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana, which is illegal to grow in the United States. Inhabitat.com said Hemcrete is made from hemp, lime and water and can be used for a variety of applications including wall and flooring construction and roof insulation.

The 3,400-square-foot Push House, designed and built by Anthony Brenner, also has interior walls made from recycled paper. Inhabitat said another feature is 30 window frames that have been salvaged and fitted with high tech glass, placed in such a way that the most daylight can enter without overheating the house.

Madera, whose company supplied the hemp stalks, lime and water mixture, said the hemp-filled walls are non-toxic, mildew-resistant, pest-free and flame-resistant.

The website Green Building Elements said the home costs about $100 a month to heat and cool. Former Asheville mayor Russ Martin and his wife, Karon Korp, own the home and told the Huffington Post that it cost $130 per square foot to build. That includes the cost of importing the hemp.

Such homes reflect people’s increasing desire to make homes both energy-efficient and healthy. Brenner told USA Today that he started searching for non-toxic materials because he wants to build a health-friendly home for his daughter, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that makes her sensitive to chemicals and prone to seizures if she is around anything synthetic.

The newspaper said the second hemp house in Asheville is expected to be finished in about six weeks. Builder Clarke Snell told USA Today that he expects it to meet Passive House Institute standards that call for homes to use up to 90 percent less energy than traditional houses.