Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hempcrete: WA company DecoHousing to build Denmark village out of ‘kitty litter’


Hempcrete has been praised for its strength as well as its fireprooof capabilities.
Hempcrete has been praised for its strength as well as its fireprooof capabilities. Photo: Hempcrete Australia website

An idea, emerging from the unusual location of the cat litter tray, is set to put the sleepy town of Denmark on the map – as a leader in environmentally friendly living.

DecoHousing is set to begin construction on Western Australia’s first eco-village, with the 12 planned dwellings set to be built partly using hempcrete.

Hempcrete is a product that has been commonly used throughout Europe as a lightweight and thermally efficient construction material.

The plot earmarked for a new eco-village in Denmark. Photo: DecoHousing Facebook

It’s a result of combining the innards of the hemp plant stem with lime, forming a super-lightweight material that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Previously the hemp innards were a product used as little more than filler for the cat litter tray, but the addition of lime has turned it into a sustainable building material.

DecoHousing project manager Paul Llewellyn said the Denmark eco-village was continuing a life’s experiment to try to live a sustainable life on the Western Australian coast.

“We wanted to use hempcrete as a high-performance building material that ticked all the boxes for sustainability,” Mr Llewellyn said.

“Hempcrete’s been used to build houses on the east coast of Australia and the hempcrete industry is thriving in the south of France, but this will be the first major project in Western Australia.

“Although it makes a fantastic cat litter, there is only so much use for cat litter.”

Mr Llewellyn said the qualities of hempcrete include high thermal performance and acoustic function, termite resistance and fireproof capabilities.

“If we can demonstrate its ability on a large scale we would like to see the construction industry set up to build around hempcrete. It’s the direction European countries are moving in,” he said.

“We are always a bit behind those countries when it comes to moving forward in sustainable construction, but the industry desperately needs sustainability built into it.”

DecoHousing’s community liaison Pam Rumble said the eco-village would bring people from all walks of life together, particularly those who often found themselves isolated from society.

“With co-housing we get together with like minded people and we have fun together,” she said

“This way of living can prevent the isolation of older people and the isolation of young mothers with children.”

Mr Llewellyn said the Denmark eco-village could be a model for a full suite of sustainable living projects across Western Australia.

He said the building industry needed to take steps to become more environmental.

“Our houses at the moment are a liability — they’re inexpensive and they’re inefficient,” Mr Llewellyn said.

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