My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
Western Australia’s first hemp home has been completed in Margaret River, as its builder revealed he has another three hemp building projects underway in the South-West.
Gary Rogers finished the state’s revolutionary hemp house in early March after almost eight months construction, using material known as ‘hempcrete’.
A traditional builder, Rogers says he is self-taught on hemp construction, drawing knowledge and inspiration from a handful of hemp builders in the eastern states and overseas.
A keen environmental sustainability advocate, he decided to try his hand with hempcrete, saying it creates a healthy living environment and reduces the house’s carbon footprint.
“Once I really looked into building with hempcrete, I realised that we have to make a stand sooner or later,” Rogers says.
Rogers says hemp walls are termite resistant. Picture: Hemp Homes Australia
“I mean, 65% of the world’s carbon emissions are made from building products and 25% of our landfill is basically from us building – leftover materials and we dig a hole and we put it in. We just can’t sustain the way we have been going.”
As part of the hemp building process, the plant’s woody stem is shredded, mixed with a lime render and encased inside a timber frame.
In just 14 weeks, enough hemp can be grown by a licensed grower to construct a three bedroom, one bathroom home. He says the price points are similar to building conventional homes.
Hemp walls are termite resistant, fireproof, breathable, prevent mould, store carbon and reduce the need for heating and cooling, because hemp is a thermal insulator.
“With a hemp home, the walls actually control the temperature and the breathability so it should remain between 11 and 14 degrees Celsius,” Rogers says.
The walls can be sealed in casein, a protein from cow’s milk, or pea and corn starch.
The bathroom inside the hemp house. Picture: Hemp Homes Australia
A natural render made from crushed quartz and silica was used to seal the exterior of the Margaret River house.
Rogers says France has been building hemp homes for four decades and some European countries, including Germany, are now using hemp insulation.
“It’s natural, it’s clean and sooner or later, I think we just have to move down this path and change the way we build,” he says.
“What you are actually creating is a very, very healthy home.”
“France has been using this system for the last 40 years, so basically what we are doing is bringing it over here and presenting an alternative to say: ‘Look, we don’t need our double-brick home’.
“It’s not rocket science, it’s about working together and nutting it out to make this mainstream. It’s moving away from your owner-hippy kind of people to clients who I’m pricing full architectural homes for. Whether it’s going to be seen to be green I don’t know, but it’s a start. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Processed hemp has to be imported now but could be grown locally in the future. Picture: Hemp Homes Australia
Rogers says processed hemp needs to be imported from the eastern states or Europe at the moment because there are only a few local growers.
“We’ve got the best country in the world to grow this. The more we grow, the cheaper the housing will get and we will also produce a lot of jobs,” he says.
“It’s an Australian industry right here, it’s sitting on our doorstep.”
Rogers operates Hemp Homes Australia, owns the Margaret River Hemp Co, which sells clothing, toiletries, fabrics and food made from hemp, and has been involved in the hemp industry for 16 years.