Hemp houses are smoking hot in eco-design

Louise Loik | Bowen Island Undercurrent
hemp house
The first prototype tiny hemp house, built by HNB in Alberta in 2014. Above: A hemp house can fit into almost any setting. photos supplied by Hempcrete.ca   Photo by hempcrete.ca

Cannabis is big news these days, and 15 years ago, Jayeson Hendyrsan was already using it in mass amounts – in the industrial hemp version.

Hendyrsan has been building homes with hemp, a non-narcotic strain of cannabis. “I was a bit naive when I started out,” says Hendyrsan. “I heard that the police in town were burning marijuana they’d seized from drug dealers,” he continues, recalling that he went up and asked if he could have the stalks assuming that they would be similar enough to the industrial hemp he was bringing from Alberta. “The cops looked at me like I was joking when I told them I wanted to build a house with it.”

Not surprisingly, he didn’t get the hemp. The kind of hemp that he uses in construction is the same kind that was being used extensively in fabric manufacturing prior to the arrival of synthetic fabric, and specifically, polyester. Hemp oil and hemp seeds are mainstream products in grocery stores and for industrial uses, though hemp houses aren’t quite so common.

The attraction to the material for Hendyrsan is that it is strong, enduring, and ecologically logical and cost effective. 

“This is very inexpensive relative to other construction,” says Kim Brooks, Hempcrete CEO. She and Hendyrsan live in their second Bowen Island Hempcrete home whose thick walls are rich in mineral-based colours, from cinnamon to saffron to sage and blue. The two will be hosting a two-week intensive building workshop May 9-20 on location.

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