BUILDERS are using a species of cannabis to build a house to be showcased later this month during Bendigo’s Sustainable House Day.
Deane Belfield is building his Muckleford home with hemp, a non-hallucinogenic variety of cannabis used in Europe for medicine, oil and animal bedding.
The hemp is mixed with lime and water to create walls a foot thick.
Mr Belfield said the mixture creates a chemical reaction that will keep drawing carbon out of the atmosphere as it fully cures, a process that will continue long after people move in.
“You can do it with other plants, I’m sure. The thing about hemp is that it grows quickly, doesn’t require any chemicals and is vigorous,” he said.
Mr Belfield said hempcrete is a very good insulator.
His house combined the material with other passive design features. He is still to finish the build but believes the home will need minimal heating and cooling to stay at roughly 20 degrees all year.
“Hempcrete itself vermin-proof, robust, flexible and strong, so it’s quite an extraordinary product,” he said.
Mr Belfield plans to show his house off online later this month during Bendigo’s Sustainable House Day.
The virtual event will take place on October 25 and showcase central Victorian builds including passive solar, mud brick and timbercrete.
Mr Belfield encouraged people to get in touch if they would like to know more about hempcrete and to experiment with the product before tackling their own builds.
“The way we’d like to see the industry evolve is would be for it to remain relatively informal,” he said.
“You hear about someone, you register for a workshop that might cost a few hundred bucks to cover overheads, turn up for a day and lend a hand. Then, what has gone around will come around.”
Mr Belfield is among the few importing hemp building material into Australia right now, though he hopes that local growers will soon cut out a larger portion of the market.
Australia’s medicinal cannabis industry in particular is steadily growing, including potentially in Heathcote where a business has asked the City of Greater Bendigo for permission to create a farm.