The First Permitted Hempcrete Structure in Denver

Left Hand Hemp knows there is a better way to build. Through hempcrete building workshops, they teach how to work with the renewable plant of hemp. Community members, students, hemp industry professionals and interested construction groups came together to help build an architecturally rendered, CO2 sequestering and fire-resistant building from “Hempcrete”.

Hempcrete consists of hemp hurd, lime and water. Here is what we did:

First, Architect Bob Escher with Escher Designs in Vermont and Homeowner Eric McKee came up with the design for the 16 x 20 workshop building.

Next, McKee talked to the city building code office about the properties and benefits of hempcrete and got an approval to build a 16 x 20 workshop space! A concrete base was laid and in three weeks, we would be ready to begin putting up the structure!

The General Contractor, Sawmill and Builder, Mark Cover from Forbes Road Sawmill put together the post and beam structure with wood from McKee’s family land in Pennsylvania. Beautiful 8 inch thick beams were milled and shipped to Denver. With the help of right hand man, Onefree Foster – the post and beam structure was up in just 2 and a half days!

Then the forming fun begins! We adjust the forms to the size you wish to have to the wall. and ceiling. There are some ares (such as the peak in the roof) that will need special size forms, just make sure it a consistent measurement. For this case, the forms were 8 inches wide on the walls and were made for 12 inches of hempcrete insulation on the roof. According to the book, an 8 inch wall could have an r-value of 5 per inch.  By building in a monolithic way, we are able to close any thermal gaps.

Then, we MIX! The simple recipe of hemp hurd, lime and water is used in this hempcrete insulation material. In a mortar mixer (not concrete mixer) we mixed together Saint Asterie Hydraulic Lime, Ole Dominion Hemp Hurd and water.

We had teams mixing and packing in the forms. The mixing team tested each batch to ensure we reached our medium density goal. Once the batch was ready (about 5 minutes in mixer) we gave it to the packing team. When packing in the forms with the hempcrete mix, it is important to remember to firmly pack every corner and crevice.

We replaced fiberglass and other noxious insulation with hempcrete.

We replaced the need for drywall which eventually will off-gas by using hempcrete instead.

We replaced the need for toxic paint with an Earth-dye and natural plaster.

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Hempcrete packed in wall form.
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The crew packing in the hempcrete mix into the first wall!
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This brand new mortar mixer worked perfect with the light hempcrete blend

Living the Hemp life from sun up to sun down

Living the Hemp life from sun up to sun down

Hemp has infiltrated my life in every way and I highly recommend incorporating the wonder plant into YOUR life.

But where do you begin?

Step 1: Eat hemp. Hemp seed has more protein per ounce than salmon. It is the most easily digestible plant protein that has iron, magnesium, essential fatty acids and omegas! Hemp seed, hemp oil, hemp protein powder make up various snacks and meals made and they are delicious! A few of my favorites are: Hemp Way Foods, Hemp Heroe, Evo Hemp, Good Seed Burger and Sustainabutter.

Step 2: Vote with your dollars. If you really want to see hemp help the economy, agriculture industry and green energy movement, you need to buy stuff to help it! Stop buying Chinese cotton and plastic and buy hemp clothing and hemp plastic! Industrial hemp truly has the capability of: making natural medicine to heal our bodies, replacing petroleum with bio-fuel to run our machines, shift from harmful building methods to all natural ones, revitalize our depleted farm lands AND replace plastic, cotton and traditional wood paper.

Step 3: Get involved. This is the toughest one. I know we are all forced to chase that arbitrary paper dollar on the daily, but until we break free from that cycle, you must work hard to fit in time for things that benefit your well-being. I recommend finding time to get involved with hemp supporters and see how you can help.
If you live in state where hemp cultivation is not yet legal, get involved in rule making processes, connect with the department of Agriculture (or whatever program oversees the farming of hemp), gather an interested network of sustainability supporters and work to get hemp mainstream an legalized. There are many association and groups across the country. Check out the National Hemp Association and the Hemp Industries Association to find out more about who’s involved in states across the US.
If hemp is already legal in your state, grow it! There are endless possibilities and products to be made from hemp. Find a product that you enjoy making and sell the shit out of it to your community. If you can’t grow it, volunteer with a farmer who is, intern for a company who’s just begun or offer your time to learn more about this upcoming industry in the US.

Step 4: Meditate. With all the noise in the world today, take 20 minutes a day to turn off your mind and let it connect with your Chakras. The answers to questions and problems will come with ease when you are open to receiving them. Love is the answer to creating a better world. Find your voice, take care of yourself and love.

If you want to read more from Alexandra check out her blog here.

Hempcrete Seminars Summer 2017

Hempcrete is said to be the greatest building material on Earth and here is your chance to learn how to build with it! Industrial Hemp is one of the most sustainable crops to grow because it pulls toxins from the air and soil and farmers love the way it renders the soil cleaner and with more nutrients than before it was planted, unlike corn, soy and wheat which often leaves the ground depleted of nutrients. The average estimate of 2-3 acres of hemp crop provide enough material to build a 1,500 sq. ft. hempcrete home!

The porous properties from the hemp hurd (broken up stalk) makes any properly built hempcrete structure an excellent humidity controller and will render the building flame, mold and pest resistant! Yes, you “hurd” that correctly! Hemp is a natural building material that requires no toxic materials in its growing or building process.

The founder Kelly Thornton first learned about sustainable building materials through strawbale construction. After learning about hemp has even better properties than straw, he knew hemp construction could be a game changer for communities across the world. Which is why this summer, the company will be teaching seminars across the country and three different workshops on Native American Reservations.

The owners and teachers at Left Hand Hemp are looking for individuals that want to learn more about the properties and building process of hempcrete. Learn about the workshops here

Because it is a fairly new concept to this country, many folks don’t know how it works until they get their hands in it. “We know hempcrete is the best building material on Earth, we want to teach everyone how to build with it so that they can take the knowledge with them.”

What can you expect from attending a workshop? Expect to leave with enough resources to build your own home and the knowledge to teach others how to build in their community. By working hand-on with the materials, students will feel the properties and characteristics of the material and will learn how to properly build.

Left Hand Hemp will be conducting hempcrete seminars all summer long. The seminars will include a week full of hempcrete education by participating in every aspect of the construction of a structure from mixing to building, participants will walk away with a head full of knowledge about the natural building material of hempcrete. Seminars in Fort Berthold, North Dakota, the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota and the Taos Pueblo tribe in Taos, New Mexico will encompass the traditional ways of the Native land and welcome 30 for each workshop to sign up to attend!

If you are interested in attending or hosting a workshop, contact us at lefthandhemp@gmail.com or go here to sign up.