The Green, Green Grass That's Home

The Green, Green Grass That's Home
Posted by CN Staff on June 13, 2003 at 21:42:04 PT
By David Taylor
Source: Daily Telegraph UK
It's barely legal, but hemp is here to stay - as a low-cost, environmentally friendly building material. David Taylor meets a family putting it to the test. Jessee Mulcock has heard them all in the year she has lived in her new house: "You'd have to be dopey to live there." And "Hope your chip pan doesn't go up - the fire engine wouldn't be able to get through all the hippies standing downwind." And "If you run out of booze, you can always smoke some of the wall insulation . . . "
Being the butt of such feeble jokes is the price Jessee has to pay for living in a house made almost entirely out of Cannabis sativa - hemp, for short. And, let's face it, that does sound rather like a dope-smoker's equivalent of Hansel and Gretel's gingerbread house."Yes, we've had a lot of jokes, but at least when people find out what it's about, they stop laughing. They're interested," she says.Jessee, 26, and her six-year-old son, Vincent, are willing guinea pigs in an experiment to test the environmental, technical and economic benefits of using hemp as a building material. Her house, and the one next door, which is also made of hemp, have been built in the Suffolk town of Haverhill for social housing provider Suffolk Housing Society. The idea of using hemp came from the architect, Ralph Carpenter of local firm Modece Architects, who believes that this fast-growing crop could offer a cheap, sustainable and effective alternative to traditional building materials."I found out about it through my brother Stuart who at the time was working for Hemcore [the UK's largest processor of hemp]. He told me about a hemp-based material which is made in France and used for building," explains Mr Carpenter.The qualities of hemp fibre are well known. It was the first choice for rope before the advent of man-made fibres and it still makes the best quality paper. But the plant's role in the illegal drugs trade suppressed its legitimate use for most of the 20th century, even though commercially grown hemp contains only negligible amounts of the psychoactive drug THC.In recent years, however, pressure from industry has led to a relaxation of the laws governing the cultivation of hemp with the result that it has bounced back and found its way into a range of new products, from clothing and cosmetics to ice-cream.Today, hemp's environmental sustainability is a major selling point. It is easy to grow, even on poor soil, and is ready to harvest in just four months. Like all plants, it absorbs carbon dioxide - the main "greenhouse" gas - from the atmosphere as it grows and, because it requires very little energy to process, it can help save money, conserve fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.The French material used in the construction of Jessee's house is called Isochanvre, a by-product of fibre production consisting of the pith and sap processed to minimise its biodegradability. Mixed with hydraulic lime and water to bind it together, Isochanvre is packed into timber formwork and left to solidify like concrete.It is an easy material to work with and requires fewer skills than building in brick. Its good insulating properties mean that no wall cavity is needed, and its resistance to moisture means that the walls can sit on a ground-floor slab cast in the same hemp-and-lime mixture without the need for a damp-proof membrane. The two hemp houses at Haverhill are built around timber frames with the hemp mixture used as in-fill between the timber beams and columns.The houses form part of a development of 18 properties on the site and are flanked on either side by two similar houses built with traditional materials. These provide a benchmark against which scientists from the Building Research Establishment in Watford can assess the hemp houses.The first hemp house took almost twice as long to build as the equivalent brick houses, mainly because the contractor had to learn how to use the unfamiliar materials from scratch. "But once they got the hang of it, they were very fast," says Ralph Carpenter. "The second hemp house was quicker to build than the conventional brick ones."In terms of its performance, the hemp material seems just as good as brick-and-block construction, according to the BRE's preliminary report to Suffolk Housing Society. Jessee, though oblivious to the science involved, confirms: "It's warm and dry and comfortable, and it has a lovely rustic feel to it, even though it's a new house," she says.One unexpected benefit of the hemp material is its acoustic behaviour. Slightly quieter, according to BRE measurements, than the conventional houses, the hemp/lime mixture seems to deaden sounds within the building. "The acoustic properties have a noticeable calming effect," says Mr Carpenter. As the material is more "breathable" than modern gypsum plaster, the hemp houses also suffer less condensation than their conventional counterparts.Liz Garrod, the BRE's project co-ordinator at Haverhill, is impressed by the hemp houses but confesses herself puzzled by the material itself: "I don't know how they process it, but it looks just like the Hutch Hemp I use for my rabbit's bedding." Laboratory tests bear out the fire- and rot-resistance claims, and Ms Garrod says her own experiments at home with Hutch Hemp have yielded comparable results.Whatever the special properties of Isochanvre, Ms Garrod thinks hemp could have a bright future as a building material. "I like houses made out of natural materials, and this is very sustainable and can be recycled," she says. "It's faster to use than some of the traditional building methods, like cob and rammed earth, which are also becoming popular again."As for Jessee, she has nothing but praise for hemp: "When I moved out of my old first-floor flat on the other side of town, all I wanted was a house. But when I learned about this project, I really wanted to be a part of it. External Links:  Hemcore: UK: Architects: Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)Author: David TaylorPublished: June 14, 2003Copyright: 2003 Telegraph Group LimitedContact: dtletters CannabisNews Hemp Archives
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on June 14, 2003 at 16:49:23 PT
Once Again...
for the newbies...SHADOW OF THE SWASTIKA - The Real Reason the Government Won't Debate Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Re-legalization:
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on June 14, 2003 at 07:30:59 PT
US AL: Teen's Drug Sentence Cut From 26 Years To 2 year old, Webster Alexander's update...
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on June 14, 2003 at 07:24:50 PT
What's next?
Marc Emery stands up to pot-snatching cops by Reverend Damuzi (13 Jun, 2003) Pot-smoking protest planned for June 19 at Toronto Police Station Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, invites Ontario residents to join him in protest on the sidewalk in front of the Toronto Police Department at 40 College Street West, where he will defiantly smoke joints next Thursday, June 19 at 4:20 pm."We want the people of Ontario to know that they can smoke pot anywhere, even in front of police should they want to," said Emery.He points to inconsistencies between the decisions of the courts (CC online, Marijuana legal in Ontario) and the actions of cops still high on enforcement. On May 16, the Ontario Supreme Court ruled that the province's laws against pot possession were invalid, and on June 2 an Ontario provincial court dismissed 90 cases of marijuana possession charges in the space of 22 minutes."Now, Toronto police say that they won't charge anyone for pot, but they will still take it away from you," said Emery. "How can they take it away if there are no laws against possessing it? I'm certainly not going to give them my pot. They'll have to take it by force, but they can't do that without arresting or charging someone, and there is no law to arrest or charge anyone with."
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on June 14, 2003 at 07:02:51 PT
that related article is appreciated......crystals in hemp seed oil?THC is the most important crystal known to man, isn't it? The THC crystal goes beyond what money and oil will ever do. Within the THC crystal, You can have a helper for You to know Christ God Our Father, the Ecologician, who will lend You His ear... when You lend Him, Yours.The trees, plants & HERBS, have Biblical personality. Read how the KJV Bible puts personality into the phrasing of the plants with the word "HIS" given to the herbs, etc.I have said in the past, that through Christ God, the world has gone through a process of evolution, which goes beyond man evolving from animal, but in fact, man has evolved from plants, before that. PLANTS ARE OUR ANCESTORS.Genesis 1 (THE 1ST PAGE)11  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after HIS kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after HIS kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after HIS kind: and God saw that it was good. Man hasn't even begun to comprehend the power of the THC crystal.Crystals like animals, grow and are alive. Both contain energy. May this day, set Me in motion...God wanted wanted to hide His secrets in a secure place. “Would I put them on the moon, He relfected. “But then, one day human beings could get there, and it could be that those who would arrive there would not be worthy of the secret knowledge. Or perhaps I should hide them int hte depths of the ocean.” God entertained another possibility. But, again, for the same reasons, He dismissed it. Then the solution occurred to Him ... I shall put My secrets in the inner sanctum of mans’ own mind. Then only those who really deserve it will be able to get to it.” Benny Shanon – Entheogens – Reflections on Psychoactive Sacrimentals.That read on page 90, (page 6 of 10 on the screen) also has a very insightful reflection on the tree of knowledge, ... Last but not least is the story of the tree of knowledge...
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 13, 2003 at 22:14:03 PT
It really is an uplifting article. Like Jack Herer said: Hemp Can Save The World!I hope Virgil is ok too.
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on June 13, 2003 at 22:03:04 PT
sounds great
its like Habitat for Humanity man thats cool. The indians have been stoped from growing -- this could be of help to many people --- Former President Carter has been a big supporter of H.for H. for years and he has a seed bank in Alanta GA. someone please see if he has Hemp in that seed bank. 
------hope Virgil is ok----
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 13, 2003 at 21:53:10 PT
Related Article from The Daily Telegraph UK
Hidden Secrets of The Dreaded WeedJune 14, 2003The Isochanvre manufacturing process is a closely guarded secret said to involve crystallisation of the silica-rich hemp sap at low temperature, using very little energy and without the use of additives. The result is a rot-proof, fire-resistant, lightweight and strong substance which is unpalatable to vermin.Architect Ralph Carpenter admits that it all sounds too good to be true: "It is alchemy. The mineralisation process means the material remains vegetable but is not biodegradable . . . I know because I've had some in my compost heap for four years and it still hasn't rotted down," he says.The material's inventor is every bit as enigmatic as her product. According to Mr Carpenter, France Perier (named by her parents in defiance of the German occupying forces during the Second World War) worked as a rural midwife and field radiologist until she developed skin cancer. She cured herself with a mysterious preparation containing hemp oil. "She realised that crystals in the hemp oil must have had some beneficial effect and that's what encouraged her to explore its properties," says Mr Carpenter.Whatever the curative properties of hemp, they are unlikely to influence its use as a building material. What might make a difference, though, is the plant's affordability and low environmental impact. There's nothing mysterious about that.Copyright: 2003 Telegraph Group Limited
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