Green Daze: Hemp House Becomes South Africa's Most Sustainable Building

Jun 27, 2011
The Hemp House: the most sustainable home in South Africa. (Photo: Inhabitat)

South Africa has tapped into the eco-mine of sustainable building material: hemp.

Tony Budden, an avid hemp advocate in South Africa, has been on the hemp soapbox for years—the versatile superplant can be converted into countless materials, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, and fuel.

Budden paired up with Dutch architect Erwin van der Weerd from Perfect Places to construct South Africa’s first hemp house in Noordhoek. Construction was completed this month.

This house is no unassuming, down-to-earth cannabis shack. The luxurious seven-room abode is considered South Africa’s most sustainable home.

The purpose of the house, reports Inhabitat, is to convince the South African government to remove legal obstacles for the commercial development of hemp. The country's authorities do not currently distinguish between hemp and the “dagga” plant, or marijuana.

The overarching goal for Tony Budden and architectural firm Perfect Places was to ensure the house had the smallest possible carbon footprint. Unfortunately, explains Inhabitat, most of the materials for the Hemp House had to be imported since hemp is not available locally in South Africa.

Hemp appears in the structure of the home's walls in two different forms: as Hempcrete and as an insulating cushion in the walls made of reclaimed wood, states a project description on Perfect Places’ website. Hempcrete is a breathable building material made of hemp, lime, and water.

Sunny and green inside South Africa&39;s Hemp House. (Photo: Inhabitat)

Because the U.S. Green Building Council reports that buildings account for roughly 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in America, developing and incorporating more sustainable building materials and methods is therefore a worthwhile ambition.

Tradical, a developer of sustainable building materials, claims that hemp can be a helpful ally in the struggle to combat climate change. Hemp stores carbon during its growth period and, in turn, releases oxygen. Captured carbon is stored within the fabric of Hempcrete walls.

85% of the home's furniture and cabinets are also made from hemp, reports Inhabitat.

Other eco-features: The home is passively cooled and heated, uses solar energy, and all of the grey and black water is recycled.

If all goes according to plan, this green monster of sustainability will convince South African authorities to lighten up when it comes to hemp.

Quick Study: Green Living

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