Hemp Building Summit 2019

At Ology Essentials, we are interested in hemp for more than just CBD. On October 24th and 25th, the Hemp Building Summit was held in Ketchum Idaho. This event was put on by Mattie Mead and Tommy Gibbons of Hempitecture in conjunction with the US Hemp Building Association (USHBA). Among the attendees were two members of the Ology family, Will Cafaro and yours truly. 

Before going into the event, I think I will give a simplified anatomy lesson for those who are not familiar with the use of hemp beyond tinctures, topicals, edibles, and smokeables. The hemp plant is complex, but for the sake of this discussion, it is made up of the flower and the stem. The flower is the primary source of CBD and other cannabinoids. The stem is made up of an outer layer of long fibers called bast fibers, and an inner woody core which is called hurd, or shiv. The bast fibers are used to make a wide range of textiles. The hemp shiv can be mixed with lime and other binders to create materials used in construction. This use of hemp shiv was the focus of the Hemp Building Summit.

Hemp shiv and lime composites have been growing in use in building construction in Europe since the 1990’s. This material is commonly referred to as hempcrete, but this is a misnomer since it is not a replacement material for concrete and there are many discussions on popularizing other more appropriate terms. So far none have quite stuck. Since the legalization of hemp in the US, the construction of buildings with hemp has started to occur around the country. This event brought together a few hundred individuals who are driving the industry forward.

Now to the summit…I have attended many conferences and it is usually highlighted by a talk or two I am interested in, sprinkled with some hobnobbing with other industry professionals. This was different. Every speaker was interesting and exciting. They brought three of the most prominent industry leaders and authors of hemp construction from Europe and Canada; Alex Sparrow, Steve Allin, and Chris Magwood. The speakers included a researcher discussing his work on the variation in insulation properties of hemp shiv composites dependent on binder chemistry and researchers studying the health risks of current construction practices and benefits of hemp based construction as an alternative. There is too much information to cover in a short blog, but it was amazing. 

From Left to Right: Roman Vyskocil, Will Cafaro (Ology Essentials & Eternal Returns), Alex Sparrow (Owner of UK Hempcrete & author of The Hempcrete Book), and myself (Ology Essentials Co-Owner & COO).

The second day was a tour of three buildings made with hemp as one of the major components. It was amazing seeing these completed structures in person. It really brought together some discussions and topics from the previous days presenters. 

Then there were the attendees. This industry is a conglomeration of people with dreams of a better world. Everyone seemed open, and genuinely interested in being involved in the industry for the right reasons. Trying to corral this positive energy and motivation were the USHBA. The USHBA was established to bring the hemp building industry together, to help drive forward the movement for using the hemp plant for more sustainable and healthy construction. This event demonstrated the passion in the people that are motivated for the right reasons. My hope and belief is that the USHBA could help bring the understanding of the issues to the general public and make a greater impact on society. Together we can make a difference. 

There will be a follow up blog post on “Why should you use hemp in construction?” with more information I could not fit here.

Cheers to Mattie, Tommy, and the rest of the USHBA. Be More Pirate. 

To learn more about the USHBA and how you could become involved please visit, USHBA.org.

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