Kirmse and Galvin ordered 52 bales of hemp shiv and 78 bags of lime binder to make about 265 cubic feet of hempcrete through American Lime Technology, which also has supplied the material to projects in Wisconsin, Idaho and Florida.
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The paper is separated from the hempcrete by a small air channel per Kirmse and Galvin’s request.
“The trick was to do that but also still get the benefit of the breathability of the wall,” said Kirmse, a native of Germany who runs an eco-friendly online gift shop.
“We were told that once this is permitted once in California, it will be a lot easier for the next project.”But Building and Safety Division spokesman Bob Spencer said it should be noted that the hempcrete was permitted in this case as an insulator, not as a structural material.“We determined that the material meets all required county building codes for this type of in-fill and approved the use in this case,” he said.
Although a handful of hempcrete buildings exist in the United States, it was illegal to grow hemp until six months ago because it comes from the same plant species as marijuana.
Now the plant is federally legal to grow for research purposes.
The hemp making up Kirmse and Galvin’s insulation came from a U.
K.-based company called Lime Technology, adding 7 in shipping costs, about 15 percent of the costs of the materials, to a project they say would have cost about the same as a traditional one otherwise.
Chicago-based American Lime Technology, which is part of the U. company, estimates hempcrete construction costs 10 to 20 percent more than similar conventional projects, but that the difference is largely due to the shipping costs, which could be avoided if hemp were allowed to be grown locally.
Under a hot sun amid the sounds of a concrete mixer, Beate Kirmse and her husband, Bern Galvin, lined up in the backyard of their Rolling Hills home to lend a hand in the construction of their future living room. Wood chip-like shreds of hemp shiv — the core of hemp stems — were mixed with water and a lime-based binder to produce a sustainable building material called hempcrete.
Layer by layer, Kirmse, Galvin and a handful of volunteers poured buckets of the dry mixture into wooden forms within wall frames.
In a few days, they will reveal what is believed to be the first permitted use of hempcrete in the state.