Hempcrete for Brooklyn Brownstone Extensions

We at Eco Brooklyn have been in love with Hempcrete – a mix of lime and hemp for walls – for years. A hempcrete wall provides strength, protection and insulation all in one.

Compared to stick and frame building it uses much less wood and is much more solid of a structure. A hempcrete home feels solid. And the soundproofing qualities are amazing.

The one drawback is that you do need a thicker wall – at least 12′. In space starved NYC this can be a problem. The wall doesn’t, however need any kind of finishing (sheet rock for example) so space is saved there.

We think a Hempcrete application is perfect for a brownstone extension. It is so much greener than the cinder blocks often used. And in terms of comfort it is unmatched. No air leaks or thermal bridges.

Eco Brooklyn is a New York Hempcrete installer. We feel that it has it’s place in the NY green building lexicon. More and more, though, the green building lexicon is simply becoming building lexicon. Green building makes sense.

We are eager to install more hempcrete walls. Even if it is just one wall that acts as a centerpiece, the visual beauty and tactile comfort of hempcrete is makes it practically a work of art. Optionally you can plaster the wall with clay, another beautiful material.

Check out this video on how a hempcrete wall is built. You will notice how very simple it is.

Are Illegal Drugs Green?

Are Illegal Drugs Green? The answer is no. Reason being anything that isn’t regulated is driven purely by monetary benefit without any rules or oversight. If you think big corporations are bad for polluting rivers, think what damage a large meth lab can do. Not only do they have a lot of chemicals to dispose of but they need to do it secretly – they aren’t going to pack the contaminants into barrells and send them off to an approved waste processing plant. They are going to dump it into a secluded river. “Secluded” being another word for no humans, meaning nature.

This occurred to me when I read the cool info on this Addiction Support site. They offer fantastic info on how drugs as they are made now are not sustainable.

Clear cutting forests in South America for Cocaine production. If stopping legal companies from destroying the rain forest is hard, it's almost impossible to stop illegal companies.

Clear cutting forests in South America for Cocaine production. If stopping legal companies from destroying the rain forest is hard, it’s almost impossible to stop illegal companies.

As a green builder in Brooklyn we work near the Gowanus Canal, a great example of what happens when waste is not regulated. Now we are paying for that big time. The millions they saved by using the canal as a dumping ground is many millions more that we have to pay to fix it. Thank’s guys! Next time just charge me a couple cents more for the product and do the right thing.

Gowanus-1851

The mouth of the Gowanus Canal 1851.

A much more strangled and destroyed Gowanus Canal in the 19th Century.

A much more strangled and destroyed Gowanus Canal in the 19th Century.

From an environmental point of view it is a lot healthier for our society to legalize drugs. Tax the hell out of them, regulate them up the wazoo and strictly control where, when and who can consume them. And most importantly, control how and where they are made. Are they clear cutting mountains and drenching them in illegal pesticides to grow that marijuana or are they growing it in low footprint warehouses using solar electricity and city waste-water?

Global Drug Routes. Hmmm...who's the biggest drug addict?

Global Drug Routes. Hmmm…who’s the biggest drug addict?

Parts of the US have been ravaged by illegal drug production. The local authorities admit they have absolutely no control over the gangs doing it. There is just too much area to cover, too much money and too much demand.

Parts of the US have been ravaged by illegal drug production, like the clear cutting for Marijuana growing in California above . The local authorities admit they have absolutely no control over the gangs doing it. There is just too much area to cover, too much money and too much demand.

People are not stupid. Well, that’s not true. Many are. But it is my experience from having three kids that working with them is much better than against.

Why is alcohol legal and other dangerous drugs aren’t? Makes no sense to me. Why is is totally legal for my six year old to light a fire in our fireplace and yet I can’t legally buy some pot to light up on my back porch? Trust me, my son lighting a fire is a million times more dangerous to society than my addled brain on pot could ever be.

And I don’t even like pot. I want this stuff legalized – and meth and LSD and crack – because I am a New York green builder and I understand that burning down tropical forests in Burma to grow opium is going to directly affect my life in the big apple.

I want to see sustainably grown opium in my corner store. I want it to be really expensive and I want the profits to go towards Addiction Counselling and a new swing set for my local park. Now that is something I could get high on.

Hemp Lime Hempcrete in New York

Hemp mixed with lime, aka hempcrete, is not concrete and thus needs structural support. It's main use is insulation and air sealing. In this photo it is stick frame. In the future we suspect somebody will find a way to make it structural. A skilled green builder could use this for NY extensions as well as insulating existing brick structures.

Hemp mixed with lime, aka hempcrete, is not concrete and thus needs structural support. It’s main use is insulation and air sealing. In this photo it is stick frame. In the future we suspect somebody will find a way to make it structural. A skilled green builder could use this for NY extensions as well as insulating existing brick structures.

My friend Jim Savage from Build Green just sent me his latest presentation on Hemp-Lime, also called Hempcrete. His company is gearing up to provide the New York area with hemp that is sourced on this continent. Us green contractors are very excited by this prospect.

Hemp is still imported from Europe where it is widely used in France as a building material with great success. But to import it to the US is not the most carbon friendly process. As a New York green builder the lack of hemp-lime installation in our services offered is a real pain. With Build Green’s efforts we are hopeful that hemp will soon become available more locally and more affordably.

When you mix hemp with lime it creates a wonderful substance that outperforms many of the current semi-structural insulation products available on the market, at an exponentially more ecological impact.

Please check out the brochure below. It outlines hemp-lime’s historical use and its many key benefits.

GreenBuilt_Eco-Brooklyn Hemp-Lime

Hemp grows quickly and as it does it absorbs massive amounts of CO2. When you cut it and put it into buildings you are sequestering that CO2.

Hemp grows quickly and as it does it absorbs massive amounts of CO2. When you cut it and put it into buildings you are sequestering that CO2.

Building Passive House with Hempcrete

One of the challenges we face when doing High Energy retrofits of NY masonry brownstones, by the Passive House standard for example,  is how to install insulation that will both be effective and maintain the historical integrity of the building. Most existing insulation materials have limited usefulness when installed on the interior of the envelope, due to condensation risk and potential freeze-thaw issues.

Enter Hempcrete. Hemp-lime insulation, due to its vapor permeability and the material’s virtual thermal mass, has proven to be an effective way to retrofit historic masonry buildings for improved insulation, and is now being used widely throughout Europe.

This opens up exciting possibilities for effective and affordable ecological renovations of New York’s many historical brick buildings.

Although well established in Europe, this technology is new to the USA. We have studied it a lot and Eco Brooklyn is eager to be a NY hempcrete installer. Since hempcrete can be either insulation or actually act as an insulating semi-structural material (like SIPs but without the plastic), we think that it offers a lot of options for high efficiency NY Brownstone renovations.