3rd International HEMP Building Symposium, 16-17 Oct 2012 YVERDON-LES-BAINS, CH

22 Oct

The third year of the symposium is over. Every year there is more and more people attending, as the hemp building industry is growing. It was very good insight into what is happening around the globe with speakers from Swiss, France, Belgium, Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Finland, South Africa, New Zealand and interesting project from Tasmania.

Tamped Hemcrete

I arrived into Yverdon after 30 hours of traveling from Ireland just in the morning before start of the event. Being in Yverdon I realized that I didn’t note address of the event. Things got complicated when I wanted to pay for parking and my money was useless. After leaving 3 franks with the bank for exchange of 60 Eur I could finally sit to have coffee and Internet. Another bad surprise when my European adapter was useless as well. All this trouble and I wasn’t any closer to the event. There was a promotion of Maison du Nord company in the city center. They were building a small timber frame house using hemp lime just for the show. None of them was speaking any English and their boss wasn’t picking up the phone. He was just having a speech as I found out later. Still where I was on the beginning when I met the Belgians. Language barrier was broken and we moved  to HEIG-VD where the symposium already started. After another delay with parking I finally joined the conference.

Professor Dominique Bolliger from HEIG VD was talking about their research in recycling concrete. He pointed out that recycled agregate is just as good as any other aggregate. For industrial and large office building, roads and bridges there is no substitute for it. For building of our homes we need porous natural materials. As after coffee break Dr Mike Lawrence from Bath university explained. They did a vast research on hemp and there was no negative properties of hemp to talk about. Along with the standard thermal performance of materials (conductivity, specific heat capacity,thermal diffusivity, vapor permeability, absorption/desorption) there are other properties of vapor active materials like hemp. They can act as a hygric buffer by absorption / desorption of moisture. This is creating a steady humidity level indoors. Virtual thermal mass is another interesting research and we went into microscopic structure of hemp to understand. Next was Andy Kent with his research on Haverhill project. He was trying to compare performance of 2 standart brick cavity houses and 2 hemp and lime houses. The hemp houses were build as a part of social housing development 12 years ago and were one of the first commercially build hempcrete houses in Britain. Interviews with tenant showed that they are happy in their houses and there is no problems with condensation. There were few difficulties with this research due to missing data and differences of tenants behavior and airtightness of buildings. Also the builders were not experienced with building with hemcrete.

Sprayed Hemcrete

We had nice buffet lunch and next we went to city centre to see public demonstration of hemp building. We walked few minutes to see great example of using hemp lime for renovation. Maison du Nord used hemp lime to insulate 5 storey building of public school. There is no plaster used on top instead they treated the walls with mix of crushed red brick and linseed oil. We seen one more hemp lime project and then bus brough us for a great dinner in the mountains.
Steve Allin started the next day with a speech about work of International Hemp Building Association on developing the system for climatic variations for renovation or new build projects using hemp. After Paolo Ronchetti shared with us success of establishing hemp industry in Italy. For this he was using open source tools from Natural step called Framework for strategic sustainable development. He explained approach of backcasting instead of forecasting. At the momend they are showing a life sized hemp house on the biggest construction fair in Italy. Next was presentation of Timea Dudok from Carmeuse. She showed us hemp development in Hungary. Then we seen a presentation of Purity Homes from New Zealand. They are offering a healthy homes alternative for the concrete houses destroyed by earthquake in Christchurch. There is need to build a hemp processing plant for this. Next was Ronnie Kilman from Sweden. His company Vivere wants to provide cleanest indoor air in their hemp houses. He mentioned one book I would like to read – Cannabis: A history (2005). His presantation was followed by Denis Sommain from Vicat. This French company started to make cement in 1853 and now they developed natural prompt cement.It is fired at same temperature as lime and it is not slacken but ground. The mineral composition is similar to lime.

To digest all this information we had again very nice lunch.
Opening presentation was Pittet Artisans from Switzerland talked about renovation works and plastering using gypsum and hemp. Their mixture has no shrinkage during setting, highly breathable, easiness of application and very good key with any surface. Next speech was Wolf Jordan from Belgium and he started with the explanation of limestone to lime to limestone cycle. He was talking about advantages of using hydrated lime in hemcrete. Hydrated lime has super fine particles and it works great with micro pores of hemp hurds. The finer the particle is the less binder we need and also process of carbonation is faster. He developed `Halei` an additive into hemcrete. After Antoine Gornik from French company Euromiar presented their spray technology for hemcrete. The Symposium program was closed by Michal Ruman from Czech company Konopa.cz. He showed his workshops for hemp renovation of historical buildings. He also presented very interesting Hemp house project from Czech republic.

Steve and his hemcrete spray machine

The symposium was again a big success and shows that Hemp industry is growing around the world. Many thanks to IHBA and mainly to Steve Allin and Aia Allin!

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