Podcast

Hempcrete And Sustainable Construction With Mattie Meade

Hempcrete And Sustainable Construction With Mattie Meade
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 00:41:55
 
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What is hempcrete and how can it be a part of sustainable construction in the near future? What’s getting in the way of this great building material’s acceptance?

In this episode of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, our host Matt recaps 2019’s year-in-hemp news and then sits down for a conversation with CEO and founder of Hempitecture, Mattie Mead. The two discuss Mattie’s history, his belief in renewable construction and hempcrete’s present and future.

Show notes

Early in the podcast, Matt mentions these key takeaways from the 2019 Hemp Industry Daily Forum.

We’ve also written quite a bit before about hempcrete, including how hempcrete is used in Australia, the benefits of hempcrete homes and even a unique hempcrete doghouse. In the video above, we profiled the Highland Hemp House, a unique retrotfit of a 1970s home with hempcrete.

Over at Hemp Magazine, our Editor Kit wrote about the issues blocking hempcrete’s acceptance in the U.S., including his interview with Mattie Mead. We also mentioned Just BioFiber, the awesome Canadian company making hemp-based building blocks for life-sized buildings.

Sponsored by LifePatent

Thanks to our friends at LifePatent, one of our Top CBD Brands, for sponsoring this episode of the Ministry of Hemp Podcast. Check out their site now to try free samples of their great sleep capsules.

Send us your feedback!

We want to hear from you too. Send us your questions and you might hear them answered on future shows like this one! Send us your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, email [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417. Keep in mind, this phone number is for hemp questions only and any other inquiries for the Ministry of Hemp should be sent to [email protected].

Hempcrete, made from the core of the hemp plant, could be an essential ingredient in sustainable building in the near future. Photo: Raw hempcrete made from finely chopped up cores (hurds) of hemp plants.
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Hempcrete, made from the core of the hemp plant, could be an essential ingredient in sustainable building in the near future.

Hempcrete And The Future of Sustainable Construction: Complete episode transcript

Below you’ll find the complete written transcript for this episode:

Matt Baum: The Ministry of Hemp Podcast is brought to you by Life Patent, purveyors of high-quality CBD products that just happen to be one of our favorite brands, too. They care very deeply about their customers because when it comes down to it, Life Patent understands their customers are people seeking relief. You can learn more about the entire line of CBD-related products at lifepatent.com.

Matt Baum: Welcome to Episode 24 of the Ministry of Hemp Podcast. My name is Matt Baum, and I am your host. Folks, this is the final show of 2019. Today on the show, we are going to continue our theme of hemp as an alternative. Last time you might remember I spoke to Morris Beegle from We Need a Better Alternative about hemp woods and hemp plastics.

Matt Baum: Today we’re going to talk with Mattie Mead from Hempitecture. They are working with a very exciting concrete alternative called, you guessed it, hempcrete. We’ll get into all that in just a minute. But, first, with this being the final show of the year and, oh, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at hemp, a year in review 2019.

2019: The year in hemp

Matt Baum: You probably heard me talk about it plenty of times on this show, but as I’m sure you know, 2018 we saw the US farm bill that essentially legalized the growing of hemp in the United States. It made 2019 a very exciting year for hemp. 2019 marked the first American legal harvests of hemp in the US, and with that came a spike in interest in the plant itself, not just for CBD but like we’ve been talking about, alternatives in construction, alternatives in fabric, alternatives in paper.

Matt Baum: We saw the hemp market hit a billion dollars. We saw CEOs of hemp companies popping up on Forbes 30 Under 30 list that they put out every year. There’s been a lot of new studies released showing that CBD really is helping people with things like pain and anxiety and homeostasis, which we are finding out is more important than ever.

Matt Baum: With that, we’ve seen the rise of thousands of new CBD-based shops opened by small business owners, who are doing the hard work and making sure that they’re stocking good products that come from good hemp farmers. We saw famous sports athletes speaking up and saying they want to make CBD part of their recovery regimen. With that, a CBD sponsorship for a major sports women’s soccer championship game that was on television.

Matt Baum: All in all, it was a great year for hemp, but there are still some problems too, though. We saw Washington bringing the DEA in to work with hemp legislation. We’ve got some fights there that will be fought. But 2020 is looking pretty bright, too. The Hemp Industry Daily, which is a great website if you haven’t checked it out, dropped an article on December 11th about the five business takeaways from the 2019 Hemp Industry Daily forum, where they brought in several huge names in the hemp business, and they had a lot of very positive things to say for the market going forward in 2020.

Matt Baum: Obviously, there is a huge CBD bubble right now, and if it is going to continue to grow, one of the conclusions that they came to is the price is going to have to come down, making it more available to everyone. That is going to happen now that we’re seeing more and in production legally in the States.

Matt Baum: The fiber market for hemp is showing real potential as well. As textile producers learn more about how hemp can be incorporated into materials they are already working with, that market is going to explode. It looks like some predictions are saying the market next year could grow by as much as $25 million to $50 million.

Matt Baum: Basically, there is no end in sight for the hemp marketplace, but we need to make sure that we are still getting the right messages out there, that we are still doing this the right way, and we are educating not just the public but the business sector that is going to go into this, because they are the ones that are going to lobby Washington to let them do this the right way.

Matt Baum: Hemp has made a lot of progress in 2019, more probably than in the last 50 years, here in the States anyway. But it’s up to us to make 2020 an even better year. So keep preaching the word, get out there, and express your interest for hemp products. Look for people that are doing it the right way. You can always do that at ministryofhemp.com. Now let’s get to my interview with Mattie Mead of Hempitecture.

Introducing Mattie Mead of Hempitecture

Matt Baum: Now, Mattie, one of the things that you guys are famous for is hempcrete. We’ll get into that, but first I want to know how does someone like you find their way to this company working with hemp in an industrial sense. Where’d you come from? What’s your origin story?

Mattie Mead: That’s a great question, and I love telling that story because it’s rooted back to my time as an architecture student. In 2012, 2013, I was finishing my architectural studies degree at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, which is a liberal arts college in upstate New York, about 2,500 students. So pretty small, but the cool thing about going to a small school like that, especially with a liberal arts focus, is you get to learn a lot of different subjects and really get a diverse education.

Mattie Mead: When I went to college, I was not initially intending to go to school for architecture, but my whole life, I had been a creative. Kindergarten onward, I was very much so interested in the arts. My first semester of college, I didn’t have any art-related courses, and this was after four years of high school where I was in the advanced placement art program and spent a lot of my time working in different mediums.

Mattie Mead: So my first semester of college, I didn’t have any art courses. I was like, “Wow! Something is really missing for me here,” and I became interested in the architecture program there. I viewed architecture as a practical application of art. I have the utmost respect for artists-

Matt Baum: Absolutely, yeah.

Mattie Mead: … but I didn’t see myself as being a career artist trying to make it that way. Architecture just seemed like something that was an extension of my creative desires. So I enrolled in this architecture program, and it surely was life-changing for me. I had really incredible professors and teachers around me.

Mattie Mead: But really where the Hempitecture story begins is while I was studying architecture, I got on a fast track with that program, which allowed me to diversify and expand my education. I undertook a minor in environmental sciences. It’d been a split education where it’s like I was spending part of my time in environmental sciences, part of my time in architecture.

Matt Baum: Sure.

Mattie Mead: And I had this light bulb moment where I was thinking about we consider the natural world. It’s its own entity. Then in the world of architecture, we consider the built environment separately. It’s not that common or often that we really think about the relationship between the built environment and the natural world. We just impose the built environment on the natural world and hope it meets our needs. To me-

Matt Baum: I suppose that’s true. You can look at all the glass and steel everywhere, yeah. We just drop buildings where they need to go, not where they should go, right?

Mattie Mead: Yeah, exactly. There was one specific statistic that I mean I still share to this day, and that statistic was that buildings and their operations are responsible for 40% of our domestic carbon footprint and approximately 40% of our domestic energy consumption.

Matt Baum: That is massive.

Mattie Mead: If we don’t change the way we design and build, we’re not going to do anything, or we’ll do very little about, I’m sure, the problems with sustainability in our built environment.

Matt Baum: That’s 40%. That is a huge chunk, too. We’re not talking like a little sliver. That’s massive.

Mattie Mead: Yeah, it actually makes up more of the domestic energy share than the transportation industry-

Matt Baum: God.

Mattie Mead: … which is fascinating when you think about all the planes, trains, cars on the road. The CO2 footprint from those is less than the operation of our built environment, the CO2 footprint that that creates.

Discovering hempcrete & earth architecture

Matt Baum: So getting into this pushed you into this ecological mindset basically, when you started to discover these things?

Mattie Mead: Absolutely. It pushed me into this ecological mindset. My senior year, I had a little bit of, I guess, flexibility in how I was able to continue my senior year because I’ve taken care of a lot of my undergraduate requirements. So I decided to do a thesis study. That thesis study I titled The Contemporary Relevance of Earth Architecture.

Mattie Mead: So now this time I’d never even heard of hempcrete. I had not even a slight bit of awareness of it. But actually what was fascinating to me was vernacular archetypes, so wattle and daub, cob, rammed earth, straw-bale, which are used in various different parts of the world.

Matt Baum: Okay, real quick. I don’t know what any of that is. What are we talking about there?

Mattie Mead: They’re all different styles, natural building techniques.

Matt Baum: Okay, okay.

Mattie Mead: So rammed earth is essentially using a specific kind of clay-based soil and compacting it with great pressure, and forming walls out of earth.

Matt Baum: Okay, sure.

Mattie Mead: If you think of New Mexico, kind of southwestern-

Matt Baum: Like adobe buildings and whatnot.

Mattie Mead: Totally, totally. It’s that kind of archetype. In my research, I learned about hemp lime, hempcrete being used in France, primarily at the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands. When I discovered that, it was this moment of like, oh my gosh, this is exciting to me and I want to pursue this and, perhaps most importantly, what a missed opportunity for the United States. At this time, I think they were [crosstalk 00:11:25].

Matt Baum: How long ago was this? I’m curious. How long ago was this when you first discovered it?

Mattie Mead: Yeah, so that was 2012 and 2013.

Matt Baum: Okay. How long have they been working-

Mattie Mead: I have to say-

Matt Baum: … with this stuff in Europe at that point?

Mattie Mead: Oh gosh, for over a decade at least.

Matt Baum: Really?

Mattie Mead: There is now evidence of hemp-based building materials going back thousands of years. There was a UNESCO world heritage site discovered, I want to say, in India that they excavated, they found hemp-based building materials used in a temple of sorts. There might be even a bigger history to the use of hemp and lime as a building material, or hemp in general as a building material. But what really got my gears turning was this modern day present use of hemp lime in these European countries.

Matt Baum: Sure. From there, that’s what gives you the push to start Hempitecture. Am I saying that right?

Mattie Mead: Yeah. It’s like hemp architecture, Hempitecture.

Matt Baum: Got you.

Mattie Mead: That was really the crux point of founding Hempitecture. I remember the day that I came up with that name. I was in the car with my entrepreneurial mentor, who actually was an alumnus of the same college that I went to. I was interning for him one summer, actually, my senior year interning for him. I said to him in the car, I said, “[KB 00:13:15], hear me out. Hemp architecture. Hempitecture,” and he goes, “Oh, that’s good. You need to write that down. Write that down.” Then that was-

Matt Baum: Did anybody ask you if you were insane? When you first started and told people like, “This is what I want to do. I want to go into building materials made of hemp,” did anyone say you’re crazy?

Mattie Mead: They said I was beyond crazy, to quote your word, “insane”, yeah. I mean early on, there was so much pushback. Also, I think it’s important to contextualize where I was. It’s interesting to consider that now. At the time, I was in upstate New York. Don’t get me wrong. I was born and raised on the east coast. I love the east coast, but probably less progressive than some other places in the United States. So I feel like perhaps had I been in Colorado, people would have been like, “Right on, man. Go for it.” But in New York, people were like, “You’re out of your mind. This is never going to happen. You’re talking about building homes from a substance that is on … It’s federally illegal. It’s on the Controlled Substances Act. You’re out of your mind.”

Matt Baum: Or at least importing materials that are going to be so expensive that the beginning of your cost starts way higher than someone that’s just going to go rip rocks out of the ground and crush them up, right?

Mattie Mead: Right, right. It was tough for me because I was so optimistic and so gung-ho on making this my reality. It wasn’t about me, it was about the potential impact that this venture could have from both a sustainability standpoint, but also from a societal benefit standpoint. Once I learned about the health benefits of it and how people whom are living in hemp-based homes feel better, they’re healthier, they’re exposed to less toxins, I really saw this as an idea that could have been an impetus for good.

Mattie Mead: The naysayers were … It was disappointing to me, but it never quite deterred me enough to totally step away. Although I will say there’s definitely some times that it was questionable whether or not I would try to move forward.

What is hempcrete?

Matt Baum: Sure. Let me ask you now that hemp is legal and we’re growing hemp in the United States, is it easier? Are people saying, “Oh man. That’s a great idea”? Are they singing a different tune to you now or are they still like, “Pfft. Good luck, kid”?

Mattie Mead: Yeah, I think it’s going to slow transition and revolution in how people conceptualize and think of industrial hemp. So my senior year of college, I was promoting this concept in business plan competition. I was going in front of venture capital judges actually promoting a product concept. It wasn’t like, “Hey, I want to go out there and build hemp buildings.” It was a material concept for creating an interlocking, insulating building block that can go together just like Legos …

Matt Baum: Yeah, hemp Legos, basically.

Mattie Mead: … which now [crosstalk 00:16:37] out there on the market. Early on, people were like, “You’re out of your mind. You’re crazy.” Then a few states are adopting industrial hemp regulations and then it started to become a little bit more normalized. Now you flash forward to today where the farm bill was passed 2018, and now in New York and the northeast is a region that’s actually leading the industrial hemp bioeconomy. I mean they’re doing a lot in [crosstalk 00:17:07].

Matt Baum: All of a sudden they’re paying attention now in the east, huh?

Mattie Mead: Yeah, yeah. And so, it’s funny to look back and see the same place that I was five, six years ago, kind of like saying, “No, it’s never going to happen,” is now, like, where it actually is happening, but there’s still so much further that we have to go for this to really become a United States-based industry. We’re really still just at the start, especially with the farm bill passing in 2018.

Matt Baum: So tell me about the hempcrete itself. Let’s talk about how do you make hempcrete? I mean obviously you’re not just pulling a plant out of the ground and grinding it up. I mean what goes into it? What part of the plant are we using? How do you guys do this?

Mattie Mead: Yeah, that’s a great question, Matt. So hempcrete is a biocomposite. That’s a fancy word for saying more than one natural-based thing that are combined together. We’re using the wooden core of the industrial hemp stalk, which that one core, you grow fiber variety industrial hemp.

Mattie Mead: There’s a lot of steps before you can get that wooden core that meet the needs of a building-grade product. It goes through a decortication process, which that concept there is important. Decortication is so essential to this industry as a whole because without decortication, you don’t have a way of separating different plant constituents into their valuable end uses.

Mattie Mead: With the plant itself, primarily what we’re concerned with, initially at least, was just the core. We want clean core, we want it free, about long fiber. I’d also like to explain the hemp stalk is this vertical mass that’s wearing a jacket. Before you can get into what’s inside the jacket, you have to take the jacket off. That process really requires specific machinery. But once that jacket’s taken off, you’re left with something that looks identical to wood chips. With wood chips-

Matt Baum: Okay. So we’re basically taking it apart and putting it back together at this point.

Mattie Mead: Yeah, you’re taking it apart, you’re getting your different parts that you need, in this case the core. Then that core is what is mixed with your binder. The binder is the other very crucial and critical element, and it’s often the less talked about part of the hempcrete biocomposite. It’s slightly less sexy than the hemp component of it-

Matt Baum: Fair enough.

Mattie Mead: … but it’s, in my opinion, just as important, if not even more important. Primarily, hempcrete is created-

Using the whole hemp plant (or not)

Matt Baum: Let me ask you before you go any further. Before you go any further, let me ask you, if I’m a farmer and I’m growing hemp … And this might be a silly question. If it is, I apologize. But I’m a farmer and I am growing hemp for CBD. I am going to sell the flower, basically, for CBD. Can I use that same plant to sell it to someone like you who’s going to use it to make hempcrete, but perhaps the stalks?

Mattie Mead: That is not a stupid question, and there are many bright minds that are working on that exact question right now, because that’s a huge problem with the CBD industry. What do you do with your leftover biomass that is a lot less valuable than the flowers themselves? When you look at a-

Matt Baum: If you can make it more valuable, farmers are going to grow more of it too, if we can say, “Well, hey, I’m not just selling the flower. I can also sell this pulp or the internal parts to the Hempitecture guys and they can make that.” Now you have a value-added crop, right?

Mattie Mead: Absolutely. Right there you’re getting at the heart of the goal of full spectrum utilization of the plant. You want to utilize all components of it. Nothing goes to waste.

Matt Baum: Cool.

Mattie Mead: But there’s a challenge with that, and that challenge is that fiber variety industrial hemp is grown with different agronomical practices than CBD hemp is grown. There are a lot of similarities, and this is putting it in layman’s terms and there are people who could do much better than I could at elaborating on the subtle nuances and differences. But, primarily, CBD is cultivated very similarly to cannabis. It’s very manicured. It’s got spacing that allows the plant to become more bushy. It often has more flowering tops than, say, a fiber variety wood that grows more similarly to other bast-style crops, flax, kenaf, jute.

Mattie Mead: And so, one of the problems is because of just some of the ways that CBD hemp is grown, it’s more difficult to process. But I’m hopeful, and I know that there are people out there and hopefully people that are listening to this that are working to tackle that issue of how do we divert this waste from the CBD industry and turn into something valuable. I’m hopeful that we’ll start seeing that coming online very, very soon.

Matt Baum: But the plant that you’re looking for is basically more of a beefy, fibrous plant that is grown for that fiber.

Mattie Mead: Correct. We could really get into the weeds, no pun intended, about-

Matt Baum: No, we don’t want to get too scientific here. I mean I’m not a scientist, so we want people to enjoy this show.

Mattie Mead: Yeah, yeah. There’s dual-crop varieties which make you can get a little bit of CBD, you can get food, you can get fiber, you can get hurd. But, primarily, from what I’ve seen, a lot of the agronomical practices surrounding industrial hemp are, “Hey, we’re growing this for CBD,” or, “Hey, we’re growing this for fiber.” It’s very specifically purposed.

Building with hempcrete

Matt Baum: So after you guys get the fiber, it’s decorticated. You take the jacket off, as you said, and you got those wood chips. Then what happens to it?

Mattie Mead: So we send those to a project site, at the project site where the building is already structurally framed out because hempcrete is a non-load-bearing material. Hempcrete is a bit of a misnomer to a certain extent, just in that people think it’s a concrete replacement. It is not. But rather it’s-

Matt Baum: That was my next question, actually.

Mattie Mead: Yeah. There’s a bit of a movement right now that I really respect and appreciate, of people starting to label hempcrete as hemp lime. Hey, call what it is because hempcrete is, as I said before, a biocomposite derived from hemp core and lime. You have it on site there. You have your building framed out. You need to combine it with the binder before it can really do anything, binder and water. The binder is like the magic glue that sets off this reaction. Why limestone? Limestone, calcium carbonate, a calcification reaction occurs when you mix limestone with water.

Matt Baum: That’s the same as concrete, basically, right?

Mattie Mead: It’s a little different than concrete in the sense that the reaction, the calcification reaction, is actually spurred on by pretty available carbon dioxide. This is where the really exciting sustainability impacts come in with hempcrete. Well, there’s numerous sustainability impacts.

Mattie Mead: But the material itself, carbon dioxide is pretty available in the atmosphere, within the calcification process, returning to a solid-state calcium carbonate with the hemp core embedded within this binding matrix. Essentially, if you can imagine, it’s like taking a white powder, mix it with water, and you add in the hemp core. That is the essence of hempcrete.

Matt Baum: Okay. All right. I see it working now. So we’ve got it there and it can be poured. From what I understand, there’s three different ways. You can pour it in a form or you can make it into bricks. Then you can also spray it like an insulation.

Mattie Mead: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. You nailed it there. The first style we call cast in place. That’s tamping it into form boards. Cast in place has … It’s truly an artisanal, beautiful approach, however, very labor-intensive.

Matt Baum: Right.

Mattie Mead: The second approach that you named there, blocks, blocks are great. They’re a nominal building material. Most people know how to work with [TNU 00:26:47] or other styles of block. There are some challenges, though, with blocks. How does the block integrate into a structural frame? If you’re making blocks, it’s not that likely that you’ll be making blocks on site, just because if you’re making them on site, why wouldn’t you just take the hempcrete and put it in form boards? And you’re subject to environmental conditions, the weather, temperature, humidity, so on and so forth. Then the third approach-

Matt Baum: Blocks would be something perhaps they would order and say, “We need this side blocks,” and they come in. Then you just throw them together, basically, Lego-style, right?

Mattie Mead: Yeah. There are a few companies out there, Just BioFiber in Canada, that is making an interlocking building block, really similar to the design concept that I had for interlocking building blocks when I was an undergraduate student in 2012. We are now making small batch order of blocks within our new space that we’re calling the Hempitecture Innovation Lab. We now have a brick and mortar space where we’re doing experimentation, innovating new products, and creating small block quarters for specific projects in mind.

Mattie Mead: For instance, if you had a tiny house you wanted to build and you said, “Hey, I want to build a 400-square foot house. How many blocks will we need?” well, we can make those in our new lab now and send them out after they’re cured, after being climate-controlled.

Mattie Mead: But the third option that you talked about there is really exciting and it’s something that’s new, or at least it’s new in the United States, and that is the spray-applied method. Spray-applied is very different than that cast in place artisanal approach. It’s much more, in my opinion, in line with how we build conventionally here in the United States. Oftentimes, insulation products, dense-packed cellulose or spray pump, it’s sprayed into the wall cavity.

Matt Baum: Right. They cut a hole and they squirt it in there, more or less.

Mattie Mead: Pretty much. Speaking simply, it’s similar to that. You could have a house sprayed out pretty conventionally. You have to make some substitutions to make hempcrete work. But now we’re able to spray-apply hempcrete. We can cut off 50% of the installation time from a cast in place approach with our system and that we’re distributing here in the United States called the Ereasy, which was invented in France.

Mattie Mead: And so, we’re now using that system on a lot of projects. We’re looking to get that system in the hands of more American builders. Shot out to [Amerishonver 00:29:50], a company from Pennsylvania, who is soon to be new owner of this.

Mattie Mead: We’re excited about this because this really democratizes the ability to effectively install hempcrete. What that does is it brings the cost down. It takes it less out of this sort of like artisanal, cast in place world, and democratizes it with something that more people can use. Ultimately, our goal is to [crosstalk 00:30:20].

Matt Baum: Yeah. If you can pick up a hose and you can turn on the machine, you can spray it, right?

Mattie Mead: Yeah. I mean I wish it was exactly that easy, but there’s like [crosstalk 00:30:30].

Matt Baum: I might be reducing it, I apologize.

Mattie Mead: It’s like standing next to an airplane jet when this thing is on.

Matt Baum: Oh, wow!

Mattie Mead: It is a powerful, loud system. But that force there, and the system as a whole, allows you to install this material just so much more quickly than the cast in place. [crosstalk 00:30:58].

The future of building with hemp

Matt Baum: What is the benefit of that? Let me ask you because I know this is load-bearing. What is the benefit? Is this acting as insulation or is it forming the walls? What is it doing?

Mattie Mead: Yeah, hempcrete takes the place of multiple materials. Primarily, by function, it’s an insulation material that does so much more, because the material itself is able to regulate moisture, humidity. It’s a vapor-open material, which is very contrary to the building science that we popularly accept here in the United States, where we do this thing where we build buildings and we wrap them in plastic, and we wonder why there’s mold problems and moisture issues.

Mattie Mead: It takes the place of your insulation, but it’s a monolithic material, meaning it’s continuous. There’s no breaks in it. There’s no thermal bridging. It can bury your structural frame, which oftentimes structural frames are made out of wood. You’re burying your structural frame in a material that’s fire-proof. That’s another benefit of it. It’s completely fire-proof. Especially now as conversations become more sensitive regarding wildfire and resiliency and the risks that we’re now facing as a result of, perceivedly, climate change, hempcrete is the solution for that.

Matt Baum: That’s amazing. Can I ask, is load-bearing hempcrete in the future? Is that coming?

Mattie Mead: I would say yes. I think there have been successful attempts in load-bearing hempcrete in the past. However, my inclination is to say that when you bring hempcrete to load-bearing capacities, it often has a density that’s much different than conventional hempcrete, which, therefore, makes it act much less proficiently as an insulator than it would with a lighter, more airy mix. And so, you would be substituting that structural capacity for the capacity of the material being [crosstalk 00:33:20].

Matt Baum: Okay, okay. I see. Yes, it’s coming, but we’ve got to do some work first to make it not only efficient, but as efficient as the stuff we’re using now, basically.

Mattie Mead: Yes. Yes, exactly.

Matt Baum: I live in Omaha, Nebraska and I decide, you know what, I’m building a new house. I’m going to call the Hempitecture guys. Can I call you and say I want to use hempcrete in my house that I’m building next week, or am I going to run into a bunch of problems with the city and with building permits and whatnot?

Mattie Mead: That’s a really good question, Matt. I would say if you call me and you said you needed hempcrete next week, we might be able to help you out, but it might be tough. Generally, working hemp lime into your construction program requires it being configured from the onset of your project. It really does require a full design program, which means from day one or pretty early on of design development, the architect is considering the use of hempcrete.

Mattie Mead: I mean we’ve been doing this now for about six years and we’ve had conversations with thousands of people over the years. However, we built fewer than a dozen hempcrete projects. Where does that number disconnect? It’s that hempcrete, for some reason or another, depending on the project, it can be difficult to implement, to be honest.

Matt Baum: I’m sure. I’m sure.

Mattie Mead: It’s easy to work with, but it can be difficult to implement. And so, that’s why recently we’ve expanded our focus at Hempitecture to have another product line. We’re now offering a new product that we call HempWool, which is a fiber batt insulation replacement. If you said, “I’ve got a building project. I need it insulated next week,” we would tell you, “I think you’re a little late in the game for hempcrete, but here’s a product alternative that is still hemp-derived. It meets probably 60% to 75% of the benefits that hempcrete has.”

Matt Baum: That’s awesome. It’s the kind of thing where this can be implemented anywhere in the United States now. You’re not going to run into permit problems and whatnot.

Mattie Mead: No. No permit problems. It could be implemented anywhere in the United States. It could be implemented by any person who’s ever installed insulation before, which is a huge benefit because hempcrete is a bit of a trade knowledge, a bit of a craft to it. Whereas with HempWool, you could substitute, “Hey, I’ve decided I don’t want to live in a toxic box of spray foam. I want to live in [inaudible 00:36:05] nurture my health.” HempWool is the answer for you when you’ve already gone down a conventional design program.

Matt Baum: It sounds like the future of hempcrete, and correct me if I’m wrong, but hempcrete is the future. It’s great and it works really well. But the future of hempcrete is making it easier to use and easier to implement.

Mattie Mead: Very much so. That’s something that we’ve been working on from the start, is how do we make this more approachable, more accessible, diversifying our product line so that if hempcrete doesn’t work for you, how can you still incorporate healthy sustainable material into your home?

Mattie Mead: One thing that I would just throw out there is as a company, we’re really looking to cultivate a community of people across the United States and internationally that are like-minded and sharing the same goals that we have. And so, we’re always open for collaboration. If people ever have questions for us, they can feel free to reach out. We’re expanding our team so we can service more projects, so we can have more impact, because, at the end of the day, what this is about for us is cultivating that community and creating positive change in the world and impacting our environment in a positive way.

Matt Baum: Man, and we love to hear that stuff here at Ministry of Hemp. That’s exactly what we’re looking for and that’s why I’m talking you today. Mattie, thank you so much for your time, man. This was great.

Mattie Mead: Thanks for the opportunity to be on here, Matt. It’s much appreciated.

Final thoughts from our host

Matt Baum: Yeah. Thanks again to Mattie Mead for coming on the show and for a great interview. Of course, you’ll be able to find all about what they do over at Hempitecture in the show notes of this very episode.

Matt Baum: That about does it for Episode 24, the final episode of 2019. I want to thank everybody that supported the show all yearlong. We don’t have a show without you guys. The easiest way to support the Ministry of Hemp Podcast is to go to iTunes and submit a star rating or even a written review if you have a little bit of time. It doesn’t even have to be long. It really, really helps get us out in front of people that are searching for this information and spread the good word of hemp education.

Matt Baum: As always, you will find a full written transcript of this show to make it accessible for everybody, because at Ministry of Hemp, we believe that an accessible world is just a better world for everyone. If you’ve got some time off during your holiday break, be sure to jump over to ministryofhemp.com. Kit has a fantastic article about hemp and the FDA. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter so you can get hit with the latest in hemp stories and hemp education every week. We don’t bother you too much, and the stuff we do send you, it’s good stuff, trust me.

Matt Baum: Be sure to follow us on social media @MinistryOfHemp on Twitter, /MinistryofHemp on Facebook, and feel free to shoot me an email, [email protected] with your hemp-related questions, or you can call me too, 402-819-6417. Leave a message and Kit, who I mentioned earlier, the Editor in Chief of ministryofhemp.com, and I might answer your questions on one of our Q&A shows. These can be questions about any part of the hemp business. We love to hear from you so please send us your questions.

Matt Baum: For now, this is Matt Baum with Ministry of Hemp Podcast reminding you take care of yourself, take care of others, and make good decisions, will you? This is the Ministry of Hemp wishing you a happy new year, and signing off.

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Matt Baum has been hosting, producing, and editing podcasts for almost ten years. He's been a touring musician, chef, journalist, and avid comic book fan for as long as he can remember. Currently, Matt lives in Omaha Nebraska with his wife Kacie and pugs Mable and Bobo.

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