INHABITAT: Had the legislative environment in South Africa been more hemp-friendly, how might that have reduced this project’s cost and carbon footprint?
Tony Budden: Obviously the transport from France and China have added to the footprint, which would be otherwise unnecessary, but also the costs would have been much lower as hemp is fairly expensive in Europe. South Africa has a better climate, more space, and more available labour in which to grow a hemp industry. There is also the loss of potential jobs here in SA that this and other projects like it would create, and we really need to create jobs here.
INHABITAT: What are the top five reasons architects should consider hemp as a construction material?
- Superior insulation
- Creating healthy homes
- Renewable resource/sustainability
- “Better than Zero Carbon” construction method
- Versatile material
INHABITAT: And then, under what circumstances might hemp not be the best choice?
Tony Budden:Hmmmm, that’s not easy for me to answer as hemp has now been tested in most climates and conditions, from homes to huge warehouses, everywhere from Europe to Australia to America, Japan and now South Africa. I would have to say cost is a factor, but this is also coming down rapidly as the industry sees economy of scale, especially if you calculate in the energy savings of a hemp house over its lifespan.
INHABITAT: What’s your next step, now that the Hemp House is complete? Do you hope to build similar houses in the future?
Tony Budden: For sure, there are already a few in the pipeline. We are working on the legislation issues in order to grow and produce the hemp products locally, but in the meanwhile also working making the imported products more available here. We will also be using the house to generate as much interest as possible, to help accelerate the whole process.