Meet the Team Behind the First Public Hemp Building

As seen on Huffington Post..

Matthew Mead and Tyler Mauri kickstarted Hempitecture in 2014 after being awarded several prestigious entrepreneurial honors in 2013 including the New York State Business Plan Competition and Global Student Entrepreneur Award.

The duo met while in college at Hobart and William Smith where they both received undergraduate degrees in Architectural Studies. Matt and Tyler were inspired by the potential cost-effectiveness of hemp material as pro-hemp legislation, coupled with the emerging U.S. industrial hemp industry, came to fruition in 2013.

The project was extremely successful in crowdfunding, raising over $2,000 above their initial goal in June of 2014.

Working alongside Dale Bates of Living-Architecture in partnership with Idaho Base Camp, an environmental retreat center in Southern Idaho’s Lost River Range, Hempitecture set out with countless volunteers and several key people on site to custom-build a sustainable, hemp-based community building, the Borah Basin Building.

“There were definitely a few learning curves,” he explained, mostly involving the necessity of onsite organization.

“Being 45 minutes aways from a lumber store wasn’t ideal.” sayd Mead, “We have so many people to thank for the completion of this project. We couldn’t have done it without Mathew Gershater, Founder and director of IBC, whose vision and determination made the entire project possible as well as Dale’s work on site work and of course the help of our volunteers.”

But after years of planning and preparations, from the first steps toward funding, to testing the material, receiving their first hemp shipment, and working alongside the elements, this first ever public hemp building will now be open for viewing Saturday, August 5th during the IBC Grand Opening.

“The Borah Basin Building is a responsible and sustainable take on American architecture in a way that it reflects the natural world. Our goal was to set an example for how buildings can be built sustainably by reusing resources and using natural resources,” says Mead. “All of our structured elements are recycled. We used about 75% natural, rapidly renewable materials, things that would have otherwise gone to the landfill.”

“The building’s hempcrete materials are an insulated bio-aggregate that uses the wooden core of the industrial hemp stalk as its primary constituent. When this wooden core is combined with a lime-mineral based binder and water, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and uses it as a regent to solidify into an insulating form. In this sense, the walls in the Borah Basin Building have permanently sequestered carbon dioxide from our atmosphere in creating a comfortable, insulated, and natural feeling space.”

Hempcrete is becoming a more and more widespread as a sustainable insulator throughout the eco-friendly building community as states who are now legally allowed to farm hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill begin ‘putting down roots’ in commercial and residential construction. The plant which has been federally prohibited for over 70 years is widely known for its fiber, seed, clothing, and biofuel capabilities, but now we are seeing this sustainable crop take shape in modern home-building as a pest-resistant, fire-resistant, carbon-sequestering compound.

Buildings consume 40-50% of the world’s energy.

“It is critical to our future as stewards of the planet. If we are going to take climate change seriously, we in America need to consider all options in the way we construct and transition into sustainable practices,” says Geoff Whaling, Board Chairman of the National Hemp Association. “One only has to look at the progress made in England, where Marks and Spencer has constructed 200,000 sq. ft. retail stores made with hempcrete, to see the type of potential available in America today.”

Since the completion of the Borah Basin Building at IBC, Co-Founder Tyler Mauri has stepped aside from the business to complete a Masters of Architecture at the University of Virginia while Mead is currently on site of Hempitecture’s latest renovation project.

The Highland Hemp House is a residential build in Washington state showcasing the team’s learned experience with this new and exciting material.

Mead has worked in high end residential construction for over three years and sees the significance of hemp as an innovative tool in transitioning American building methods.

“It’s an exciting step forward from the IBC project which really did serve as a prototype learning experience.

“Hempitecture’s aim is to bridge the gap between conventional American building to apply natural, sustainable materials,” says Mead. “so, that’s my mission now: to take our way of framing and apply hempcrete to these systems so that it can be more easily adopted.”

Mead is enthusiastic about the educational opportunities in hemp-building and participates in workshops like the recently held Professional Builders Hempcrete Workshop hosted by Alembic Studio.

“The owners (at Idaho Base Camp) were well aware that it was going to be a learning process, but were also excited about the idea for IBC being a laboratory of sorts. As for this renovation, you have so many unforeseen challenges when you’re blending with an existing building that has been renovated over the course of time. It’s an entirely new learning curve to blend a 12 inch hemp wall with conventional walls.”

At this rate, Hempitecture is setting in place its own foundation on which to cover the most ground in the uncharted waters of hemp-building.

“There’s still so much innovation that needs to happen in how we build hemp buildings, so for this project, I am going to be looking to apply new ideas and concepts that will make building with hemp more accessible and feasible. Right now, it requires a lot of labor, time, and energy, so there are methods we are putting in place that will streamline that process.”

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