Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Architects plan hemp building at Idaho BaseCamp

Project leaders based at Ketchum Innovation Center

Express Staff Writer

A timber frame building with a hemp core is planned for the Idaho BaseCamp on the east side of Trail Creek Summit. Drawing completed by Matthew Mead, Tyler Mauri and Dale Bates.

    Two young architects, Matthew Mead and Tyler Mauri, are planning to build what they say is the first nonresidential hemp building in the U.S. about 35 miles northwest of Ketchum in Custer County.
    They are set up in offices at the Ketchum Innovation Center, and aided by local builders and designers.
    Mead and Mauri, both 23, founded “Hempitecture” after graduating from Hobart and from William Smith colleges, respectively, with degrees in architecture. They advocate building with hemp, a species of cannabis, because they say using it as a building material is a low carbon-footprint alternative to other building products.
    “Hempitecture emerged from a research project that I conducted during my undergraduate studies,” Mead said. “I began looking for the best building material in terms of carbon footprint, energy consumption and thermal resistance, as well as breathability. Hemp construction represents the pinnacle of all these requirements.”
    A residential hemp building was completed in Hailey in 2012 by local builder Blake Eagle, after a nine-month building-permit process.
    Mead said Eagle helped prepare the way for the innovative Hempitecture project by “jumping through all the hoops” with the Hailey building department.
    “Blake set the precedent,” said Mead, who expects the process on Custer County to be less complicated. “In Custer County there is no building inspector. All they want is building elevation designs and floor plans.”
    Mead said hemp’s fast growing cycle allows it to sequester more carbon than is released into the atmosphere during its use as a building material.
    The architects have plans to build a timber frame building. The hemp material will be poured like concrete into forms surrounding the framing and replace insulation in the walls. He said all electrical and other wiring will be contained within the hemp walls.
    Idaho BaseCamp was founded by Mat Gershater 35 miles northeast of Sun Valley over Trail Creek Pass. It is a nonprofit organization geared toward bringing people into the natural environment for workshops.
    Mead and Mauri were invited to town by Idaho BaseCamp Program Director Whitney McNees, and are moving into offices at the Ketchum Innovation Center, a local business incubator funded by the city of Ketchum.
    A crowd-funded Kickstarter effort has raised $18,370 toward a goal of $25,000 to complete the project.
    Dale Bates, the founder of Living Architecture, and builder Craig Maxwell are providing mentoring and design oversight for the project.
    A number of other people are also involved in the project, including permaculture teacher Joey Cardella, builder Brent Dueter and Sagebrush Solar owner Billy Mann.
    The team plans to use volunteer workers willing to provide labor in exchange for taking part in hemp-building workshops. Mead said glass bottles, fencing and other recycled materials are being collected for use in construction of the building.        “We hope to break ground by the end of June,” he said.

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