January 2020 Newsletter

January 2020 Issue


Dear IHBA Members,

To start with I would like to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year of 2020.
I hope for so many things this year both for my family and Humanity as a whole. Last year was traumatic in several ways but especially as for many of us, the result of the growing, frightening evidence that both Climate Change and Ecological destruction were happening faster than most had predicted. So if last year was the year of realisation then this year needs to be the year of action. I am very glad that many of the actions I am involved with concerning Hemp Building are a part of the urgent and positive movement so needed now.
My awareness of the position of Hemp use as an important tool to address these planetary and societal problems was born out of a lifetime of casually absorbing information from the many other ‘eco-types’ I was surrounded by in my circle of friends. I seem unable now to disconnect the implication of any action on the chain of life surrounding us and that we are part of. So to begin the Year I want to both give you all an update on our activities but also hopefully, to provide you with a better understanding of how other sections of human activity are connected to what we are involved with as on previous occasions I have said, we do not operate in a vacuum.
Forest Fires California
I wrote the last Newsletter a few days before I set off for the U.S. Hemp Building Summit and I am very glad I went. However during the flight I was shocked to see how many fires were burning up the forests of Northern California all part of the interconnected effects of climate change. But of course nothing compared to what is happening to Australia as I write this the consequences of which are worse than anything imagined.
The two days in Ketchum were split between a first day of presentations and panel discussions and a second visiting three Hemp Building projects. I can report that the presenters from Ireland and the UK, IHBA co-director Liam Donohoe and IHBA member Alex Sparrow gave a very good account of themselves. Alex who, in a last minute change to the programme, was the first speaker on the day was able to give a wide ranging talk on many of the projects he has been involved with and was able to answer the many technical questions and even included a short lesson on the history of the Industrial Revolution in as much as his home town was the site of the first water powered factory in the world.
Liam set the bar higher for Hemp Building presentations by including at the end of his talk an unaccompanied song in true Irish style. Another fascinating presentation was given by Alison Mears and Jonsara Ruth of the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School in New York. It was interesting to see how they had approached the subject especially the traditional uses of Lime. Their research in Switzerland and India illustrated how there are still many ingredients that have previously been used to alter the behaviour of Lime building materials we need to learn about.
As I was as a result of the programme shuffle I was required to close the event and I am glad to say that this worked out quite well. I was certainly suffering from what is now termed ‘Flight Shame’ and had questioned my traveling such a long way by plane just to talk at a conference, however I justified to myself and the audience by thinking how I might attempt to set the U.S. Hemp Building Association off the right foot so to speak. I realised that if I am to make the most of my current position as ‘expert’ I should cut to the quick and ‘get serious’ as the title of my presentation declared. The sub-title of my talk was What has CBD got to do with Hemp Building? and with this motif I attempted to focus attention on those three letters C,B & D, Starting out with how the material works with mass, trapped air and vapor porosity as a Complex Bioengineered Device through how we need to concentrate on building design to make the most of our efforts with Cannabis Building Design and progressing to how if we don’t address Climate Break Down it will end in Complete Bloody Disaster. I think it went down quite well.
The second day most of the 300 or so delegates were still there to take part in the field-trip to the sites prepared for us. First up for the group I was with, was the beautiful house built by Blake Eagle and his lovely wife …… in the suburbs of Ketchum amid a standard group of houses and so a great comparison. There were many details to observe in the designing of the building and the materials used such flashing around the base of the external walls to protect from snow building up and finely finished clay plasters through much of the interior of the home. Not everyone would welcome several hundred people traipsing through their home but this couple were very generous hosts and justifiably proud of their work.
One of the most impressive aspects of the house was that it saved $400-500 a year on winter energy costs compared to the neighbouring homes on the street.
Eagles HomeDelegates at the USHBS visit the home of the Eagle family in Ketchum. 
After our viewing of Blakes home we climbed back into the buses and when further out of town to a site where a demonstration of the new Ereasy spray system was planned however this wasn’t as successful as it might have been due to the size of the air compressor not being large enough to complete the task of transporting the Hempcrete through the larger size pipes they were using. Despite that the concept was visible and this was of educational value. Also at the site was a small prefabricated frame building the lads from Hempitecture had erected as part of their learning process. Of particular interest to me was a horse drawn sheep herders wagon parked nearby, which reminded me of the Irish Tinkers (they prefer the name Pavee) caravans that I used to live and travel in around Ireland in the early 70’s.
The sheep herders wagon and group listening to Mattie Mead explaining the building process of the prototype Hemp building
The next part of the day excursion was for the three old yellow school buses to take us all high up a steep mountain pass to a Hemp building project Hempitecture had undertaken the year before. The journey up was quite a feat for the drivers as the winding road that clung to the hill side had no barrier along the side of the road down the steep slope of tall pine trees and loose rock to the ravine some 600 feet below.
Once we came through the highest point of the trail we arrived at the beautiful setting by the river of the Idaho Base Camp built by Volunteers under Hempitecture’s supervision, from recycled materials and Hempcrete panels cast off site. Designed with a multi angled roof to replicate the many tents surrounding the building during the summer season when it is populated by the sessions there which give children from deprived urban areas an experience of camping in the wilds. We were blessed with a brilliantly sunny day though there was a chill in the air.
Ketchum groupHappy group at the youth camp high in the Mountains
To get back to making the connections between our activities of Building with Hemp the many other ways in which we should be changing the way we live I would like to draw your attention to an organisation called Feasta (Foundation for the Economics of Sustainabliity) a group based mainly in Ireland and the UK but with members and contributors from the international community, who have developed a serious approach to creating alternative money systems to replace the current one of creating both the debt of the loan and that of the interest. I will not try to paraphrase thieir concept but encourage you to read the submission they made to the U.S government recently about their idea. If major governments considered this system we could bring a halt to much of the destruction to our environment.
They have also devised an alternative Carbon Trading System called Cap and Share which is similar to their currency concepts outlined in the link.
They also provide a good selection of articles written by forward thinking experts in many areas of interest. It is very difficult to talk sometimes about the changes we might have to make to our lifestyles especially in connection with carbon emissions see here. I thought that this was a good way to broach the subject with those whose carbon emissions are very high such as many people in places such as Australia, Canada and the U.S. where fossil fuel transport is so relied on and where the energy use of buildings in particular is extremely wasteful. I tentatively mentioned during my presentation that if the U.S. population could reduce their emissions by 30% they would be as bad as us Europeans and we still have a long way to go`!!!!! There is no doubt that the challenge we have before us is huge but to know the best means to get to the target, is most important and knowledge is key.
In the last Newsletter I mentioned a book called Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken well it just so happened that a neighbour and friend of Pauls’ was at the Summit and she told me that the sequence of importance of the various solutions listed in the book keeps changing as more information arrives and more research is done or found. The result of this was that Refrigeration which was previously #1 had been toppled by Empowerment of Women due to the wiser decisions they would make on the families behalf. Not a surprise really.

As a great beginning to the year Aia and I had a surprise visit from Tony Budden and his wife Camille during a quick trip over from spending Christmas in England it was great to both catch up and to meet Camille for the first time.
As you will see below Sponsorship is now available for the Symposium in March.
Tony Budden and Steve Allin Ireland Dec 30 2019
9th International Hemp Building Symposium
9th International Hemp Building Symposium
Hornington Manor, Yorkshire, UK. 31 March – 1 April 2020.

Presented by The International Hemp Building Association.

Sponsorship of the Symposium is now available 
The 9th International Hemp Building Symposium will be held in the heart of the North Yorkshire countryside, Hornington Manor is a unique venue. The Grade II listed Manor was built in 1770 and has been lovingly restored to provide luxury self-catering accommodation, which is the perfect setting for our next Symposium.
It is also the site of the 300 acre Harrison Spinks farm which provides Hemp fibre for top quality mattresses.
The two day event will consist of international speakers with the latest research results and material tests. There will also be presentations from people working in the industry about projects they are involved in both planned or completed. This year’s Symposium will also feature an extra day on the 2nd of April, featuring a range of Hempcrete spraying technologies.The 9th International Hemp Building Symposium is organised by the International Hemp Building Association and hosted by UK Hempcrete and Harrison Spinks.
To end this Newsletter I would like to draw your attention again to our new look website created by our IHBA secretary and my wife Aia. Migrating a website from one template to another is quite a feat I can assure you so Thank you Aia!!
Please keep us up to date with your activities so we can tell all the members too!
Hope to see you all soon in the UK this year.
Steve Allin

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