Going Greener

I moved to Asheville to pursue a greener approach to the Real Estate business that I have been a part of since 1999. I am excited to see that Green Building in Asheville is getting a little more progressive every day. Here is some recent news form the Nauhaus Blog.

"Press Release: Prototype House Becomes First Passive “Hemcrete” Home in the World
November 25th, 2009 by Billy Schweig

Asheville, NC–The Nauhaus Institute (NHI) is scheduled to begin the installation of its revolutionary hemcrete walls on its prototype research home this Wednesday December 2nd. Because a small part of the wall system was installed as a demonstration on November 12th, the prototype home is already the first of its kind in the US. The material, called Tradical® Hemcrete®, is made from waste hemp shiv and a lime-based binder. Designers from NHI have opted to pursue Passive House certification which would make the house not only one of the fist ten certified in the US but also the first Passive House hemp home in the world.

“This is going to be a really significant project on a global scale,” said Ian Pritchett, the Chairman and Technical Director of Lime Technologies who manufactures Hemcrete®. Pritchett flew in from the United Kingdom to mark the event. (see the full interview here – Youtube).

Designers of the home say that the new material will not only create breathable, long-lasting walls but also give the home an insulation performance of three times what building code requires. The material can be mixed and poured in to forms in a similar fashion to concrete.

“We’re essentially building with a bio-composite made from agricultural waste and a recyclable binder,” said Tim Callahan, Architectural Designer for NHI. “The lime binder itself has been used as a building material for thousands of years.”

The construction project has already raised eyebrows nationally in the green building world. “It’s going to be off the scale for LEED points,” said Pritchett. “This is a very big deal.” LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and is the dominant rating system for environmentally sustainable construction. And it doesn’t stop there; the NHI team is projecting that the house will break records in nearly every quantifiable sustainability standard by which homes are measured.

“We sought out this home because it’s had a reputation as a historic project,” said Matt Schillig, owner of WNC ProBuilt. Schillig is installing the Hemcrete®, framing and Eco-Panels roofing on the prototype home.

The Nauhaus Institute is the research, education, and information-generating branch of the Nauhaus family of organizations based in Asheville, NC. The goal of NHI is to merge the best of modern high tech building science with the core principles of the “natural” and “green” building movements."

I look forward to touring this home and learning more about the construction methods. I expect to see our methods of building to change considerably over the next few years. From more Prefab structures to Hemcrete construction I have no doubt that the type of buildings our children will be purchasing will be much different than the poor quality construction of production builders that I have witnessed far to much of over the last 10 years of my Real Estate career.

All the best in 2010. May we all see more quailty in our lives and building practices in the year ahead.

Justin Mitchell

Ecohouse / Dwell Realty