A team of students in Morocco have successfully developed an environmentally sustainable home made almost exclusively from hemp and solar panels.
The building was erected as an entry into the SUNIMPLANT project’s ‘Solar Decathlon’, a competition organized by the United States Department of Energy and Morocco’s Centre de recherche en Energie solaire et Energies nouvelles to encourage construction of solar-powered buildings.
This design is unique and was built from only locally sourced hemp, vegetable-based bio-resins, and other non-synthetic materials found in the region.
“This ‘spaceship’ is advanced in time and reflects a turn not only in North Africa but in hemp construction, which doesn’t have comparable prototypes anywhere in the world.” — Monika Brümmer, German Architect and Project Leader
Monika is also the co-founder of Adrar Nouh, a Spain-based NGO with a focus on using hemp to build environmentally sustainable homes in Morocco’s poor and rural High Rif region.
The spherical home spans 90 square meters (approximately 969 square feet) and features 24 photovoltaic solar panels with a total price tag of only $120,000. The structure actually costs less than half of the most expensive entries in the competition.
According to Brümmer, the building could be optimized even further if hemp-clay boards were installed as internal partitioning walls and floors. Although funding restrictions did partially obstruct their original goal, the home features some interesting innovations such as hemp wool-derived panels which protect the underside of the solar panels against extreme weather conditions, an important inclusion for a region which reaches up to 114°F in the shade during August and September.
Other contestants included students from Morocco’s National School of Architecture and National School of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics, located in Germany.
Monika’s building offers the opportunity of an entirely off-grid experience, unencumbered by the need for outside electricity while maintaining the comfort of a modern lifestyle.
“The cylindrical envelope of the circular building, with minimal exposure of the 24 exterior panels, gives interior comfort through optimal damping and thermal phase shift, and osmosis of the components in the hempcrete formulation,” said Monika Brümmer, as reported by Hemp Today.
Demand for hemp-based building materials has been high lately, especially as more people learn that ‘hempcrete’ can replace traditional fiberglass, sheetrock, and drywall and offers superior temperature control, flame resistance, and noise reduction.
The product also has the potential to be carbon-neutral, but US-based growers tend to focus on growing hemp for CBD and other compounds instead of hempcrete, which requires taller and more fibrous hemp stalks.
Despite technical difficulties, this Moroccan ‘hemp house’ shows the world that environmentally sustainable construction is possible.
Phillip Schneider is a student as well as a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.
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