Rene: ReeferMEDness - The Podcast is pleased to be media partners with the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference. Join the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, October 14th to 15th as we explore the fast-growing cannabis sector among the who's who of the industry. Grab your tickets at www.bzcannabis.com.
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Trevor: We're back. Well, I'm back. You are somewhere else. Kirk, where are you?
Kirk: I am back in small town, Alberta. I'm in visiting this opportunity to visit. I mean, what? We've been locked down for how long and the government open up the borders and I figured before they close them again, I'll sneak out and visit family. Listeners will remember last time I was here for a seven zero anniversary. This time I was here for a seven two. 72 years. My in-laws have been together. Still,.
Trevor: That's incredible.
Kirk: They are unbelievable, still living in their own home. So, yeah, it's So, I'm back here. I'm traveling with vanHoot. I've got some stories from there. We're going to we're going to share later and in a mini episode. Yeah. So, this interview I have with Ann
Trevor: I just going to say that that that seque nicely into the person we're going to hear from today is from Alberta. Not great next to where you are, but in the same general area. Who do we have? Who is the interview for today?
Kirk: Yeah, I've got I've got a lady. I got a lady from central Alberta near Edmonton, and her name is Christina Goodvin. She is a industrial hemp grower. She's in the permaculture. She is an engineer. She describes herself as the person that basically takes care of how the buildings interact with us as people. And yeah,
Trevor: I can't believe this is the first time we've interviewed an engineer. I have lots of friends or isn't. We're engineers. My dad is an engineer. If cards that fall a little bit differently, it wouldn't surprise me if I ended up being an engineer. So, yeah, I think this is our first engineer on the show and it's about time.
Kirk: Well, but it's also interesting when we first talked about this, the first few episodes about cannabis and how you can wear it, you can you can build with it, you can take it as medicine, you can use it as recreation So, you can fertilize, you can fertilize with it. Rope. It's very versatile, very versatile plant. And again, it took us only seventy episodes to find and talked to somebody who builds with it. For me as a nurse, Trevor, this is such a public health issue. As you get more into this story, she starts talking about how the houses we build today are actually very bad for us.
Trevor: Yeah, no, she meant So, that a lot. Yeah, but also because she's a good engineer. I like that she sort of goes into the physical properties of hempcrete another we'll call them hemp related materials and how they not just because she's an engineer, she doesn't just say they work. It's I study and I wrote this down because I don't think I'd heard this before. She is an "energy performance of envelopes," which apparently is the outside of a building of alternative materials, So, she's got the math behind it to sit. Not just I like hemp. It's no, I've done the math. And here's here's why it's good.
Kirk: Again, you know, I should have started this conversation by: Trevor, I've brought you another my cannabis story, you know, because in a sense, this is one of those conversations. I, my sister-in-law, sent me an email. My sister-in-law listens to us, and she sent me an email saying, “Have you heard about these guys?” There is an article in the Edmonton Journal on them. I read it and I got a hold of them. As you listen to the story, you'll see that it's not until I say goodbye to her that actually we get into some meat and potatoes of of the of what she does. I started the conversation. We're talking, you know, she's from Vancouver Island. We come from some of the same haunts. And she's moved to a city that I know about. I've been there. And as we're talking, you know, this is she expected that I didn't know anything about hemp. She was expecting to make jokes about smoke in the buildings, and we got into this conversation and said, Well, this is very nice. Thank you for your time. And boom, we're now into a more heady conversation about off gassing of material in the house. You know, I had to look up Portland concrete versus Hempcrete concrete. Yeah.
Trevor: You know, and and maybe we'll see if some of that for her because she does a much better job. All I know is there's a bunch of different types of concrete and that. But but she goes into that like, that's her the envelope of buildings is her thing. Yeah.
Kirk: Well, and this is not this is not concrete for foundational purposes. I went online and started researching Hempcrete. It's very easy to make. Have you ever done any cement work in your in your time?
Trevor: Well, it's funny, you should ask. Obviously, I was the laborer because I was a student and I learned many, many new words. So, you learn many, many new words and about, you know, you and your your mother when you dump a wheelbarrow full of concrete in the wrong place. So, yes, the the foreman and the other the other workers are, yeah, teach you many, many new insults that you never even thought of.
Kirk: And then there is, and that's how you learn about concrete.
Trevor: And then there is the perpetual jokes about the vibrators. Did you know there's vibrators in concrete? Yeah, they're like, they're like that long and you stick them into the concrete to get the bubbles out. But you know, it's it's an enormous phallic thing that you know a bunch of men make jokes about for the rest of the day there. There's my extensive knowledge.
Kirk: Well, I got online and did some research on what is Portland Lime blends and all that sort of stuff. And essentially from what I can gather, the Portland the Portland concrete is what we built foundations on. So, what she explains to us is the hempcrete. The hempcrete is not when you build foundations on, it's what what basically becomes the insulation of the house. And I love this. I mean, basically real quick here: you add water to a mixture, you add lime to bind it. you let the water and lime mix into a slurry. You add the hemp hurb into the mixture and allow that mix properly. You tilt the mixture and it makes sure you get an even mix. And then as soon as the Hurds are mixed, you stop the mixture and you use it. What I love about this is that if we are to learn how hemp can help us in building, it will help us build healthier buildings. So, I'm wondering, maybe let's get into the conversation with Christina and learn a little bit and then we'll come out of it and see what we learn.
Christina: My name is Christina Goodman. I'm an engineer. Originally from Vancouver Island, now living in Edmonton. About forty five minutes west of Edmonton. Actually, we have about 40 acres out here and out here now I practice and I guess tinkered with different technologies that I can now build on site. I've always specialized in energy performance and envelope of alternative materials, and now I have the land to build those structures and then actually test the performance.
Kirk: That's very cool. I was I was looking at your web page. So, you have you have what? You have a couple of degrees, you have an undergraduate degree in engineering and a master's also.
Christina: Yes. Yeah. Two degrees in engineering. I have my technical writing certification and my permaculture certificate as well. And a few other really nice pieces of paper.
Kirk: Okay. So, you're well qualified and what part? What part of the island are you from?
Christina: Oh, Victoria. I went to UVic, So, I lived in Saanich and Oak Bay and Esquimalt.
Kirk: And oh, we share. We share a history. I, I grew up, I spent some time on Saunders Street in Esquimalt and Cowper Street in Saanich and Panther Street in Gordon Head. And I'm also a grad from I'm also a grad from UVic.
Christina: Well, hello, fellow Islander.
Kirk: Yeah. And I also spent also spent several years in Lac La Biche, Alberta. So, I know Wabamun.
Christina: Oh, nice. OK.
Kirk: Yeah. So, you were. You are an engineer. You are an engineer, and you obviously are focusing on renewable resources and also, I guess, planet friendly structures.
Christina: Well, you know, there's a lot of really nice stuff out there for people who can afford it. But what we need is more solution for people who can't. You know, if you can't afford a million dollar home, what can you do? So, a lot of this technology is very friendly, but doesn't get a lot of attention on the accessibility side, especially coupled with performance and the technical specs that are actually involved with a lot of this that don't get a lot of attention, but should because. They're just as amazing as the idea, right?
Kirk: So, affordable housing is what you're focusing on your land.
Christina: Yes, absolutely. So, smaller scale. Everybody's everybody comes to me and they say, Well, why is your green house So, small and why is that little tiny home So, tiny? And for me, it's because I want anybody to be able to build it with whatever they have on hand, but still get the performance. So, the little green houses, for example, there are only 8x12, but you can put one in your backyard anywhere you are. And that gives you that little slice of food security, especially if you're just starting out right? The little tiny homes, they're just small, but their complete envelopes, So, they'll give you an idea of performance at any scale. So, everything's scalable, but it's also accessible.
Kirk: OK, So, we we captured your story, captured us because you are using hemp products?
Kirk: Yeah. So, wander into that story. Explain to us how hemp is helping you to create affordable living spaces.
Christina: Sure. Well, for me, I guess, especially with the permaculture aspect of things is what is local, what is around you that you can use to make your life more secure living and food wise? So, when I moved to Alberta, I came with a history of cob and straw bale. And I came here and
Kirk: you explain to me what permaculture is? Cob and hay bales?
Christina: Yeah. So, permaculture for me, the designs through which I approach building and design. It's a it's an integration of of all the elements on the site and in the area around you. So, it's basically a community with your land. So, how do you how do you integrate your living into the land and the area around you such that you restore it or regenerated with it? It's a type of partnership. How do you design with the Sun and the sites in the wind and water and access? It's a very holistic way of approaching design, and it also brings in more security, So, if you design with the area around you, you are less likely to be in conflict with any of the elements of that area. And then with cobb and straw bales, that's just a building alternative, building techniques that are popular on the island and in B.C. where I'm from. And I've done a fair amount of work with the energy and performance of those building systems. So, when I came to Alberta, I heard about hempcrete through the permaculture community. And I just wanted to learn more. So, I dug in, and the more I learned, the more amazing and interesting it became. And fast forward, I guess three or four years later, I suppose I'm now obsessed with it. I love it. I think it's probably one of the most amazing materials, local materials that we can use out here. So, now I'm also a licensed hemp, industrial hemp grower, though I need more equipment to scale up on that as well. But one step at a time. So, hopefully that all came through. But yeah, that's like a little in a nutshell.
Kirk: Yeah, no, I got all of that. So, a hemp grower saw you. You said you have 40 acres of land and you are you now growing industrial hemp on that land?
Christina: Well, I did a couple of crops a few years ago, just like small scale, almost boutique crops, just to get an idea of what it's like to grow hemp. And you know, you just fall in love. The more the more you work with the plant, the more you love it. But also, there some significant challenges -- harvesting hemp. The properties that make it So, fabulous as a textile and and building material also make it very challenging to process it. So, I came to a bit of a stop there. So, and I guess because most of the equipment is actually quite large scale and not not really feasible for for little growers. So, hopefully, maybe one of these days I can bring in one of the small hemp processors from Poland. The Hurdmaster, if you've if you heard that, I've heard about it. Yeah, but yeah, I am. I am technically a licensed grower. I just don't have the opportunity to grow on a larger scale because of processing.
Kirk: We have we have a huge hemp industry in our region here in Dauphin.
Kirk: Yeah, we've done we've done a few episodes on hemp growing. And what we've what we have learned is the biggest issue with hemp, of course, is it's grass. And when you cut grass was what's the first thing grass start to do? It starts to ferment and compost. So, yeah, you have. You have to you have to harvest it quickly.
Rene: Yeah. So, I guess I'll encourage you to go into some of our backlogs. We've interviewed some of the best and long term hemp growers in North America live in our region.
Christina: That's fantastic. Okay.
Kirk: So, I'm quite familiar with with the process. So, hempcrete. This is how you build your small homes. I was looking on your web page. Can you explain to our audience what is Hempcrete?
Christina: Okay, sure. Hempcrete uses the Hurd of the plant, which is the inner, kind of woody core. It's similar to bamboo. The core, it looks like a little tube, almost like a thick straw. The exterior layer of that is the textile fiber, and once that's removed, you're left with that inner woody straw, which gets chopped up. And if it's chopped up to a suitable size, usually one inch, approximately half inch to one inch pieces, you can use it as aggregate or as the material with lime and make something called hempcrete. What makes hemp So, great. You don't have to use hemp, but what makes hemp So, great is the porosity of that inner woody core and the properties that it shares with the leafy greens. So, it's antibacterial antifungal. It will many just smell, moisture. The properties, I mean, I'm sure I don't have to tell you. The properties of it are incredible. So, when you mix it with lime, that lime coat, that lime glue, that lime binder. Working with those hemp pieces becomes a fascinating semi structural, not quite structural material that you can use to as infill in your wall.
Kirk: As insulation.
Christina: Yes, it's highly insulated, So, it does also have thermal mass properties. Kind of like cobb. But the dominant behavior is insulation. So, it's completely vapor permeable and will manage moisture, So, it will take in moisture. The wall can handle water. Water can condense inside the wall. And that's actually what will give it the thermal mass properties as the water displaces air. So, what you have also is a phase change in the wall and the phase changes and energy exchange. So, the walls will actually also help passively heat and cool your hopes.
Kirk: So, it's is seasonal, So, like in in the wintertime, where the water freezes inside the walls or like, how does that happen as the seasons change in Canada?
Christina: It's actually it's complementary. So, in the summer, we have different humidity levels. We're typically inside more in the winter as well. So, in the winter, it will actively it will more actively heat, possibly heat your house, but also manage that moisture, that indoor air quality. So, the air, the humidity will be managed and you'll also have air higher air quality because the lime will pass. Yes, passively clean the air. So, it will because because of the PH of the Lime, the anti-microbial antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral properties will help keep that air more clean. So, typically with the flu season, it's the indoor air quality that difference between inside and outside that triggers those seasons. But with a hempcrete house that would be managed,
Kirk: that that has huge implications when you start thinking about what we're learning through this pandemic about. And also, I just, you know, sick building syndromes, this has huge implications for the even commercial building, does it not?
Christina: It absolutely does, yes.
Kirk: So, wander into that conversation. Tell us more about how that would help commercial and I guess long term care facilities, hospitals, self-cleaning buildings, almost eh.
Christina: Yeah, and you know, some more. This is one of the reasons why I'm building full envelopes out here is to, I suppose, quantify this. How clean does it make our air? What is the difference? You know, basically proving or helping direct proof towards these claims. But what you do know for certain is if you walk into a hempcrete building, same as if you are in a cobb building, you can feel the difference. So, there there's something called the skin effect, and that's how comfortable you feel in the space and that has to do with humidity and temperature. So, when you're when you're in a hempcrete building, for example, the temperature could be lowered, So, you're set points for comfort become lower because you are more comfortable in the build. You feel it. So, in addition to the indoor air management, you feel more comfortable, you feel healthier in the building as well.
Kirk: Is that because of the hemp of because of the lime or the combination of the both?
Christina: It's a combination of both. The workhorse is the lime. The lime is what brings the water in and transports it to the hemp. But the hemp does have properties that contribute as well,
Kirk: So, it is compared to cobb is hemp more absorbent. Is hemp stronger and its structure? For example, I I know that in some, some manufacturers are looking at hempcrete as actually being structural. So, it will weight bare.
Christina: Well, what I've seen with that is that's typically an internal frame of some type.
Christina: To make hempcrete structurally, you have to change the binder. So, the binder is the glue and you can change it. But it will. It will change the if you have a pure lime binder, the behavior of the wall is quite different. That is considered like the highest performing moisture properties is the lime. If you add Portland, you get a slower dry from that initial cure and it it's basically, I don't want to say inhibiting, but it can inhibit a larger percentage is the behavior of the wall. So, you won't get you won't get the full properties. But changing it to Portland as you slowly go along that scale of percentages of binder, you end up getting more structural because of course, cement or concrete is structural, but you're losing, I guess, in in a lot of ways the benefits of hempcrete. So, you can pick you can pick like a composition where you have a little bit of Portland, which helps in the initial set because once you pour hempcrete it, it needs to set and dry to get full, to get to the full properties of hempcrete.
Kirk: So, So, I'm trying to visualize this if I'm building a stick house, which is, you know, with structures and just the, you know, spruce trees, 2x4 or 2x6 houses. So, instead of fiberglass insulation, I would then spray in or pour in Hempcrete in between these in between the struts.
Christina: Yes. So, at its simplest consideration, consider a framed house where you choose the insulation type that insulation could be your pink batt could be Rockwall, it could hempcrete.
Kirk: And what and the advantages of hempcrete is the the inside air, as you were saying. But is it cost effective?
Christina: Hopefully, it will be at some point. Right now it's about the same price. But the metrics, of course, are different. When you're when you're looking at the fact that it is, it won't mould. It's almost virtually fireproof and it keeps your indoor air quality optimal for humans. It's it's one of those scenarios where you realize this plant has is our partner in So, many ways, including our buildings.
Kirk: Interesting. Interesting. So, I was looking on your web page. You are for courses. Can you explain these courses you're offering people?
Christina: Sure. So, yeah, as I as I go along, I like to share what I learned, especially because it right now we we need credibility in this in this area. Because in a lot of ways, it's still new. So, what I do is I offer workshops, So, learning how to make hempcrete and it's full disclosure, I'll tell you everything you need to know. You don't have to. You know, I'm not a gateway, So, I'm just an opportunity. So, what I do is I bring people in and depending on what projects I have running, they can be involved in the project or we we can just make blocks. Or, you know, I tailor it a bit. When I start the workshops, I ask people what they're interested in, what do they want to know? If they want to know the technical stuff we can dive straight in? If they want to know the basics, we can sit there too. We can, you know, it's it's an evolving conversation. So, I bring people in and show them what I have out here. I have hempcrete greenhouses. I have the hempcrete dome, I have an outhouse. I have stuff that I've made with shipping crates. I have the new tiny house and they get to see it all in action and they get to feel it. And then, you know, this isn't. The workshops are mainly about learning, but if they want to be, you know, if they really want to get it right up to the elbows, we start with the mixers and we look at the recipes. We mix, we mix on a small scale, we mix on a cement mixer scale and then we mix with the big mixer scale. So, I teach them what to look for to make sure that you have a good hempcrete mix because there are some details. You absolutely have to keep in mind.
Kirk: OK, So, so you're offering people workshops on how to make hempcrete So, people are doing it themselves. But how do people access the hemp? I guess lime's easy enough. But how do you access the Hemp Hurd to make yourself your own hempcrete?
Christina: Sure. Well, that depends on where you are, right? Again, I like to stress local resources, but Canada could be So, amazing in the hemp industry. We have the potential and possibilities that, I mean, just boggles the mind when you think about it. And Alberta, especially, right, Alberta, Alberta spends a lot of time talking about oil sands, but it's completely misses the rich and varied talents and industries that are holistic based like hemp and local food. I could go off a long time on that, but we also have processors, and last fall we had one that started up in Drayton Valley. Hopefully, we have another two coming just all around me. You know, like the hemp that I've built with, with grown 40 minutes away from me and processed about an hour away from me. I love that, and there's more processors coming all the time. So, right now I think find what's closest and support them and stimulate, like, stimulate, stimulate, stimulate, like let's just get those industries up and running.
Kirk: So, did these hemp farms grow because you went to them and said, Hey, I have an idea to make Hempcrete? Can you grow me some hemp or were they already growing hemp? What came first? The your idea of Hempcrete or the hemp was or was growing across the street?
Christina: Well, everybody usually grows hemp for the seed, right? Okay, especially with our crazy Bizzaro regulations. So, the last I don't know how many years the farmers have been promised a lot of things for their seed. And then, of course, the the stocks which are unregulated. Excuse me, the the. I guess, for the most part, just baled it up, and a lot of those bales have been sitting for years and years and years. So, there are some bumps and turns and twists, but the crops have always been here. And I suppose the building materials are a waste from those crops, mostly mostly it's been seed and I think more now for flower, as well as as the regulations develop and change and hopefully grow.
Kirk: Okay. So, again, I'm just trying to just trying to walk through the process to you, move. You move to Alberta. You're trying to create, you know, livable spaces, affordable livable spaces. And you notice that there was a hemp farm down the road. Did you go to them and say, Can I have some of those bales?
Christina: I absolutely did. OK, that's me. In a nutshell, what I what I learned about something, I show up like, Hello, what I've heard you have something interesting.
Kirk: So, you So, you took those bales home and played with the lime,
Christina: and I took the processed Hurd home. So, I, you know, when I find something interesting, I go looking for it. I start hunting and I want to know who has it and how I can get more of it. And then how I can let other people know. So, yeah, I just I take it home. I actually a friend of mine, Chris Boudreaux. He's the one that got me involved in hempcrete and offered a workshop. So, I learned in the workshop, I learned some interesting things in the workshop. And then I did some research and then I set my own process based on that research. From my days in alternative building, I know many people in Canada. Many great people. And one of them is Chris Magwood in Ontario, and he has a great Hempcrete book. Fantastic. And So, I started following the recipes in that and working with that and developing from that start point recipes and procedures and processes and then workshops.
Kirk: So, you're currently working on hempcrete as an installation factor.
Christina: As an infill, So, a wall infill. Yeah. Typically thought of as like insulation in stud framing.
Kirk: OK, it's it's not weight bearing. No, no. OK. I'm also looking at your beehives. I'm a I'm a I'm I'm associated with a beekeeper. I play in bee yards every summer and spring fall, So, I'm very familiar with with a beehive and I'm looking at yours right now. So, the the hempcrete, it's the borders are the sidewalls I see. Like, you've got wood as the structural frame and then you've got the hempcrete as the sidewalls.
Christina: Yeah. Well, this is this is a developing prototype. As we know, honey supers are really heavy.
Kirk: Especially when they're filled with honey.
Christina: Yes. Yes. And I'm I'm a strong gal. They're still pretty heavy for me, and I love my bees. I love them So, much that I'm, I guess I'm tired of them dying, you know, like, it's really hard to be a beekeeper and want your your hives falter through no fault of your own with these crazy seasonal changes. So, one of the things I vowed is to to leave the bees for now, because my hives did not survive a couple of years ago and build a bee house out of hempcrete, but also consider a bee hive. It's a bit tricky. So, one of the things that's happening now is I'm also involved heavily with 3D printing. I run a very small print firm and I also have a clay printer. So, what I would like to do is start working towards a printed super that also can be filled with hempcrete, but can also hold, you know, the the honey filled frames So, that that is a developing process right now. Okay. The general idea?
Kirk: Well, that would be very interesting because you talk about environments and if you're creating an environment for the bees where it's, you know, it's controlling your humidity inside the hives, that's that's. And that would be an incredible for for overwintering because that is one of the things we lose probably 30 percent of our hives over winter.
Christina: Yeah. Yeah.
Kirk: So, that would offer the bees an environment, I guess, like you say, when you walk into a house for them, you can feel the environment of sort of bees would do, yeah.
Christina: And you know, the same thing for us, antibacterial, antifungal antiviral. Maybe, maybe it would be the thing that would help them give them that extra little boost to get over those mite loads, you know?
Kirk: Yeah. Yeah, very good. Very. Interesting, I should talk to my my my apirates friend about this, this is very cool.
Christina: Yeah, yeah, it's it's you know, I've been a beekeeper on and off for for a few years and it it just breaks my heart like you love. You love your bees.
Kirk: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Searching for the searching for the Queen every every spring is a very nice, nice way to spend a day.
Christina: Yeah. And it just it just breaks your heart when they don't make it through those shoulder seasons and here, like, it's just So, hard, you know, with these weird temperature swings. So, the bee house is an idea to help manage those temperature swings. And then the beehive is the idea to go inside the Bee House to help them deal with those mite loads and all those other stressors that the they're just having a hard time. I just I've had my heart broken So, many times and I need to help them somehow. You know, I have to do something for them. So, this this is my my quest is to to maybe help develop a better hive.
Kirk: No, that's that's a that's a good quest. Our podcast focuses on cannabis and hemp, obviously is part of the sativa plant. What would you want our listeners to know about hemp? What sort of the what? How do you sell cannabis to people in the building building industry?
Christina: Oh, that's a good question. I mean, there's a lot of entry points to this plant, right? For me, I'm because I've always been involved in in building an accessible building, especially living security. I guess it depends on your values. So, I I also think it's important to understand all aspects of the plant and grow it. Like get it growing. One one of the biggest parts of food security is growing your own food. And if part of that, even a few plants, I think, would help anybody understand the beneficial aspects of it. Just get some seeds, stick them in the ground. And, you know, in addition to growing pumpkins and carrots and potatoes, grow hemp just to get to know it. And I think the more anybody gets to know it, the more they will also fall in love with it and understand it's it's one of our partners. It's our partner in health, it's our partner and living. It's our partner in food and medicine. Just grow it. Just I think to anybody, I would say, start growing, thinks anything, just start growing and hemp especially because you'll you'll get an idea of how it grows in relation to other plants, and it makes a great companion plant as well. And then the use of the different parts of it, I mean, I run a farm. I use hemp everywhere. I would love to get a processor, just a little processor. And grow and process my own and build with it, right, full circle, complete those circles. So, I guess if I were to say anything to anybody, I would just say start growing some. If you're not into cannabis, grow hemp, even if you are into cannabis, grow hemp,
Kirk: Well, they used to say that in the war right in the Second World War, grow hemp for the war effort. Yeah. So, you say you are a structural engineer that your background and you're using hemp in in construction of affordable homes and you're discoveries, it creates a better environment.
Christina: Yeah, actually, I'm a mechanical engineer, So, technically an envelope and building science engineer. So, I deal with how the building interacts with the environment around it. That reflects in structure. But mainly, I'm I'm envelope, I'm I'm how I guess in permaculture I am. I am the person that designs how your building interacts with you in the environment.
Kirk: So, it's all about wellness, isn't it?
Christina: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I have young kids and you can see the seasonal health effects of the buildings our buildings are are terrible. They're toxic, they're flammable. They're it. It's just really hard not to be motivated for something better.
Kirk: Can you can you talk to me a little bit about what off gassing is then like a lot of new homes, desert and with carpets and like, what's the off gassing happens in our house.
Christina: So, off gassing is something that happens when materials are new and get heated or cooled. You'll he'll hear the term VOC, which is volatile organic compounds. So, what happens? I guess one way to explain it, when you get a new car, you get in the car and you smell that new car smell. The new car smell is formaldehyde.
Kirk: Oh, good to know.
Christina: Yeah, yeah. And of course, it's not particularly great for us. So, when you are surrounded by polymers like and polymer based materials, they off gas. This is just something that naturally happens. So, now you have microfibers from your your fiber based items. You have off gassing that comes off anything made out of plastic or plastic compounds. It's just their organic compounds that get in the air. So, when you unwrap like a beach ball or something like that, anything plastic, you open that package and you can smell that right. That smell is off gassing. That happens to all sorts of degrees almost over the entire lifecycle. And of course, when it's hot, it happens faster. Um, it's not great. And, you know, all the microfibers that come off our clothes that come out of a rug that come out of our upholstery, even our pillows where we're surrounded by by microfiber and off gassing. It's quite the rabbit hole when you think about it. I mean, one thing they say to do is to go outside and let stuff off gas outside, right, So, that it's not trapped indoors with you. Which is, I suppose, an option, right? But our our environment is terribly toxic. Low dose, you know, depending on how old it is, you know, the older it is, the more it has already off gas. So, some security might be, the older things are less toxic.
Kirk: Okay, So, buying by buying an old home would would would prevent some of that. So, let's let's get back to the hemp product. Does hempcrete, if you're using hempcret as your infill. Can, that obviously does it absorb some of the off gas? How does that help with off gassing.
Christina: of materials in the house?
Kirk: Yeah, like the hempcrete. If I build my house with hempcrete, is it less off gassing?
Christina: Well, hopefully you will have, well, the hempcrete itself will not off gas VOC. It's nontoxic. The what hempcrete will do is it will dry. So, it will, I suppose in some ways to describe it. Off gas, water right, which of course, is not particularly toxic, especially compared to, you know, conventional building systems that are also highly flammable. If you build a hempcrete house, then fill it with all sorts of things that off gas. Hopefully you have a lot of open windows as well. You don't necessarily want it in your walls. I mean, I suppose it could help, but really sorry, go ahead.
Kirk: No, I'm just I just trying to. I'm just trying to think about what you said. You know, the houses we live in, like you see, you walk into a new house and it smells like a new house or a new car. But if you if you're using hempcrete in your construction, could I would I put drywall over top of hempcrete or would I would the hempcrete be my display wall?
Christina: You can have it that way on the interior, but it is dusty. So, usually what is recommended is a type of plaster. Lime based plaster. So, that you have complementary materials, right? So, the lime plaster coating doesn't inhibit the performance of the wall actually boost performance of the wall in most cases. And externally, you'll have something called a lime render, which keeps the water, you know, the the driving rain or splash back from too much of it getting in your wall, right? So, a nice plaster also allows you to pick your colors. It's kind of like a paint, but also nontoxic.
Kirk: Yeah, I'm looking at I'm looking at your web page for the inside of the the geo geohome you built. It looks like it looks like a big, puffy, fluffy cell I can see. I can see the outline, I can see the outline of the wood structure. So, it would that would that be the inside of my home, as I see on the web page?
Christina: So, the geodesic dome has an embedded internal wood frame. Okay, So, what I did that So, that the Hempcrete completely surrounds the front because sometimes most times you get a little bit of shrinkage, So, you have to manage the shrinkage as the hempcrete dries and that initial cure and dry. So, there is different layers to frame with hempcrete. And that's one of them, and the tiny house is another one of them. And then what you would do is you. I haven't plastered, So, you won't see a plaster on the interior of the dome, but you will see an initial plaster on the exterior of the dome, which is semi waterproof, not fully waterproof yet. I'll be working on that. I just ran out of season last year. Okay. But it does. It's good to have a protective coating because it is a bit dusty. Hempcrete is a little bit flaky, depending on what density you choose, because that's another thing you can choose different densities of hempcrete for different applications.
Kirk: It's So, your business and you're still in the research stage. Are you? Do you have customers that have actually built homes using the hempcrete as their infill?
Christina: Yeah, yeah, I do have clients. For the most part right now, because we need it So, dearly, I'm just outlining performance specs. So, what you can expect of it, how to design with it and how to use it properly to cope. I have a lot of experience doing that with Straw Bales Wall Assembly. I've written guides that have integrated, integrated or helped. I was the lead writer in a team, a great team called as the Alternative Solutions Resource Initiative, and we published a book that helps building professionals understand how straw bales assemblies relate to different parts of the BC building code. I'm hoping to do something like that, starting with Hempcrete as well. So, in a nutshell, I help people understand and those people could be other engineers, structural engineers, for example. I work with a few of those, and I'm part of an engineering group that helps enable use of alternative materials like hempcrete to build the code, whether you're off grid or on grid. And I also do it, you know, I focus on doing that on a small scale here So, that whoever comes, whatever, whatever your goals are, understanding or learnings have been So, far that you see the credibility and technical aspects of hempcrete as well as the beauty.
Kirk: Is there any question I have not asked you yet in regards to using hemp products in buildings?
Christina: I usually get the question and we might as well get it out of the way is "can you smoke the walls, right? "
Kirk: What happens if the house burns, right?
Christina: And I get it. It's funny. But my reply is the only way to get high with industrial hemp is to make a rope and climb it.
Kirk: Yeah, that's yeah, that's a good one. I like that.
Christina: But I would I would say one more thing like we we need more small scale home business level of hemp. I guess explorers who are looking at uses for textiles and more uses for the Hurd. The Hurd makes an excellent mulch. You know, if you're hempcrete, well, you don't like it. It's actually really hard to kick out of hempcrete wall. But if you don't like it, you can just put it in your garden. And I've done that. You know, it makes fantastic mulch. It's just nontoxic all the way around as long as you haven't put Portland in it, right? So, the pure lime binder and Hurd you could just compost it. It composts really fast. Hemp is just useful in a million ways. It's true. So, we just we need more people exploring and creating options for people like, let's why aren't we doing more with hemp textiles locally? It just it boggles my mind. This is as a person who who creates and sells and I guess explorers, we need more explorers in hemp looking to create. Not for a million dollars, just for a modest living even. You know, don't everybody is trying to be a billionaire in hemp right now. But what we need are just home businesses in hemp that can be supported locally. More local options, small scale, community boosting and resilience on a community level.
Kirk: OK, So, what do you think of that?
Trevor: Well, I'm remember I said, you know this much concrete stuff when I was a student in university. So, the main building that we were building had a whack of rebar and more rebar than they thought was reasonable, the people building it. But the reason why it had that much rebar in it is because, well, I grew up next to a nuclear search facility and this was an outbuilding that they were going to do some tests on hydrogen, not not nuclear, irradiated hydrogen, just hydrogen hydrogen, but hydrogen hydrogen can explode. So, this was kind of a bowl shape foundation we were making with a whack of rebar in it. So, if things blew up, they were below straight up. So, that's almost as explosive as all the things I learned about hempcrete from Christina.
Kirk: I was just thinking about the Simpsons episode when there's a leak at the plant, I think your family kind of lives like The Simpsons.
Trevor: The Simpsons were originally the Shewfelts, but you can't copyright stuff had to be changed a little bit.
Kirk: So, a couple of things I liked about this interview is that the quote does, she says. So, what you have also is a phase change in the walls. So, the phase changes our energy exchanges, So, the walls will actually help partly heat and cool your house and how it actually also controls the moisture in the house. So, we're talking about energy efficient. The other thing that I like about hempcrete. Fire resistant. You know, flame is flame retardant. No smoke. It doesn't mould. can you image building a house that is fire resistant, flame retardant doesn't spread smoke and no mould, and it controls the energy in your house.
Trevor: And depending on where you live, you could theoretically get all or most of the materials to build your house like within that magic 100 miles of your house, right?
Kirk: The permaculture? Yeah, the permaculture society I really like. I say, I think you can hear my voice as I talk to her, and I'm hoping we can get the whole interview in as the more and more I talked to her. She know, and she's also studying this now, Trevor, because she doesn't really get into it, but she sort of makes these nuanced comments like she's actually researching papers on on the work that she's doing to demonstrate what they think they know. Yeah. So, we're, you know, had a couple of years. We're going to have demonstrated knowledge that that hemp have makes our houses safer.
Trevor: And from and I'm going to get the terminology wrong because, you know, from medical brain. But what she described to me kind of sounded like the the engineering version of clinical practice guidelines. So, they're kind of developing guidelines on how this should be done. So, you know, yeah, the recipe book that instruction, book the guidelines, book what like that sounds like she's heavily involved in that, which is, you know, great.
Kirk: It's cool, man. It's just one more, one more notch in the Library of Reefer Medness The Podcast, where we can now say that we've talked to somebody about how your house can be safer and and better for you. All through hemp. I love it. But again, we've got lots of stories to tell Reefer Medness The Podcast. I'm Kirk, I'm a nurse. Was there anything else about this episode that that popped out on your.
Trevor: Trevor Shewfelt. I'm the pharmacist? I should say that at least once an episode. Yeah, know. Like I said, I really like that. And you know, people are not going to be surprised. But you know, it bothers me when people say, Well, I really like hemp or whatever else. X because, you know, the touchy feely, oh, it feels good. It's, you know, it's natural. It's, you know, all these sort of ethereal terms. This is an engineer who did the math, she did the math, and she can show you the math on how good it is versus other things like you even asked her about hempcrete versus pink insulation. And she can tell you, Well, you know, it's better at this, worst at that. Like, it's this is not. This is not just, you know, ethereal stuff. This is, you know, a hard nosed engineer has done the math and it looks good.
Kirk: I think I think hemp once again stands up and says I can help society be a better, healthier place. Another reason for doing this podcast?
Trevor: Yeah, no. This is I would have never thought we'd be talking to engineers about hempcrete this, you know, I won't be surprised when we do the eventual, you know, hemp clothing or, you know, a few other things that you know, I have heard of for hemp. But honestly, I don't think I've ever heard of hempcrete before. So, it was nice to have something way out in left field come and go, Oh, that's really cool.
Kirk: Another another hemp story that will put it on the web page. And when you come to the reefermed.ca web page, you can search keywords in this episode should pop up.
Trevor: Kirk another good one. Any music for this one?
Kirk: She she picked her cousin, I believe.
Christina: Well, I mean, I have a cousin in country music.
Kirk: That's fine. Well, we have played everything from electro pop to Ukrainian folk music. So, we'll play. We'll play it all.
Christina: Aaron? Aaron Goodvin.
Christina: He's national he's pretty big.
Kirk: OK, well, thank you very much.
Christina: OK. No worries. Thank you. Take care.
Trevor: See ya everybody.
Kirk: I've completely lost my train of thought. Fuck.