Global Fiber Processing
South Bend Industrial Hemp
US Hemp Building Assn.
Saoirse Learning Center
Hemp Building Co
Hemp Build Network
By Jean Lotus
Texas workshop participants this fall will get to test a new handcast building method with hemp and Magnesium Oxide, a combination that builds a cement-like wall infill structure that’s stronger than concrete, organizers say. Magnesium Oxide works like lime to create a vapor-permeable wall assembly, one of the advantages of a hemp-based building.
“MgO is a non-toxic, natural material that is very forgiving and adaptable when used as a building material,” Jennifer Bailey, founder of Blanco, TX-based Saoirse Learning Center told HempBuild Magazine in an email. Additionally, MgO cures quickly and is strengthened by hemp as an organic aggregate, Bailey said.
“We have spent several months making foamed MgO blocks with hemp and they are brilliant in function, when tested next to the aircrete blocks they are 17 times stronger than the aircrete block,” Bailey said.
Bailey said she prefers MgO to lime as a binder because lime is caustic and takes a long time to cure, especially in humid central Texas.
Last year, the folks at Saoirse (pronounced “Soor-sha”) workshopped building a hempcrete “Hemple” structure which cured “very slowly, which gives mold an opportunity to grow,” Bailey said. Additionally, the hemp-lime “remained flakey and never got to be a hard surface,” she said. (Hempcrete is meant as an insulation infill and is not meant to be load-bearing.)
Texas Healthy Homes
Piece by Paz Engineer
“MgO paired with hemp assures mold free, pest free and fire resistant results. It’s a good deal easier to build and finish which gets the building functional sooner,” Bailey said. Bailey said she buys MgO in large sacks for about $850 per metric ton.
The workshop, to be held Oct. 29-Nov. 6 will build a 14 X 20-foot tiny house. The workshop tuition is $799 with additional fees for lodging and food plans.
On 10 acres in Blanco, Texas, about an hour outside of Austin, Saoirse Learning Center is dotted with multiple alternative building structures, including two aircrete domes, and multiple tiny houses, which Bailey rents out for eco-tourism.
“Our mission is to help others create more freedom in their lives by teaching and demonstrating low cost sustainable housing methods and permaculture principles,” Bailey said. Saoirse means “freedom” in gaelic.
Midwest Hemp Council
Solstice Eco Building
US Hemp Building Assn.
The center is three years old, and has been built around the “workshop model” which provides an experience for like-minded people or students who create connections “working side-by-side [with] a crazy amount of fun,” Bailey said.
Bailey hires instructors to do that actual teaching, knowing that structures have to be solid to be used for accommodations. She herself works behind the scenes, making sure participants have what they need.
Instructors include master carpenter Ignacio Acuña from California and certified hemp building instructors James Sledge from North Carolina and Parker Johnson from Colorado, she said. The aircrete domes cost around $40/cubic foot to build and hemp blocks end up costing half as much, Bailey said.
So far, builders at Saoirse have had success with a MgO-hemp subfloor and finished floor in a dome and when used as a stucco/exterior finish on a dome and two hempcrete buildings, she added. The builders at Saoirse have experimented with MgO-hemp blocks as well, but soon found the material too difficult to cut.
Green Building Products
“We created the aircrete blocks in a form and cut the blocks with high gauge fishing wire. The hemp/MgO blocks are too strong for that,” she said. Instead, workshop participants will install the walls of the tiny house with hand-cast material.
Acquiring the land for Saoirse was a lifelong dream based on a vision Bailey said she had in her 20s.
“I was flying over a landscape of circular shaped houses,” she said. “Once I found Domegaia, the organization that provided the instructors to build the domes, and took one of their dome building courses I knew that was the direction I would take. I’d always been intrigued with the domes and appreciative of the earth and fascinated with sustainability.”
Saoirse plans to host about six more workshops in 2023, Bailey said.
NoCo Hemp Expo
Please Support Our Classified Advertisers
(To find out more about advertising CLICK HERE).
Training and Education
Hemp Hurd (shivs)/Hemp Fiber/ Hemp Microfiber
Hempcrete installers/Insulation subcontractors
Hemp Batt Insulation/Supplies
Hemp Building Engineers
Originally published September 22, 2022 on Hemp Building Mag