Updated: Jan 16, 2019
In the Fall of 2015, we were lucky enough to have stayed in one of the first hemp homes built in the United States - The Nauhaus. Finished in 2011, The Nauhaus is a high performance natural building system that combines the best of cutting edge modern building science with the advantages of traditional building techniques and lifestyles [American Lime Technology.]
The house features 16-inch hempcrete walls and earthen blocks made from the projects left-over soil. The livingroom includes dual sets of French doors that open to outside, along with a loft and detached dinning room surrounded by windows. Below you can see the first floor, with a front patio enterance, livingroom/kitchen, dining room, entry way and staircase, that leads into a master bedroom with attached bathroom and outdoor deck area.
The basement includes a separate living area and kitchen with a bedroom and bathroom that can be closed off into it's own space, along with a third bedroom, laundry room and outdoor patio.
We could not have been more pleased with our stay. Not only were we visiting during one of the most beautiful times of the year, the weather was perfect and the home offered us all the comfort we could have asked for! There were no electronics throughout the house (no TV, stero, or computer) and believe it or not we didn't even notice until the day we left. Most of the time we were having to much fun at the event, visiting with friends on the patio or relaxing in the livingroom with the doors wide open letting in the crisp, fresh air.
Want to know more about the actual project and the different properties of the home? Here are some bits of information we took from an article in Asheville's Green Home & Living Guide we found on display within the house discussing The Nauhaus and it's history (shown below).
If the weather isn't great outside, say too hot or cold for open windows, the combination of 16-inch walls and the fresh-air-circulation system does an efficient job of keeping the house comfortable. Jeff Buscher says of his time living in the house, "We turned the heat pump off in February and passive solar heat alone kept the house between 68 and 78. There was no overheating, and on a less-than-20-degree winter day without sun, the house only loses a degree or two in a day.
Because the sun shines directly inside the house during the winter, and deflects above the roof line during the summer, we can restrict our use of the four electric mini-split heat pumps that are spread throughout the house. When we do turn them on, those wall-mounted heating and cooling usits are not only great at warming up a room in mere minutes, you can also engage them in dehumidifier mode to decrease lingering humidity you might run into during the middle of the summer.
The home is prewired for solar electric panels (those are not installed yet) so utilities include house electricity (average bill being $57, highest being $93 during January) and power for a well the builders installed when the water department told them the water line was too small to accomodate another house (averaging about $20 a month.)
The roof over the front portch collects rainwater and is covered in flowering succulents.
Needless to say, our time at The Nauhaus was not long enough and it was quite tempting when we were offered an extended stay! It was amazing to witness first hand the potential of hemp construction and sustainable living.
We are inspired and hope to be a part of bringing something like this to Kentucky!
Visit www.thenauhaus.com for more information about The Nauhaus Institue and this project.