Ex-cop builds hempcrete home and plans on running hempcrete-based workshops

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KYNETON man Joe D’Alo is leading a “rediscovery” of hemp as a building material.

Mr D’Alo built the first complete hemp home in Victoria­, has constructed or contributed to several more and is now fielding increased requests­ for guidance on using hempcrete blocks. He left a high-flying career in Victoria Police to pursue his sustainable building ambitions 12 years ago.

Mr D’Alo said hemp farming had been slowly squeezed out of viability in the USA as DuPont promoted nylon and cotton in the 1930s, while composites materials had similarly derailed its use in home construction. Hempcrete consists of hemp hurd (the woody core from hemp plants turned to woodchips), lime binder and water. 

Mr D’Alo, whose product has attained a CodeMark certification­ and GreenSmart accreditation, said a build with hempcrete was likely to be 20 percent more in cost than a standard house. But the reduced energy bills, longevity and health benefits outweighed the costs.

Having rediscovered the value of hemp in the construction of building, Mr D’Alo hopes he can lead a revolution for the plant that has been maligned for being a close relative to the cannabis plant.

But unlike cannabis, hemp has almost no Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

In November, Mr D’Alo will run Kyneton workshops on hempcrete building.