An avant-garde project combining hemp and solar technology
A team of Moroccan students and international experts have succeeded in developing an ecologically sustainable house made almost exclusively from hemp and solar panels. This “hemp house” off the electricity grid stems from the SUNIMPLANT project, designed as an individual house, it was created as a participant in the recent “Solar Decathlon” organized by IRESEN Institute for Research in Solar Energy and New Energies (Morocco ), Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). This biannual international competition challenges student teams to design and construct buildings powered by solar energy. The last edition took place in Ben Guerir, Morocco, and it is the first time that the competition takes place on the African continent.
This design is unique and was constructed only from locally sourced hemp, plant bio-resins and other non-synthetic materials found in the area.
This “spaceship” is advanced in time and reflects a turning point not only in North Africa, but also in hemp construction, which has no comparable prototypes in the world ”. said Monika Brümmer, German architect and project manager
Monika is also the co-founder with Abdellatif Adebibe of Adrar Nouh, a Cooperative based in the Haut Rif Central which is inspired by the resources of a poor and remote region namely the Moroccan Rif Central. Adrar Nouh values the hemp stalks of the region, currently treated as agricultural waste, for the socio-economic development of the same, and the protection of the resources of the cedar forest.
The spherical house spans 90 square meters (approximately 969 square feet) and features 24 photovoltaic solar panels for a total price of just $ 120000. The structure actually costs less than half of the most expensive contributions to the competition.
According to Brümmer, the building could be further optimized if hemp panels were installed as interior partitions and floors. Although funding restrictions partially hampered their original purpose, the house features some interesting innovations such as panels derived from hemp wool that protect the underside of solar panels from extreme weather conditions, an important inclusion for a region that reaches up to 45 ° C in the shade during the months of August and September.
Other partners in this project with the Adrar Nouh cooperative included students from the National School of Architecture and the National School of Applied Sciences of Morocco and the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics, located in Germany.
Monika's building offers the possibility of having a completely off-grid experience, unhindered by the need for external electricity, with minimal exposure to the environment, while retaining the comforts of a modern lifestyle.
“The cylindrical envelope of the circular building, with a minimum exposure of the 24 exterior panels, gives interior comfort thanks to optimal damping and thermal phase shift, and the osmosis of the components in the hemp formulation,” said Monika Brümmer , as reported by Hemp today.
The demand for hemp-based building materials has been of increasing interest lately, especially as more and more people learn that "hemp" can replace fiberglass, sheet rock and traditional drywall and offers superior temperature control, flame resistance and noise reduction and very low gray energy consumption.
The product also has the potential to be carbon neutral, but American growers tend to focus on growing hemp for CBD and other compounds instead of concrete hemp, which requires taller hemp stems. and more fibrous.
Despite the technical difficulties, this Moroccan “hemp house” shows the whole world that it is possible to build in an ecologically sustainable way.