Hempcrete Shed

by Jason Puracal, Executive Director

With the pending sale of the Holly House property, East Shore will need to construct a new shed to store our equipment & tools for our grounds. The Board has approved a collaborative project that will construct a new shed using a sustainable building material- hempcrete.

The federal Farm Act was recently signed into law to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp, and companies are quickly changing the landscape of innovation in the Northwest. Already, leaders in sustainability are partnering up to promote the advantages of building with industrial hemp. Pacific Northwest-based start-up companies, ZILA Works and Hempitecture, have joined forces to co-sponsor a weekend workshop to encourage the use of the plant-based material in building construction. ZILA Works has a background in industrial hemp innovation, having developed a patent-pending environmentally friendly alternative to the toxic glue found in industrial and consumer products using hemp. Hempitecture is one of the companies leading the way for hempcrete construction and recently completed an extensive addition and renovation design of the “Highland Hemp House” in Bellingham, Washington.

The companies are working together to educate others in the construction industry about the benefits of hempcrete construction. During the workshop, attendees will learn about working with hempcrete, the best types of projects for the material, and sourcing hemp in light of recent changes to federal law that have legalized the cultivation of the plant. Attendees will also get hands-on experience working with hempcrete in order to build a new shed for the East Shore Unitarian Church. The sponsors will donate the shed to the church after the workshop.

As the Earth and Social Justice Council (ESJCC) and CAM wrote to the Board, they unanimously support the concept and construction plans of the hempcrete shed. They believe that “this project is a way to learn about and test a new building material, hempcrete, to determine its use as a sustainable building material. This valuable social justice cause relates to our principles for the protection of the earth and the interconnected web of life, which the earth supports. By allowing this project to occur on East Shore’s property, the church will provide opportunities for its members to contribute to justice together, enhance its reputation as a liberal religious beacon, and expand its community outreach to work with a variety of other organizations to educate, create, and evaluate. People involved will associate East Shore with our progressive principles. The project will contribute to the Board’s Goals to make our church become a HUB of social justice activism… The project has the potential for many positive impacts for our church, community, and world.”

The project is supported by Sunstrand, a sustainable materials company; Northwest Green Chemistry, a nonprofit that fosters innovation; and Oregon State University, among others.

The workshop dates are still to be determined, most likely end of April or beginning of May. Registration and more information will be announced shortly.

In the meantime, the Grounds Team has chosen a location for the new shed behind (west) of the Education building, and will be starting site prep soon. If you would like to volunteer to help with this project (carpenters and construction savvy folks needed for framing), please contact Jason Puracal at exec@esuc.org.