Alberta firm makes use of hemp to construct tiny properties

Christina Goodvin uses fibrous geothermal hemp concrete blocks to insulate her tiny homes. (Submitted by Christina Goodvin – Photo credit)

An Alberta-based company capitalizes on a burgeoning hemp industry by making the versatile plant a staple ingredient in tiny house construction.

Christina Goodvin, owner of Tiny Homes and the greenhouse design company Goodvin Designs, uses hemp concrete – a mixture of wooden hemp manholes, a lime-based binder, and water – as wall insulation in her Tiny Homes. After curing, the fiber blocks can be placed in drywall, under floors or under a roof.

“It’s basically a way to manage the moisture in the walls,” she told CBC’s Edmonton AM on Thursday.

“In fact, it’s great for any extreme climate, so it’s a great alternative in our northern climates.”

She said the conventional construction is flammable, easy to destroy and produces a lot of waste.

The greener, fire-resistant hemp concrete is hydrothermal, Goodvin said, absorbing excessive moisture when conditions are humid and releasing moisture when dry.

“What you have now is a controlled environment. It’s very comfortable,” she said.

“One of the properties of hemp is that it is naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, so it absorbs odors,” she said, adding that it prevents mold.

Goodvin is hosting a workshop on Saturday and Sunday on the basics of using hempcrete as an infill, from framing to finishing for code-approved builds.

A tiny home is framed and ready for the workshop. Participants learn how to shape, mix and fill walls with hemp concrete.

“You can actually do this yourself if you want, or you can get a lot of friends together and do that too,” she said.

Hemp concrete costs more than traditional insulation because hemp is expensive to process, Goodvin said.

“If you do it right, you will have a healthy indoor climate, you will have a wall system that works with you and feels more comfortable and doesn’t use as much energy,” she said.

WATCH: This Airdrie-based company is also part of Alberta’s growing hempcrete industry

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Goodvin became interested in hemp after moving her two sons from Vancouver Island to a farm in Wabamun, Alta.

“When I moved here, I was looking around to see what’s local and available and stumbled upon hemp, which I found pretty amazing,” she said.

“I wanted to see what I could use out here… the more I buried myself, the more intrigued I became. And I realized that this cousin to cannabis is quite versatile and amazing. “