On this episode of the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp Podcast, we talked to Mattie Mead, founder and CEO of Hempitecture, a company based in Idaho that makes bio-based building materials designed to replace conventional, toxic building materials.
The company started off building hempcrete structures, but has pivoted to become a manufacturer of HempWool, a replacement for fiberglass insulation.
We talk about how and why Mead founded Hempitecture, from the early days of cast in place hempcrete building to to developing sustainable products to replace toxic materials in the construction space.
Hempitecture on Facebook
Hempitecture on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/hempitecture/
Read a transcript of this podcast:
Mattie Mead: And so not only are we building with things that are unsustainable, we’re building with things that are unhealthy, which for me really took me by surprise and really encouraged the work that we’re doing today.
Eric Hurlock: That’s Mattie Mead, founder and CEO of Hempitecture maker of bio based building materials designed to replace conventional toxic building materials. This is the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp podcast. My name is Eric Hurlock. And so today I’m going to talk to Mattie Mead. I met him very briefly this summer out in Montana, but I didn’t get to talk to him very much at all. So today I wanted to find out more about Hempitecture, where they’ve been, where they’re going and what they’re all about. So I learned a lot in this conversation with Mattie Mead, and I think you will, too.
All right, so just a couple of things before we get into my conversation with Mattie Mead from Hempitecture, first a shout out to our sponsor IND HEMP in Fort Benton, Montana. They’ve been our sponsor throughout the entire year of 2021, and I am just deeply grateful for their support of what we’re doing here at Lancaster Farming. So thank you.
All right. The next thing is, I want to give a shout out to the folks at All Together Now Pennsylvania, Americhanvre Cast Hemp, the Hempstead PA and Wild Fox Provisions. If you remember a couple of weeks ago we had Eric and Cameron on talking about Hempcrete Week here in Pennsylvania. And so it was this past week I was intending on going up on Monday to to the hands-on workshop up at Wild Fox Provisions that’s Ben and Karah’s farm in Barto, Pennsylvania. But it was my birthday, and so I stayed here and celebrated with my family. But Ben sent me a video later that night, and it turns out that they had gotten a cake for me. It was decorated with a little hemp leaf. And they all gathered around and sang to me, So very special and and so I just want to give a shout out to Judy Wicks and Cameron MacIntosh, Eric Titus White, Ben and Karah Davies and the whole crew. Really a special group of people that I am very grateful that I have gotten to know through this podcast.
And so what better way to celebrate not only my birthday but hempcrete week, then with a conversation with one of the pioneers of hempcrete Matty Mead from Hempitecture in Idaho?
So here we go.
Eric Hurlock: Mattie made from Hempitecture welcome to the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp podcast, how are you doing today?
Mattie Mead: Hey, Eric, I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me. It’s really a pleasure to be on the show, especially as a fan of the show.
Eric Hurlock: Well, it’s cool. Thank you for saying that. So let’s let’s have an introduction. Tell me who you are and how you got into this hemp business.
Mattie Mead: Oh gosh. Well, first off, yeah, my name is Mattie Mead. I’m the founder and CEO of Hempitecture. And I said, Oh gosh, because how did I get into this industry and this space? And it’s a bit of a story. And if you’ll let me indulge me and sharing that story. And it really goes back to gosh, at this point, many years ago, it was 2012. I was an undergraduate student studying architecture and environmental sciences, went to a pretty small liberal arts college in upstate New York called Hobart College. And it’s in this really beautiful kind of picturesque setting overlooking one of the Finger Lakes in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York. Well, this region has a lot going for it, but historically it’s been a little bit economically depressed. And so in my four years of time at Hobart College, I saw a mountain grow in the distance, and that mountain was far from a natural mountain. It was a mountain of waste. One of the largest super landfills in the northeast was in Seneca Falls, New York, so about a 15 20 minute drive from where my school’s campus was. And it really just kind of intrigued me. I wonder what was going into this landfill and what is the effect of this landfill has on us and on our environment? I mean, you could certainly smell it some days of the week when the wind was blowing just right. And I was pretty blown away to find out that the landfill was actually, you know, of course, municipal waste, food waste, things like that. But a good portion of the waste that was going into the landfill was construction and demolition waste. And it awoke me or woke me to the idea that buildings at their end of life don’t have a solution. They just go to a landfill. They create these mountains all over the United States and those mountains being landfills. And so I became really interested in the idea of building, building materials and circularity. How can a building material be returned to the Earth and not contribute to this problem? And so towards my senior year of college, while I was finishing out my architecture degree and also my environmental sciences minor, I decided to do a thesis study that combined really this interest in the built environment, the natural world and architecture, and the title of this research project that I did was the contemporary relevance of Earth architecture. I was kind of already operating under the assumption that Earth architecture, meaning building materials made from the Earth are more sustainable than building materials that are not from the Earth and building materials that don’t biodegrade. And so in this study, I began looking at different regions of the world and really wanted to know what were people doing before the industrial revolution. How did indigenous people build their homes? How did people build their homes on various in various locations and in various materials? And it was in this research that I found out about hemp and limestone being used as a building material in France. Now, at the time, I didn’t really know a whole lot about industrial hemp. Yet the reading that I came across and the information that I came across really struck me right off the bat, and I think I read something about some homes or buildings in France, and I think I rushed to my architecture advisor’s office and I said, OK, time out, I am going to totally redo this study and I’m going to focus it all on industrial hemp as a building material. I was excited about it and they were like, You know, perhaps you should rethink that. I don’t. Maybe you should just continue with what you’re already doing and figure out a way to channel your interest in this material. But their perspective was maybe it’s so new and maybe there’s not enough information out there to fully do a piece of study on it. So I kind of continued with the path of doing this sort of all encompassing study that looked at straw, Bale, Waddle and and of course, hempcrete and a variety of other natural building methods and to channel that excitement and then. Energy that I had for industrial hemp as a building material, I decided to dabble in some of the entrepreneurship programs at my school, and it was very early on that before I even knew what hempitecture was or would be. I actually came up with the name Hempitecture. I…