Thursday, June 04, 2015

Don Nelson's house of hemp

KIHEI, Maui » Building one of the first homes in Hawaii made of hemp has left Hall of Fame NBA coach Don Nelson open to some friendly ribbing from his Maui neighbors.

“Most of them think they can smoke it,” Nelson said.

While industrial hemp used in the construction of homes comes from the same cannabis sativa plant species as marijuana, it contains only a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive chemical that creates the marijuana high.

“You’d have to smoke a telephone pole worth to get a little buzz on,” said Don’s wife, Joy Nelson.

The walls of the Nelsons’ 700-square-foot guest house are being filled with a material — made out of the chips and fibers of hemp stalk mixed with water and lime — called “hempcrete.”

Once the smaller house is finished later this month, the next project for the Nelsons is to construct the main house on their Sugar Beach oceanfront property — a 6,000 square-foot home — with hempcrete.

Don Nelson, 75, said he wanted to use hempcrete because of its low environmental impact, noting the sustainability of the hemp plant, which can be grown in Hawaii.

“I always felt that hemp was the building material of the future. It’s a wonderful plant. Some day there will be a lot of hemp homes,” Nelson said.

The building material is nontoxic and has other advantages for construction, including being resistant to insects, mildew and fire.

“We’re not killing any trees, which makes us feel good,” said Nelson, the winningest coach in NBA history. Nelson ended his NBA career in 2010 with the Golden State Warriors, the team heading into the NBA Finals Thursday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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