Greater World Earthship Community sunsetMajor Objectives

To reduce the economic and institutional barriers between people and sustainable housing.

To begin reversing the overall negative effect that conventional housing has on the planet.

To create a less stressful existence for people in an effort to reduce the stress that they in turn place on the planet and each other.



To interface economics and ecology in a way that immediately and tangibly affects current pressing problems with existing life styles.

To provide a direction for those who want to live in harmony with their environment.

To empower individuals with the inarguable forces of nature.

To find and distribute knowledge about sustainable lifestyles.

- Produce our own energy
- Harvest our own water
- Contain and treat our own sewage
- Manufacture our own bio-diesel fuel
- Grow much of our own food
- Our buildings heat and cool themselves
- Made utilizing discarded materials of modern society


Step into a sustainable lifestyle now... Is there any place else like this on earth?

Download Community Documents

Disclosure Statement
Info Map
Land User's Code


Introduction and Overview of the
Greater World Earthship Subdivision

The Greater World project is designed to create an ideal condition from which a sustainable community can grow and flourish. Approximately 200 people will live in independent homes built using mostly recycled materials. These solar homes will be capable of growing food year round and will require little or no supplementary utilities. This sets the stage for a non-destructive existence that removes stress from the lives of people and the planet. Forced to become a legal subdivision in 1998, the Greater World Community is now phasing its development, so that building can continue in certain sections, while fulfilling the county’s requirements in others.


Sustainable Living
Greater World is committed to exploring and demonstrating ways to design our homes and modify our lifestyles in order to live without polluting and without depleting our resources; to use no more of our natural resources than is sustainable. Our proposed lifestyle will be based on how much is available, not how much we customarily consume.

This project reflects the experience gained from over 30 years of designing, testing and improving independent homes. These homes are built using recycled materials from Taos County; they make their own electricity from solar panels; catch their own water from rain and snow melt; contain and reuse their own waste water; and provide their own heating and cooling without the use of fossil fuels via passive solar and thermal mass architecture. We continue to evolve basic mechanical components and to simplify structural details toward this goal.




Greater World Earthship Community rainbow


Custom High End and Affordable Housing
Greater World is designed to support diversity by making memberships and sustainable housing available to all income levels. GW is committed to exploring different ways to offer affordable housing and affordable land: owning recreational land in common, availability of different sized lots and various densities of lots, owner participation, reducing and ultimately eliminating utility costs, growing food, recycling, eliminating unnecessary infrastructure, minimizing surveys, etc. We are seeing people build their own Earthships out of pocket. We want to continue to allow that to happen, but conventional financing is available. We continue to evolve basic mechanical components and to simplify structural details toward this goal.

We advocate out of pocket construction, however we are dovetailing into conventional financing methods. Two local lending institutions are eager to finance Earthship construction and sales. Centinel Bank of Taos, 512 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, NM 87571 (505) 758-6700 & Southwestern Mortgage, Inc. 603 Camino De La Placita, Taos, NM 87571 (505) 758-0565. A list of other options is available as well.

  Greater World Earthship Community Map

Self Determination
Greater World is designed, through its existing system of director and board of directors, to allow its members, after initial development, to evolve the nature of the community to reflect an evolving neighborhood vision. GW is committed to taking full responsibility for these choices regarding land/water use by fully disclosing our self-imposed restrictions to potential members and by educating potential members about water use and power use. GW is also committed to protecting the county from any financial and legal impact resulting from these choices.

Reclaim Damaged Lands
The Greater World Sustainable Community project has included within it a project designed to illustrate the potential for the rejuvenation of gravel pits, quarries, mines or other damaged lands through “positive” impact sustainable architecture. This “positive” impact architecture facilitates reuse of all household water and compost for soil building and plant nourishment in and around low profile semi-buried buildings. The very use of these low profile buildings (with their contained sewage systems) provides rich growing areas for both indigenous and exotic plant life. When used together with permaculture techniques to direct and trap surface water run-off, this “positive” impact architecture can steadily reclaim a previously discarded worthless piece of damaged land. Such as the existing gravel pit on this property.

Manage Growth
Greater World is committed to managing our growth at a level that can support the experimental nature of our evolving lifestyles. We expect development to average about 4-5 units per year.
  Research and Development Institute
Greater World’s goal is to make available the valuable lessons we are learning here to anyone interested in living more sustainably. There is a school, seminars, tours, publications, a web site and Earthship nightly rentals to “test drive.” GW has a lot to offer Taos County and any county with concerns about dwindling resources. GW has been doing this work without public funding and under the direction and approval of the appropriate NM State regulatory agencies. As a result of this research, many cottage industries providing employment for Taos County residents have emerged.

Greater World Earthship Community

The Greater World Community is located on a certain tract of land in Cerros de Taos, Taos County, New Mexico, described as part of sections 3, 10, and 15, within Township 26 North, Range 11 East, NMPM. It is approximately 12 miles northwest of the Town of Taos, New Mexico. State Highway 64 runs the entire western boundary of the land. The famous Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is towards the bottom of the topo-location diagram below.


Commonly owned land and facilities:
Sizes of individually owned (fee simple title) lots in this community have been established at three acres or less. This allows an additional 347 acres of commonly owned park land. Every member will own their own lot individually and will be common owner in the park land. This land will be administrated by a Board of Directors elected by the community as per the Articles of Association and By Laws of the Greater World Land User’s Association.

  Earthship Entry

During the development of Phase Four, the sports park and community building located in Phase One will be developed.

At build out, there will be 347 acres of commonly owned land, a sports park and community building, a solar well, and two transfer stations. One transfer station will be in place at the opening of Phase Three and the other at the opening of Phase Four. All of these facilities will be maintained by the community after they are in place as administrated by the Board of Directors for the Greater World Community. The Initiator/Developer of the community will maintain the facilities that are in place until the opening of Phase Three. At that time a Board of Directors will be established to carry on with these responsibilities.


Transportation plan:
An objective of the transportation plan is to keep the impact of roadways to a minimum in order to preserve the beauty of the natural terrain as much as possible. To that end we are proposing one major through road servicing many small low impact roads ending in cul-de-sacs.

The main through road of the Greater World Community is called Earthship Way. This road will be a type B road at final build out. During development, parts of it will be compacted sub-grade prep for a type B road. It enters the community near the southern boundary of the property and exits near the northern boundary. Both of these highway access points were existing. One was for ranching and one was for the existing gravel pit.


There are two areas of the project that are inaccessible from this main through road due to the configuration of the lava gorge and its “tributaries”. One of these areas is serviced by a minor road called Shell Lane and the other area inaccessible from Earthship Way is Lone tree Lane. Both of these roads and all other roads will be low impact and are to be eighteen feet wide and have type C surfaces with 50 foot radius cul-de-sacs at the end.
The road plan on page 7 shows the roads in the Greater World Community and their names. Final build out is expected to take twenty years.

Roads will occur as phases are opened and as development requires.

Commercial use areas:
There is only one light commercial area aimed at encouraging cottage industry and office or studio spaces. This area would accommodate any future non residential applications and would follow the same rules as the residential areas. This area is at the southern most end of the property on the beginning of Earthship Way and on Lava Lane. It is partially developed (before subdivision status) and scheduled for phase three.

Solid waste disposal plan
One of the objectives of this sustainable community is to demonstrate the reuse of by-products of our society. To that end, the thermally dynamic buildings are structured with earth rammed automobile tires -approved on a case by case bases in New Mexico and around the world for twenty years. Aluminum cans and glass bottles are used as bricks for minor planter walls and partitions. Hard plastic containers are ground up and mixed with pumice in the waste water treatment systems. These materials will be collected for reuse at two transfer stations located at opposite ends of the property.

One transfer station will be at the northern end of the property and one will be toward the southern end. These transfer stations will provide “earth bermed bins” for aluminum cans, steel cans, plastics, glass bottles and jars, and tires. Compost is expected to be used by each home owner on their sites to help enrich the desert terrain. A leased dumpster from a local waste management company will be provided at each station for the remaining solid waste.


Phasing, timing and/or staging plan
The time expected for development is twenty years or longer. This depends on the county’s ability to process phases as they are presented. Due to Taos county financial problems, this process is currently a very slow process and could effect the developmental time projected for this community. Phase One is open. Phase Two is being applied for in late 2000 and Phases Three and Four are proposed for 2002 and 2003.
Proposed deed restrictions, covenants and codes
Please see the community documents found on pages 33 - 47

All restrictions and covenants are subject to evolution as the community develops. In this case, situations with existing members will be “grandfathered in”.


Greater World Earthship Community Map

Map of the Greater World Subdivision
633 acres total

130 home sites totaling 286 acres
All for single family dwellings
average 5 acres per home site

79 regular home sites - 3 acre mean
237 acres, 12 sites in phase 1 (gravel pit) are less than 3 acres

42 affordable home sites - 1 acre mean
40 acres, 12 sites in phase 1 (gravel pit) are less than 1 acre

9 home/light commercial sites - 1 acre mean
9 acres

347 acres
of common natural park land


  • 1000 s.f. community building
  • Amphitheater
  • Sport Park: volleyball, basketball and horseshoe courts
  • International Institute for Sustainable Living with public educational facility
  • Hiking and Horseback riding on 347 acres of common land
  • Two Recycling/Transfer Stations


Members will be provided with a membership certificate and a deed which will allow, define and locate the member's lodging site as well as their ultimate interest in the common lands. A membership can only be obtained by the purchase of a lot/building site. Lots are paid for in full before construction begins and before a deed or a membership certificate is granted. Members cannot build any more actual interior floor space than the square footage described on the membership certificate. A member must get Association approval by the community Design Review Board for and in some cases pay a fee for any land modifications, walls, fences or structures other than the square footage listed on the membership certificate. Each member’s individually owned lot will be defined by survey and deed.

All members accepted into the association are assumed to understand and be in agreement with the experimental nature of the G.W. program. All members are also assumed to understand and be in agreement with the enforcements of these restrictions described in another paragraph of this document.

In that the Greater World Community became (at the mandate of Taos County) a subdivision after it was already established as a community, rules and regulations of the subdivision will prevail over previously established rules and regulations of the community.

All permanent buildings of any kind will be based on the Earthship concept as described in the books Earthship Volume I, Earthship Volume II, Earthship Volume III, and Comfort in any Climate. The homes will be subject to the Land Users Code of the Greater World Community in addition to the Uniform Building Code as used by the state of New Mexico. All design and construction drawing services shall be commissioned exclusively from Earthship Biotecture as this is the source of the most current developments in Earthship design. Except for specifically defined areas or specifically documented arrangements, all structural shells and utility systems will be built under direct supervision of Earthship Biotecture with the option of all interior design and finishing being completed by the owner. Variations will be subject to Greater World approval specifically by the Initiator or current Board of Directors. No portable "Out Buildings" allowed. If storage buildings are desired by members, the architectural nature of such storage buildings must conform to the "Earthship" concept or approved building variations described in the Greater World Land Users Code. Storage buildings can be unfinished on the inside. Open carports can be attached to the lodging or incorporated into the berm. Carports must be contained within 20'-0" of a non-buried exterior wall of the lodging. Enclosed automobile garages count as storage space and are subject to the same definitions, and restrictions. Trailers or mobile homes of all types will be prohibited except those mounted directly on a truck which complies with the large vehicle parking rules (See parking section of this document).

Two story buildings are generally discouraged, except in the southern most portion of the community, the commercial district. Certain building locations however, may lend themselves to two story construction, based on the Earthship concepts, such as steep slopes and lava rock terrain. Two story construction can be approved by the I nitiator or the Design Review Board on request and on a limited basis. In no case may two story construction be more than 30% of square footage on membership certificate unless a variance has been granted by the Initiator or the Design Review Board.

The Greater World community is not a forum for individual experimental projects. It is intended as a demonstration of sustainable living concepts already tested and proven by Earthship Biotecture. Earthship Biotecture is working in cooperation with the New Mexico Construction Industries Division and Taos County and will strictly enforce the Uniform Building Code and the New Mexico tire building code as well as specific sustainable mechanical systems designs discussed in another portion of this document. Aluminum can domes are allowed as long as they are associated with enough thermal mass so as not to require back up heat.

No dwellings will be started without building permits from the New Mexico Construction Industries Division or the Taos County Planning Department. At this time, the State of New Mexico requires an engineer's stamp of approval on all tire construction. Earthship Biotecture can be commissioned to provide these services and will advise members as to the most economical method to obtain permit drawings. All buildings must be built exactly as per permitted drawings.

Earthship Biotecture will build all structural shells with functioning sustainable mechanical systems except for specifically documented owner/builder exceptions. In the case of these exceptions the Earthship Biotectural Staff will inspect buildings under construction to enforce restrictions of this document at their own discretion. Owners may secure supervision, consultation or guidance from Earthship Biotecture. Fees will be charged as per the Earthship Biotecture fee schedule.

Owner built projects will be limited to specific areas with specific documentation to allow such and will be inspected periodically byEarthship Biotecture staff to insure soundness of structure, proper installation of electrical and plumbing systems and compliance with the Land Users Code. Owner built projects are encouraged but Earthship Biotecture must determine if the member is capable of such. Consultation fees will be charged as per the Earthship Biotecture fee schedule. No owner built structure may be sold without final inspection and approval by Earthship Biotecture.

All power, sewage and water systems must be designed and installed under the direct supervision of Earthship Biotecture. All mechanical systems must be built exactly as per permitted and approved drawings. This section will be strictly enforced. All Taos County specific permits and inspections are also required.

Propane is not meant to be the primary source of heat for any building. Propane tanks are allowed to provide heat for cooking and as a back-up for hot water and space heaters. These tanks must be incorporated into the landscape and painted to blend with such.

No power grid electricity shall run on this land. All energy will be solar or wind produced independently by home owners under supervision of Earthship Biotecture and in accordance with New Mexico Building Codes. Limited use of back up generators is allowed if the generator is operated so that neighbors cannot hear it. All electrical wiring shall be done by licensed electricians or by home owners who have passed the home owners wiring exam with appropriate electrical permits and inspections by local officials. It is assumed that all Greater World members are aware of the fact that energy conservation is mandatory in a home that employs solar and wind as the sole supply of electricity. To this end, people who are not capable of energy conservation are discouraged from purchasing a home or lot in this community.

Roof water catches will be built into each dwelling by owners to be used as the primary water supply. These catches will feed individual cisterns from which the water will be filtered and pressurized for household use by solar pumps. Design of these catches must be by Earthship Biotecture. Members will install their individual catches and cisterns at their own expense under supervision of Earthship Biotecture. These catches will be designed by Earthship Biotecture so the catch water will be suitable for drinking. A community well is in place in case of fire and/or emergency situations. It is assumed that all Greater World members are aware of the fact that water conservation is mandatory in a home that employs roof catch systems as the sole supply of water. People who are not capable of living with a conservative approach to the use of water are discouraged from buying a home or lot in this community.

Sewage systems for this community are absolutely conventional septic systems. In that water conservation is an issue, Earthship Biotecture has designed and developed a grey water recycling branch that is in addition to (not in place of) a conventional septic system. These grey water branches will be mandatory in each home as they extend the use of the limited supply of the water catchment systems described above. Members will reuse grey water for landscaping with guidance and approval of all systems from Earthship Biotecture. All toilet systems will employ conventional septic tanks and drainfields and will use additional rubber lined treatment cells for capturing the effluent for landscaping. People who are not willing or capable of maintaining the additional aspects of this sewage system are not encouraged to buy a home or lot in this community.

The Greater World Community is considered a demonstration of the best applications of the Earthship concepts. For this reason all utility apparatus (PV panels, hot water heaters, etc.) must be designed and built into a reasonable aesthetic subject to approval by the initiator and/or the board of directors.

All exterior finishes shall be color coated to blend with surrounding foliage and/or earth for purposes of lowering the overall impact of the architecture on the property. Earth and foliage colored stuccos and paints are required. All other finishes are subject to Design Review Board approval. Exterior tire work shall not remain exposed for more than 2 years at the Greater World.

All construction sites and home sites must be kept organized, neat and free from blowing debris, stacks of junk, garbage, etc. All construction sites are subject to Greater World standards of neatness and organization. Once buildings are complete, storage must be kept inside. Members are advised to allow sufficient storage space in their original building to allow for projected storage since no portable exterior storage units will be permitted. Members are advised to allow an unfinished "U" module specifically for storage. This paragraph will be strictly enforced.

Chain link fences are not allowed in the Greater World Community. Fences are to be of natural materials and approved by the community at large. Fences constructed in the Lemuria Gravel Pit Reclamation Project are to be plastered and are not to surround more than half the area of the member's lot.

The Greater World will immediately provide areas for collection and redistribution of tires, aluminum cans and glass bottles. All biodegradable compost will be used, by each member, for appropriate landscaping and permaculture methods. All other garbage will be taken to one of two Greater World transfer stations and removed under contract with Waste Management. This contract will be maintained by the Initiator and/or the Board of Directors and paid for with the annual dues for Greater World members. It is the members' responsibility under contract to get all recyclables and garbage to the collection areas and/or transfer stations delineated on the Greater World plat map and preliminary developmental maps used during earlier phase of development. Burning of trash is NOT allowed.

Parking at lodging sites will be permitted for 2 (only) transportation vehicles per the first 1000 s.f. of building space and 1 additional vehicle per each additional 1000 s.f. of building space. No junk or dead cars permitted on community land. The community will provide special low profile parking areas for RVs boats, trailers and other large vehicles. These large vehicles cannot be parked at the lodging sites. This will be strictly enforced.

All roads will be provided by the Developer as per Transportation Plan, Tab VI. of subdivision application. These roads will meet Taos County specifications for subdivisions or variances approved by the Transportation Authority and will be maintained by the community after total build out and initial road installation by the Initiator. Driveways and driveway culverts will be the responsibility of individual members and must be wide enough to accomodate emergency vehicles. For the safety of the members and wildlife and for the preservation of the roads, drivers will drive slowly and cautiously at all times.

No tree shall be cut or moved without approval by community directors. The member who moves trees and seedlings is responsible for their replanting elsewhere. No trees or landscaping will be permitted that cannot survive from catch water and/or swale systems.

LEMURIA (phase I)
A. All split level lots in the Lemuria (Phase 1/Gravel Pit Reclamation Project) must allow a forty foot easement across the southern boundary for drainage and green belt. No building, roads or fences are permanent in or across this easement.
B. Vehicular access to the lots on the northern boundary of the Gravel Pit Reclamation Project (Phase 1), is limited to North Lemuria Road. No vehicular access to the lots on the northern boundary of Phase 1 will be permitted from the lower South Lemuria Road. This will be strictly enforced.
C. All building in Phase 1 must be no closer than fifteen feet from property lines.
D. All buildings, walls and out buildings in Phase 1 must be finished on the outside within 12 months from the time of starting. Fines will be imposed for visible unfinished construction in Phase 1 after 12 months.
E. The exterior plaster, roofing and propane tank must be local earth tone colors. Up to 20% of the color may be an alternative complimentary accent color, but no more. These colors are required to be used on all buildings and walls in LEMURIA - the Gravel Pit Reclamation Project.

No large livestock will be permitted in gravel pit colony areas. Small numbers of small livestock (chickens, geese, ducks, goats etc.) will be permitted in any area provided the owner accommodates the animals in a responsible manner such that the animals are not a problem of any kind to neighbors. Large livestock will be confined to one or more common livestock areas to be designated if and when the need arises. Only one dog is allowed per 1000 s.f. of membership. All gravel pit colony memberships are limited to one dog. All dogs are the responsibility of their owners and are subject to community eviction and or specific neighborhood restrictions if necessary. Any dog caught killing livestock from neighboring ranches is subject to being shot by the specific neighbor in question. Complaints from neighbors about any dog or dogs will be acted upon by the Initiator or the Board of Directors.


Only members in good standing can participate in voting on any issue. Members in good standing are defined as follows:

1. Annual dues are paid up to date.
2. Signing the latest membership acceptance form which evolves from time to
time as the community growth and activities require.
3. Received not more than one certified letter of document violation.

Members, upon signing their membership acceptance form, document that they agree to and accept these restrictions and definitions as presented in the Articles of Association, By-laws and Land User's Code. All documents will evolve as per the conditions we encounter in the first five to ten years. Members will be required to validate their agreement to the various document up-dates by signing addendum's as they are issued. Refusal to sign a document update can result in that member not being allowed to vote on community issues.

Failure to follow the restrictions and definitions of the Land User's Code will result in a notice by certified mail or courier. If the specific member still fails to respond to the satisfaction of G.W. or the director/co-directors within two weeks, another certified notice will be sent. Failure to respond to the satisfaction of G.W. or the director/co-directors to the second notice within two weeks will be met with legal action. If legal action is taken against a member relative to enforcement, the member will be held responsible for all legal expenses incurred by the Greater World board of directors in the process of achieving enforcement against that member. Any member who has received a certified warning letter of any kind shall not be allowed on the Board of Directors for four years from the date of the certified letter. All members understand and agree to the above possibility with signing of the membership acceptance form.

The object of this endeavor is to make land available for individuals to participate in the pursuit of sustainable living methods. It is the opinion of the Intiator that these methods may provide more security than conventional methods in years to come. This is not a condominium project, nor a co-op. It is a subdivision governed by an unincorporated association of which all lot owners are members. Greater World is therefore neither a maintenance agency nor a care taker of the land or people. The people through a Board of Directors care for the land and facilities. Greater World is simply an association formed so that many people can use the land in an organized fashion to pursue a more mentally, physically, spiritually and ecologically healthy way of life on this planet Earth under the direction of the Greater World Land Users Code. Anyone not in full agreement with the above and unwilling to take responsibility themselves for their own participation in this project is not encouraged to buy a home or lot in this community. Potential members of this community should be advised that the energy and water conservation methods put into practice here will require them to adapt to some degree. It is the opinion of the Initiator that this type of adaptation will be required of conventional methods in years to come. This project is simply a trial run for things to come. It is not a typical subdivision. It is a demonstration project and potential members should consider this before they purchase a home or lot in this community.








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Construction Drawings

Designed to meet Standard Building Codes.
Earthships can be built in any part of the world, in any climate and still provide you with what you need to survive, with 'modern' amenities, if desired.

- Simple Survival Earthship
- Packaged Earthship
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Contact Us for Details phone: 575-751-0462

Global Earthship
Studio -- $5,000 click to purchase
One bedroom -- $6,000 click to purchase
Two bedroom -- $7,000 click to purchase
Three bedroom -- $8,000 click to purchase

- 30 pages in color, two sets.
- 11 x 17, includes five CAD views.
- Includes details for trusses and vigas, two hours of free follow up consultation and one 'Ground Up' DVD
- Changes or custom modifications are available at hourly rates.

About Earthship Biotecture

Earthship construction drawings are designed to meet standard building code requirements so you can get a permit no matter where you are. Earthship Biotecture is beyond LEED Architecture. Earthships are green buildings that meet standard building codes. EarthshipBiotecture is based on the work of principal architect, Michael Reynolds. (see: media resume)

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Contact Us

Main Office and Nightly Rentals
+1 (575) 751-0462
Visitor Center +1 (575) 613-4409

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1041
Taos, NM  87571