Radically Sustainable Buildings

". . . the Earthship is the epitome of sustainable design and construction. No part of sustainable living has been ignored in this ingenious building."

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  • Tax paying citizens without taxing the infrastructure."

    Tax paying citizens without taxing the infrastructure."

  • Comfort in Any Climate

    Comfort in Any Climate

Patagonia Earthship Academy Global Session

Patagonia Earthship Academy Global Session

We will teach hands-on building techniques and Earthship design and systems classes while constructing a 3 U Earthship based on the Simple Survival design.
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Nightly Rentals

Nightly Rentals

Unique, fully furnished homes to experience completely sustainable, off-grid living.
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Philadelphia Earthship Workshops

Philadelphia Earthship Workshops

Upcoming Workshops. All of the Philadelphia workshops are family friendly. 18 and under is free. Attend one or multiple days
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Earthship Academy

Earthship Academy

Extensive training in Earthship design principles, construction methods and philosophy
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‘Earthship’ revolution in the US

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Once described as ‘idiotic’, new eco-friendly, self-sustaining homes are proving its critics wrong.

Taos, United States – It’s a green architectural movement that took root in the desert of New Mexico some 40 years ago. That’s when Michael Reynolds, 69, began experimenting with building homes out of garbage and natural materials that he called “Earthships”.

“I was [called] an idiot for building out of garbage, but people are starting to realise that maybe there is something to look at here,” Reynolds told Al Jazeera. Although it hasn’t been an easy journey, Earthships are becoming a more mainstream housing option. Today, people are living in Earthships in 50 states across the US, and in at least 25 countries around the world.

Earthships are built by digging at least 1.2m below the earth’s surface, where the temperature remains stable throughout the year, thereby needing no fossil fuel-derived energy for cooling or heating. Exterior walls are made of recycled materials such as truck tyres, used bottles and spent beer cans.

Solar panels and wind turbines on the house generate enough electricity to run electrical appliances.

Earthships also harvest their own water from rain or snow, and store it in a huge tank on the roof. This water goes through a filtration system and is used for drinking and cooking. Read More

Centro comunitário sustentável é construído com lixo

No Malawi, em África, resíduos foram utilizados para construir um centro comunitário sustentável – Centro Comunitário Kapita Earthship, que visa prestar serviços à população local.

malawi earthship casas sustentáveis

O polo de apoio vai contar com estufas para produção de alimentos, sistema de captação de água da chuva e painéis solares para gerar eletricidade. Read More

Earthship village will soon land in Colorado Springs

Earthships aren’t designed to take families out of this world to explore other galaxies. But they are taking off on this planet and will soon land in Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Solar Village is seeking the greenest of the green to form a community of some of the most sustainable homes in existence, Earthships included. The goal, according to developer Dave Hatch, is for the roughly 65-home community to be fully self-reliant for energy.

Hatch is so sold on the idea, he’s offering a free electric car to the first eight buyers to commit.

“Our goal, really, is to bring sustainable housing to everyone in an affordable way,” Hatch said recently.

For now, the 400-acre village is an empty plot of land on France-
ville Coal Mine Road, east of Colorado Springs, but Hatch said he hopes construction will begin in spring. No one has closed on any property yet, but Hatch is confident the idea will catch on.

“I am sure there are 65 people in this county who think this is a pretty neat thing,” he said. “I’m sure of it.”

Hatch said lots are ready for construction, and he plans to put up at least one model home in the spring.

He expects interest will pick up quickly from there.

Lot sizes range from 5 to 
40 acres, starting at $50,000. Home sizes ranging from 800 to 3,000 square feet are expected to cost $200,000 to $600,000, on top of the land purchase. Plans must go through an architectural review before construction.

The project was originally planned as an Earthship-exclusive community, similar to the Earthship village in Taos, N.M., which boasts self-reliant homes partially made with recycled materials such as brightly colored glass bottles that play artistic and structural roles.

But Hatch broadened the types of homes that will be available, an attempt to appeal to more people. So in addition to Earthships, the solar village will include GEOS-designed homes – more conventional-looking but equally solar-reliant – straw-bale and cob design adobe and stucco homes, and other green creations.

There will be another big difference between the Taos community and the one near Colorado Springs. In Taos, Earthships produce their own electricity and harvest rainwater that’s cleaned and recycled for conventional water use, watering indoor and outdoor plants, and flushing toilets.

El Paso County has strict regulations on harvesting rainwater, however, so prospective villagers shouldn’t expect to be self-reliant for H2O.

But as long as water conservation is a prime focus of the development, it will be an asset to the area, said Steve Saint, sustainability coordinator for the Green Cities Coalition.

“Most of the folks in the Green Cities Coalition feel like we really need to address water and food and have a huge effort to shift our dependence on water and food from the outside area to the area itself,” he said.

Since the development is small compared with the total number of homes in El Paso County, the overall impact on energy use will be small, said Kevin Gilford, assistant sustainability director at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. But the village can still serve as an example for greener living.

“The greater impact will be longer term, and that will be that people will realize that there’s another way to build homes,” he said.

Residents of the new village will have to pay a fee for a homeowners association, but Hatch said he is not yet sure what that fee will be.

Roads in the village won’t be paved, and if residents so demand, there could be community gardens and greenhouses, free range chicken and beekeeping facilities, a community barn, an electric car-sharing program and a community house where people can make meals together or hold classes.

That could be key to making it a truly sustainable community, Saint said.

“There needs to be a cultural design as well, so you get not only an eco-village with self-reliant structure, but you also get people who want to build a community together (of people) who want to trade, have potlucks, build chicken coops,” Saint said. “Cultural design would be really important because if it’s just a real estate deal and people are just buying in and selling when the market’s better, that’s not going to work.”

Hatch, who lives in Boulder, said he plans to move to the village once his daughter graduates from high school. He hopes the community will have an educational environment instead of being just another development. He doubts he’d be quite so enthused if he were putting up McMansions, he said.

“Yeah, I’m a businessman,” Hatch said. “But I really get excited about the educational aspect of it.”

Contact Kassondra Cloos: 636-0362

Twitter: @Kassondra Cloos
from gazette.com

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Earthship Academy Wrap-up, Part II

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Earthship Academy wrap-up, Part I

My apologies to those waiting for an update, the last two weeks of the Academy were packed full, and I didn’t have the energy to write, let alone type on the touch screen keyboard of my phone. Also, sometimes a bit of distance gives a better perspective, and I’m 900 miles away from Taos now, back at home.

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Tour an Earthship

This week’s cover story in the Indy pertains to a new housing development, east of Colorado Springs, which will be modeled after a popular Taos, N.M. tourist stop: the Greater World Earthship Community.

A cluster of Earthships — off-grid, sustainably built habitats that are constructed in harmony with nature — should pop up here as soon as spring, 2015.

You can read the full story in our print edition, but should you desire to take an interior tour of some Earthships, watch this slideshow of images taken by Kirsten Jacobsen of Earthship Biotecture, compiled by Indy online content coordinator Craig Lemley.

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7 Good Reasons To Consider Calling An Earthship Home

An earthship is a type of passive solar home made from natural and recycled materials. What’s incredible about them is how luxurious they can be, but how practical and environmentally friendly they are. These are the ideal homes to build if you want to live off the land and off the grid. Here are 7 good reasons to consider calling an earthship home.

1. Earth Ships just kinda kick ass

I mean, just look at it! Who wouldn’t want to live there. It might be made in part from garbage, but it has a pretty amazing feel. I can say for sure that I wouldn’t mind living in one of these homes.

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Earthship ‘biotecture’ stays comfy without utilities

TAOS, N.M. —from http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1012&sid=29474554

If you landed in the desert surrounding this north-central New Mexico town, you might at first think you had landed on another planet.

In a sprawling development a few miles northwest of town, the architecture is so wild and futuristic that it could just as easily be a colonial outpost on the moon.

Yet the homes are largely made of trash, and all are designed to be totally self-sufficient without hookups to any utilities.

It’s a home design know as the Earthship, and the guru who developed it into a distinctive vision of the future will soon be spreading his gospel to Utah.

“It’s a vessel that sails on the seas of tomorrow,” Earthship founder Michael Reynolds said in a recent interview.

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Experience Earthship living

Separating aluminum, paper and plastic trash for recycling is the kind of green most people are familiar with.In the Greater World Earthship Community, everything from the rooftop rainwater catching system to the indoor vegetable garden to the passive solar architecture is of the extreme shade of eco-consciousness.

Raoul the toad hops out of a bedroom and across the flagstone hallway to his home. He lives in a long strip of dirt, gravel and sophisticated water filtration system that give life to banana plants, grape vines, tomatoes, chili peppers, herbs, houseplants and small creatures. In the enclosed foyer beyond the front door, a small lizard seeks warmth from the adobe walls.

Outside, the night sky looks wide and deep, like the ocean, with stars as big as whales. No street lights or power lines mar the landscape.

The quietude extends inside the home, which is decorated with fresh flowers snipped from the live plants. It seems to pulse not with electricity sizzling through its core, but with its own energy.

This is the Euro, one of several rental homes at Earthship Biotecture. A one-story, three-bedroom, two bathroom home with a horizontal hall giving way to each of the rooms, the layout takes some time to get used to. So do the relatively dim lights, unfamiliar gurgling of the water filtration system after the toilet or sinks are used, the absence of a power-hogging microwave and dual water spigots at sinks. One is for drinking and cooking and the other for washing dishes and hands.

All in all, the necessary comforts are all there, and Earthship living elevates the ecological mind and spirit. Here’s what some recent visitors had to say in the guest book on the coffee table in the Euro’s living room.

“It makes it clear to me how wasteful I am in my ordinary life,” wrote a man from Los Angeles, Calif.

“Positive energy,” “comfortable accommodations” and “a modern feel” were other observations.

To check out the rentals, go to http://earthship.com, or call 1-575-751-0462.

 

Located about 15 miles from Taos, N.M., the nation’s first subdivision of Earthships – homes made of dirt-rammed tires, discarded glass bottles and thick adobe – rises out of the desert like a mirage.

But this is no fleeting illusion. Earthship Biotecture, which is the company behind the Earthship, is steadily marching toward its goal of changing the world with radical yet efficient designs that enable people to not only build houses out of what many consider garbage, but also live off the electrical grid – all in an oasis of comfort.

Harmony in housing

“It’s everything people want, as far as amenities, without the constant bills. It’s freeing. It’s like the true American dream,” says Griffin Davis.

For the past year, Davis has been studying building techniques as an intern at Earthship Biotecture, which is part of the Greater World Earthship Community, a subdivision founded in 1994 by New Mexico-resident Michael Reynolds. He’s considered the guru of taking the Earthship model beyond the norm of using recycled and natural materials in construction to complete lifestyle sustainability.

“I’ve been fascinated with the idea,” said Rob Lamborn, a Fort Carson soldier who recently stopped by Earthship Biotecture’s visitors’ center near Taos. “It’s a miraculous concept: Out of waste materials you can easily provide your own shelter, power, water and food supply.

“It’s also visually stunning, being in harmony with the natural environment in a self-sustaining building with no grid infrastructure.”

The visitors’ center, which attracts as many as 100 people a day from around the nation, is a working model. The company also offers training for anyone interested in learning how to build an Earthship. And it supplies teams that do “humanitarian builds” of Earthships for people in struggling countries such as Haiti and Malawi, and others in need, including Hurricane Katrina victims.

“It’s not the answer to all our problems, but I feel like it’s a means to getting there,” Davis said. “You can throw in words like ‘sustainable’ and ‘green,’ but what it really is, is logical. It just makes sense.”

The ABCs of Earthships

The subdivision, just past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, has 70 Earthships with space for a total of 130. The 663-acre site also includes 2 acres of experimental projects, decreed by state law in 2007.

Davis said Reynolds told legislators, in appealing for his cause, “You let people test an atomic bomb in New Mexico, and you won’t let me have 2 acres of sustainable testing?” Among the experiments are one-room “simple survival” units, which Davis calls “basically like camping with walls.” The basic, no-frills structures cost $15,000 to $25,000 to build and feature mud floors, automotive power converters, film solar strips on the roof, a bucket-flush commode, a worm digester for cleansing sink water, a gravity shower and a greenhouse.

The subdivision also has several furnished Earthships that can be rented for a night or extended stays, which last year earned it a spot on online travel site TripAdvisor’s Top 10 quirkiest U.S. lodging properties.

Reynolds’ Earthships meet local building codes. There are various floor plans – from luxury mansions to studio homes – but all designs contain these key elements:

– Natural and recycled materials: Old tires, empty food and drink bottles and cans, dirt, mud, sand and straw form exterior and interior walls and arches. Wood, rocks, concrete and mesh complete the structural components.

– Water harvesting: Rain and snow is captured on the roof and channeled through silt catches into buried cisterns. The water is gravity-fed into a pumping and filtering system that supplies code-required water pressure and clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing. A communitywide well connection is available as a backup source and for fire protection. One inch of water yields two-thirds of a gallon on 1 square foot of roof. Therefore, a 2,000-square-foot roof nets about 10,500 gallons of water a year for saving and recyling.

– Sun and wind power: Horizontal wind turbines and passive solar systems that rely on rechargeable batteries mean no connection to the electrical grid is needed. Enough power is generated to provide lights, required electrical outlets, Wi-Fi connection and television.

– A contained, on-site sewage treatment system: Rubber-lined planters treat filtered rainwater that has been used in sinks and showers. Solar pumps recirculate and plant roots oxygenate the gray water and clean it enough so that it can used again, this time for flushing toilets. Dirty toilet water flows outside to a septic tank and leach field. The filtered water can be used for outdoor landscaping.

– Food production: Abutting the home’s solar panels is a tropical garden with vegetables, fruit trees and other plants that cleanse shower and sink water (and also ingest it) to create a balanced ecosystem. Homes can have ponds with fish, such as tilapia. Succulent plants help eliminate odors.

– Passive thermal heating and cooling dynamics: A series of hand-operated vents, dampers, skylights and solar windows help keep the house at the desired temperature daylong and year-round. “When it’s below zero in the winter, it’s still 72 degrees inside, with no furnace,” Davis said.

The heating, cooling and water filtration systems rely on gravity and the forces of nature to operate, a throwback to the way homes used to be built.

“In the late 1800s, buildings used solar lighting and contained thermal mass, but in the 1940s and ’50s, buildings started to change to be more reliable on mechanical systems,” he said. “Biotecture is achieving sustenance through encountering natural phenomena – sun, wind, water, earth, gravity.”

The cost of saving the planet

Building an Earthship costs about 20 percent more per square foot than a conventional house, said Kirsten Jacobsen, education director for Earthship Biotecture. In the Taos area, that translates to about $215 per square foot. In the Pikes Peak region, it would be about $128.50, according to figures from Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

“The crucial difference being that with a conventional house, you are constantly paying to heat, cool and get electricity to the home,” Jacobsen said. “With an Earthship, all the independent systems that make the home not need utility bills are included in the price of the building.”

Earthships also are artistic, Davis points out. Colored bottles that previously contained water, wine, beer, iced tea, hot sauce, pickles, olives and other products form rainbow patterns on walls and let light in. Unique tile designs on floors and adobe also are eye-catching.

Combine all that with the indoor greenhouse, and “it’s like your home is alive,” Davis said.

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8 Lessons to Help You Prepare for Your Earthship Build

from valhallamovement.com

1. Research the construction codes and regulations in your area

It is absolutely CRUCIAL to understand what your team needs. Do they need a toilet on the land itself? A spot for camping and making fires? How many meals a day will you be providing? If you are also facing land limitations, then make sure you have a back-up plan. Being able to go to the bathroom during a long hard day of work is not to be taken lightly! Read More