Read this. Understand this.
Then you will be ready to determine your floor plan, your building site location, construction drawings, permits, etc.
This information is designed to provide the information necessary for people to secure the type of sustainable housing that will soon be a necessity. We cover concepts relative to today’s current way of thinking and ways in which we will we have to think in the future as a species in order to survive on this planet. We must evolve.
Michael Reynolds is a world famous architect who has spent the last forty plus years evolving the concept of home as well as the home itself. His vision is for the home to care for the inhabitants and not vice versa. With this logical goal in mind he set out to design and refine the Earthship. After forty years it is now an affordable reality. Designed with concepts that any person can adopt, these buildings can provide housing for the people.
During this evolution of the building concept other ideas arose. Why is this so important for humanity? How can we make this improve a persons existence? And finally how do we make it so everyone can have one especially in third world countries where the functionality of these buildings would save lives.
In short it is not only about building it is about humanity and its needs.
A Look At You
You can effect the cost of your home radically by examining yourself to determine what your real needs are. We blame codes and regulations for the high price of new directions in housing and this is certainly part of it. The other part of the reason for homes costing so much is what individuals think they need.
When you climb a mountain you are going to carry what you need on your back you only have to climb one mountain to know that you will do some serious thinking about what you need for the next climb. In our world today we are surely carrying what we think we need. Japan is now carrying what it thought it needed for the next several thousand years.
You can start with basic survival needs and go from there. It is just a matter of how “light” you can get your life and how much of your “needs” you can redefine, evolve or disintegrate. What are needs anyway? Do you want to take a piano up the mountain with you. You won’t try that but once.
My observations all over the world show me that many people get what thy think they need and the process of getting it leaves them with no time to use or enjoy it. Does this mean time is one of our needs? Is quality of life one of our needs? Is owning our life one of our needs?
Many years ago I built an early version of the survival model we are presenting now. I built the building out of pocket with help from friends. It made its own power and water and treated its own sewage and stayed comfortable with minimal fuel. It also produced a reasonable amount of food. I lived there for a while in total freedom because I had no bills. I owned my life. I did not need to work. It was amazing to wake up every day and do what ever I wanted. I enjoyed this so much that I began to think, “what if this was available to everyone?” I observed the aspects of this life that made this freedom possible and one of them was that I had minimized my needs to the point that I could easily provide for them even with an antiquated version of the Earthship we build today. I only came back to this world to try and make it so others could have this freedom I had found. I have spent a lot of time trying to simplify and develop the Earthship systems but I am only now beginning to see how important it is to somehow convey to people that the systems are a lot less involved and expensive if you can reduce your needs. This takes some inner development to achieve but the end result is a much easier life both for you and the planet. I look at these days I spent living there as some of the best days of my life. Traveling light is the wings of life. Keep this in mind as you choose which version of the Earthship to use.
A Look At Climate
There are only a few factors concerning climate that would discourage you from building in a location. One is precipitation. You should have at least five inches of total annual precipitation per year. If your area does not see that amount of precipitation then you should have a water table of less than sixty feet so you can pump with a solar well into your cisterns. You can pump from deeper but it gets expensive fast.
You should also look at available sunlight per year. If you have very little, you will need back up electricity of some kind, such as wind, hydro or conventional grid. The newer solar panels are starting to be close to 40% efficient on cloudy days, however, soon the technology will exist for power to be made just from the light through the clouds.
The beauty of the Earthship concept is that it makes all of its own utilities so you can find really cheap land where there is no hope for utilities. You can find hard to get to but extremely beautiful land that no one would ever think to build on and find it for a good price. The nature of an Earthship allows for building in remote locations and can thus save a lot of money in the purchase of your land.
A Look At The Location of Your Earthship
Location is a serious factor in the whole process of acquiring an Earthship. We have seen the permit process cause people a lot of expense and time. In retrospect I would tell these people to choose some place else to live. The permit officials can make the drawing process more expensive and take longer and at the same time water down the concepts to the point of making them only 50% of their intended efficiency.
For example, we had a man come in from Pima County, Arizona. It took him three years and several redraws and three times the price of the original drawings to finally get a permit. Then when he did get it, the building was so watered down from its original concept that that it wouldn’t work as well and it cost three times what it would have. This is the regulatory process that is meant to protect the people. All it really does is inhibit evolution.
A good example comes from a man who came to us from Crockett, Texas and said that he wanted an Earthship home. He chose the Global model and four months later he walked in the door of his new home. That is the difference that location can make.
Earthships can work in any climate so the weather is not that much of a factor. It is whether you have enforced codes or not that makes the difference. With our culture’s ability to communicate through the internet, facebook, cell phones, etc., you can be in touch with people and still live away from regulatory nightmares. The best bet is to contact the permitting office where ever you are thinking about building and ask what is necessary to build your own home. We are finding that close to half of the continental USA is what we are calling “pockets of freedom,” or areas where the only permitting for building your own home is a septic permit, and that is no problem. We have a conventional septic system inherent in our Earthship sewage treatment design.
Our advice is if your area has strenuous regulations, it will be cheaper to build somewhere else. Many places, however, have permits required but they are very low tech and easy. The Earthship buildings have engineering back up for the design and any permitting office can easily determine that this building will perform and is a valid approach to building especially in todays world. Interview with your permit office to determine whether you are in a pocket of freedom, a light duty permit situation, or a ridiculous bureaucratic nightmare. There are only a few places that are ridiculous to build in and we advise to just stay away from those. One of these places is Ventura County, California. I advise to stay away from there in terms of building anything. There are a few others like that but the percentage is small.
The Argument for Decentralization
Municipalities raise tax money to build coal fired power plants and sewage treatment facilities. There is a tremendous effort to raise funds for such projects, let alone the time involved, sometimes years. At that point the facility has to be designed using the latest technology. Then construction drawings are developed by architects and engineers which adds up to a huge amount of money, and possibly years more.
The project is then built which can again take several years and even more money. In the end the municipality has a new utility facility that took as many as ten years and millions, if not billions of dollars to manifest. No matter what new technology may happen in the following weeks, months and years immediately after the build; the municipality is locked into using this facility for at least fifty years due to the huge investment of time and money that had already gone into the structure. This is how economy and centralization curb evolution.
Viruses and bacteria evolve in hours. Single family cellular homes are built every minute somewhere in the world. Sustainable practices must be implemented on a decentralized individual basis for evolution to happen. If a home is built and something in the technology evolves, then the next home, the next hour will address it. This hourly evolution puts us in a position to survive. Fifty year evolution increments resulting from centralized mega systems are sure to be fatal to the human race.
The Earthship concepts are singular, cellular, individual and decentralized. They are the future.
A Look At The Future
Observations on Earth in early 2011…
How many people went to sleep tonight saddened and worried about the disaster in Japan? Saddened for the people who are suffering and worried about the deadly future that lies before all people due to nuclear power plants dotting the surface of the earth.
How is it that legislative institutions make it difficult to evolve radical sustainable living methods citing minute and insignificant dangers affiliated with the uncharted territory of new thinking? These same institutions allow a nuclear age that threatens the very ability of the entire planet to support human life.
There is a fight going on to stop nuclear power. This fight is with big money corporations and power mongers.
There is a fight going on to provide people with more freedom to take care of themselves in ways that respect and understand the ways of the planet. This fight is with lawmakers and government institutions.
There is a fight going on to use less of everything, to live much lighter
and hear the voice of the planet. This fight is with ourselves.
SHOUT OUT about the nuclear age to any arena that exists.
SPEAK OUT to legislators about fast tracking green building methods and systems.
WHISPER to yourself to take less and give more to the planet we live on.
Dwindling resources, archaic methods of producing centralized utilities, population growth and climate change are all issues that are restricting the flow of human life in the arteries of the future. The Earthship Biotecture concepts require little in the way of natural resources as they use all renewable resources and minimal amounts of those. They produce all utilities on site so there is no infrastructure to maintain and individual humans are empowered and freed to control of their own living circumstances.
Earthships are relatively small cellular units that can evolve rapidly much like a virus or bacteria. This affords them the possibility of dealing with unforeseen aspects of the already visible climate changes on earth.
The rock climber knows the top of the cliff exists.
She has to learn the abilities necessary to get there … and the dangers.
Then the choice has to be made to attempt the climb… for whatever reason…
adventure? challenge? practice?…
or in some cases, there is a need to get to the top…
to get out of the pit or gorge you are in.
Once the choice is made to attempt the climb,
the top is remembered as the direction and inspiration,
but not the focus.
The focus is the climb…
guided and inspired by the direction.
Life becomes all about the next handhold or foothold…
until your hand reaches up over the edge and…
you are there!
We are like rock climbers on this earth.
We know that a better way of living on this planet exists
but there is much vertical wall between us and that “better way”.
We have to learn the abilities necessary to get to this “better way”…
and the dangers.
Then the choice has to be made to attempt to get there.
We have a good reason.
The place we are – the way we are living on this planet – has an end in sight.
In our case it is not a matter of us making the choice, it has been made for us.
We can ignore it, be depressed and overwhelmed by it or…
we can climb.
We can climb out of the pit of faulty existence we are in
and find the “better way”.
The “better way” becomes the direction to guide our climb…
but not the focus.
The focus is the climb…
guided and inspired by the direction; the “better way”.
Life becomes all about the next handhold or foothold.
It is these handholds and footholds we must focus on.
The next month … how do we live?
The next week … how do we live?
The next day… how do we live?
The next hour… how do we live?
The lofty thoughts of how to change the world; or save the world; or make the world a better place, are simply rhetoric unless we actually place the stepping stones on how to get there.
These are the handholds and footholds of the climb.
It is these one-at-a-time handholds and footholds that get us to the top.
It sometimes takes every bit of strength, courage and concentration we can muster
to use them but there is no other way.
We cannot just leap to the top with rhetoric.
We cannot just dream to the top with philosophy.
We cannot just buy our way to the top with money.
We have to climb.
The Earthship Biotecture education… is about this climb.
A Look At The Present
The present shows us that the future is going to require significant changes and evolutions in humanity for there to even to be a future that involves humanity.
The present shows people struggling to decide which direction to go from here. There is much discussion and rhetoric to this effect. One thing is for sure, we need to depart from our present methods of living on this planet.
The current global condition for humans is like a group of people standing on a big rock and the rock is rapidly heating up to the point that their shoes are melting. They are arguing about why the rock is turning to hot lava and who’s fault it is and which way to go while their feet begin to burn. Logic in this situation would have it that…
Any place is better than here, lets leave.
There is not that much that is right with the present way of living on this planet. We cannot crystalize the new direction with laws or doctrines.
We will always be leaving the present until we find an eternal present and the confluence of humans with each other and the planet. The Earthship concepts are an attempt to place stepping stones across the abyss toward this eternal present.
The sun is a reliable “unarguable” phenomenon. It cannot be bought or sold or corrupted. It shines on worms, bugs, white people, black people, plants, germans and jews. It does not discriminate. Without an understanding of its power it is relentless and ruthless but if it is understood it can be a large part of our sustenance. It will kill you if you lay on the beach with no cover for several days. It will save you if you direct its rays into a shelter made of mass. It is up to the one who encounters the sun to understand how to encounter its unarguable power and benefit, not die, from it. This is the way of all earth phenomena. We understand… we whisper to them and we find sustenance free for the taking for all people. This is the knowledge of unarguable phenomena we need all people to have. So that all people have everything for free all the time. They do not have to buy the sun. They encounter it. No longer is economy between us and sustenance.
In this scenario, all people are equal in their ability to encounter natural earth phenomena. This is taught and learned. No one can ever take this from you. The economy crashes, you still have the ability to encounter the unarguable phenomena for sustenance. They are always there.They do not make promises they can’t keep. They are transparent. They are true. You are the only variable factor of your own sustenance. All you need is the vessel to float and encounter in this world of sustenance for everyone. The Earthship is that vessel… earthship.com.
The using of less results in the needing of less
Life becomes easier, the burden turns to buoyancy
We think of our energy demands and needs of the future and we wonder… “how we will provide them”? This need, this demand – like an addiction to cocaine – perverts us into thinking we must have nuclear power. This is selling out our planet, our future and even our present ability to exist in a healthy life.
Only extreme sources of power are considered today in a world of extreme needs. What if we cut our needs in half? What if we cut our needs by 75%. This would suddenly make very subtle forms of energy look attractive.
We are crossing a bridge. We weigh four hundred pounds and the bridge is only good for one hundred and seventy pounds. What is the answer? Risk death by trying to cross the bridge with obviously too much weight? Or loose weight?
The point is that when we need radically less energy or food or whatever, lesser forms of energy and food will begin to look interesting. We won’t be jumping to the conclusion that we need massive forms of dangerous energy, like nuclear power. We won’t be able to be convinced by those who play on our own addictions and excessive needs. A small wild strawberry in the forest is thrilling to a creature with a small stomach. To a giant creature with a huge stomach, it is hardly observed at all. This makes me want to reduce the size of my stomach.
I have heard the phrase, “who will feed China in the future?” With less needs in addition to encounters of unarguable phenomena, each individual in China will feed themselves.
The Race Horse and the Jockey
The earth and the people
The race is on and all the horses are nearing the finish line. It is a close race and some jockeys are whipping their horses thinking they will get more out of them. They are riding on top of this creature and whipping it to perform more. They are whipping… abusing the creature that is carrying them. One jockey understands his horse and has a rapport with it and even loves it. He just whispers in the horses ear “lets run now… lets run”. This is the horse that wins the race.
This whipping of the very thing that is carrying them appears to be exactly what people are doing to the earth these days. They are riding on it and whipping and abusing it for more performance, more fuel, more water, more jewels, more…more… more. Those who whisper to the earth “lets run now… lets run” will be the ones who survive. This scenario has appeared to be a good analogy until recently. Now in recent months and years, humans seem to be like a jockey who is franticly stabbing his horse with an ice pick. All this for the prize of winning the race. Economy on the earth has taken on such a powerful role, that the people are stabbing the earth as it carries them… all to make a buck. You cannot eat money. Money cannot sustain you.
The jockeys that were whipping their horses didn’t realize the damage they were doing to their relationship with the horse for the future. They just wanted to win the immediate race and collect the cash. We are whipping and stabbing our host, the earth, not realizing what will happen after this next pay check. We are not considering a relationship with the earth… a lasting relationship… just the “economics” of the immediate race. This monster, economy, has driven us to be monsters. We are fully driven by economy and for what? It will let us down, drop us ruthlessly in a heart beat.
This thing called economy has pitted us against our host the earth and each other.
Economy lies between us and peace.
Sustenance through whispering to the earth phenomena will be unarguable and stable.
It will be non corruptible. It will provide beyond any economy. It will be the foundation of civilization and the host of an insignificant economy.
A flock of birds all leave the ground at the same time
and rise up into the air.
They dart one way and then the other…
all in unison as if controlled by one brain.
This has to require a full awareness of the whole flock
by each individual bird.
No one bird can be self absorbed so much that it
ruins the single fluid motion of the entire flock.
This extension of awareness beyond ones own body
and into the entire flock is the key to the singular motion of the flock as they move about in the air.
Humans do not seem to have discovered this extended awareness.
They have trouble being aware of the motions, feelings, and the needs of other humans in the room…
in the land…
in the world.
This is why humans struggle with each other and the earth.
They cannot extend their awareness to each other.
They cannot extend their awareness to the earth.
They are colliding with each other and with the earth.
The extension of awareness is the key to the sustainability of humans on the earth.
Humans must move in a fluid unison with each other and with the earth.
Fluid thinking leads to fluid motion.
Fluid motion leads to fluid activity.
Fluid activity leads to a confluence of all humans
and of humans and the earth.
This is what green is.
God is green.
The provision of shelter, water, electricity, food and sanitation for all people is not necessarily a moralistic or spiritual thought, it is simple logic. Logic is the door to almost every issue facing humanity, the problem lies in clearing the fear and dogma away in order to see the obvious solution. This is the case with “tomato security.”
Our civilization’s dogma has taught us to take a strong hold and then defend what is ours against others who would take it from us. Take for example having a secure life and home that provides all your basic necessities through encounter with earth phenomena for comfortable shelter, water, food, electricity and sanitation. It is secure because it is not dependent upon corporate or government infrastructures which themselves are vulnerable to various corruptions, energy shortages and miscalculations. Secure sustenance is between you and the earth phenomena, no middle man needed.
This secure sustenance is available now on this planet in the form of a building we call the Earthship (presented in depth at earthship.com). It provides comfortable shelter via solar/thermal encounter. It also provides its own electricity via solar/wind technology and harvests its own water in addition to containing and treating its own sewage on site. It also inherently produces food year round. This leaves no need for a dependency on infrastructure. The fact that it is also built largely from recycled materials makes it a logical carbon zero approach, actually consuming the “garbage” produced by the beast of economy.
As the planet gets more chaotic from climate change, over population and general abuse, you start to feel your secure sustenance is threatened because others do not have what you have discovered. You have it all. You have comfortable shelter, electricity, water, on site contained and treated sewage and enough food growing from your own food producing sustainable home to keep you and your family alive. You have all the tomatoes you want but others around you have none because they have not discovered what you have discovered. They have not discovered how to achieve this security for themselves.
Your natural thought, which comes from our global fear model of thinking, is to somehow protect your tomatoes with walls and weapons. We have had people ask us to build them Earthship communities with underground chambers from weapons and ammunition. When we ask them why their answer is “we are going to have our lives together and we need weapons and ammo to protect ourselves from others who will want to take it from us.” This made us think and we came up with the answer that even if you have the stomach to kill starving people who are coming after your tomatoes, there are not enough walls and weapons to protect you and your tomatoes from all the world around you that has yet to find an approach to secure sustenance. Your best security is for everyone within five hundred miles of you to have what you have. If you let logic prevail, you will find that if all those around you could have what you have, why would they want to invade you? This is the foundation of tomato logic. Who would want or need your tomatoes when they have even better ones, their own. All that energy that you would have put into walls and weapons, you put it instead into educating the people around you to be able to find and create their own secure sustenance. If every man, woman and child around you had everything you have through encounter with earth phenomena, then you are safe…safer than any arsenal can make you. This is tomato security. This is not a moralistic or spiritual endeavor. It is an endeavor of logic. You do not even have to love these people, you just have to make sure they have what they need, for your own safety. If this were the logic of every powerful country in the world, can you imagine the impact? Can you imagine what that world would be like? Real love and inspiration could actually emerge from this soil of secure sustenance. War budgets being spent educating people on how to sustain themselves though encounter with earth phenomena thus reducing their very need for money, amazing! if all of this were done from a foundation and understanding of secure carbon zero living then we would be a people at peace with each other and a people at peace with the planet.
If secure carbon zero sustenance is established and evangelized all over the planet as forcefully and prolifically as attempts to establish Christianity and capitalism, it would mean everyone learning how to provide for themselves despite economy. This is the foundation for civilization, secure carbon zero sustenance for all people before economy. Economy becomes the result, not the means of sustaining people. It is very simple. We all move toward sustenance for all people of the planet. This makes the people secure from each other. We do this in a carbon zero, planet aware way and we have people secure from the wrath of the planet. This ultimate security is an education and an empowerment, not a gift. When we have achieved this for all people, we will have transcended the beast of economy and turned it into a house pet. Its purpose not to sustain people but to entertain them. Sustenance of all people becomes the goal of all people.
This philosophy makes you want an Earthship, but it also makes you want everyone else on the planet to have one as well. You are aware of the fluid dynamics of humans on this planet and you can, with your own Earthship, become a part of this tide.
The Insignificant Economy
Native peoples, plants and animals existed for many millennia without an adverse affect on the Earth’s ability to support life in general and humans in particular. These beings encountered earth phenomena for sustenance. They did not have an “economy”. They did not have “garbage”.
In the short amount of time that modern humanity has been around we have managed to have serious adverse effects on the ability of this planet to support healthy human life. This modern human economy has bred for us a thing called garbage. Are economy and garbage the ingredients that have caused modern humans to adversely effect the Earth’s ability to support a flourishing human existence?
The modern world has an ailing system that tries to sustain a monstrous and oppressive economy, an economy that is supposed to sustain the people, it doesn’t succeed. A greater world would have a system made to provide for the people…and the nourishment of the people would sustain a more insignificant economy. Sustenance means the provision of comfortable shelter, water, electricity, food and sanitation for every man, woman and child on the planet. Where as economy should not be a beast that unless it is happy and balanced the people suffer. It should not be a beast that expels mountains of garbage all over the earth. It should not be a beast that wars are fought just to feed it. Economy should be an insignificant aspect of an independently healthy and secure human existence. Economy is the result, not the means, of sustaining people.
The modern world economy produces garbage on an insane level. A greater world based on the needs of the people would transform and consume garbage. Garbage is the result of economy. Sustain the people and you will transcend economy. Transcend economy and you will transform and eliminate the very concept of garbage. Transcend economy. Transform garbage. Create a better life.
The key to having a better life for all people is found in the sustenance for all people…not just some people, but all people.
A Brief History of Earthships
For over four decades the systems that go into what we call Earthships have been evolving. The progression of this evolution began with at least two decades spent learning enough to make these systems work…period. We spent many years advancing the various aspects of Earthships and learning how to make them work in a reliable and user friendly way. Although we are always pushing to advance the systems involved in making Earthships, we finally came to a point where we achieved a harmony between the various elements to create a sustainable home using recycled materials, that generated its own water and electricity, conserved and reused water creatively, generated it’s own food and heated and cooled itself in a passive manner.
At the point when all of the systems came together in a cohesive way to create a home we realized that they were more expensive than a conventional home. The people who would be interested in buying an Earthship over a conventional home were those who wanted the security of independent utilities no matter what the cost and those seeking an environmentally friendly living option. Most people, however, would be forced by economics to choose the cheaper, less secure, environmentally hazardous, conventional direction.
Right after we overcame the huge challenge of learning enough to make these “earth machines” work for people and the Earth, we had to simplify and streamline them into something that could compete economically with the price of conventional approaches to housing. No matter how significant the fact that these buildings put people and their relationship to the earth in a very secure situation for the future, most people would still choose a conventional home because it was still easier to obtain in terms of financial cost.
We then spent another decade on this simplification and streamlining until finally in the early 2000’s, we arrived. We had developed a fully independent home that provided shelter, utilities and food, that could be built with recycled materials found anywhere in the world and costs much the same as a conventional home. We could then present our case: the Earthship costs next to nothing to operate while the conventional home for the same price costs a significant amount to operate, not to mention the questionable future availability and viability of the resources required to operate a conventional home. We had arrived!
The satisfaction was unfortunately short lived. The economic housing crisis of 2007 hit and we realized a very significant fact: conventional housing itself was far too expensive all over the developed world for the majority of the population to afford. Many people in many countries lost their conventional homes and they were in crisis.
During our developmental period we presented many models of Earthships for the various financial strata but we observed that the majority of the people of Earth could not afford any of the available housing. We had arrived only to find out that we needed to keep on going. We were faced with a new challenge. We needed to simplify even more and develop a sustainable home that was more affordable than conventional homes. We have to find secure sustenance for people that is not subject to the monster called the economy. We have to make this sustainable vessel, the Earthship, render the existing system insignificant.