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An Introduction to Earthships

Power and Water

Earthships by their nature are off-grid. This means they are self-sufficient in terms of electricity and traditional service utilities. Solar panels and/or wind turbines generate electric power. The home’s roof surface acts as a “collector” for rain and snow harvesting.  Water consumption is further enhanced by re-use. An Earthship’s water stores are “processed” by filtration and purification means for initial use. Grey water from sinks and showers is processed through a biological/planter bed before being used to flush conventional toilets. These planter beds can also be used as gardens (some people grow food in grey water-irrigated gardens; some do not). The waste water from the toilets is then processed in an exterior system that can be used for exterior landscape needs.  With this system the water is actually used four times… which is a great savings in its own right.  Hot water for domestic use is produced using thermal solar power.

Recycled Building Materials

One of the greatest advantages of Earthship construction is the use of reclaimed materials. The fundamental “building blocks” of an Earthship include tires, bottles and cans.  Earthship “foundations” begin with old tires that are filled with simple dirt. This local material is compressed into the “form” of the tire and provides a strong solid and dense “brick”. These tire walls are built on three sides of the structure and provide both thermal mass and support for the home roofing system.  Interior and decorative walls are often built using bottles and cans as the “core” materials. This integrated “matrix” of concrete and containers reduces the total amount of mortar that is needed and can provide a great decorative element.

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Earthships are gaining popularity and can be found in nearly every climate type. One of the best known examples of this type of architecture and sustainable building style can be found near Taos, New Mexico. Here an entire community of Earthships make up the “Greater World Community.” This “subdivision” has been in existence for nearly 20 years.
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Read more: Community, Conservation, Crafts & Design, Do Good, Green, Home, Household Hints, Materials & Architecture, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Technology, , , , ,

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Networx.com empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.

61 comments

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9:51AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

Me and my boyfriend lives in Sweden and would love to build our own earthship one day. Lets go back to nature=)

10:44AM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

I would so love to live in a home like this...this is definitely on my list of goals in life! All new housing should be designed like this, but the government would just hate for us to live without paying taxes and with so much freedom!

6:29PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Love these!

12:52AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

Sorry, I meant TWENTY years ago! V

12:42AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

Thirty years ago I read about these homes and was very exited by the possibilities of energy independence and being able to build with recycled materials, basically throw away's like tires, cans and bottles. I liked the look being freeform and knew I could build it myself with help. I visited the earthship community in Taos and took a three week construction course which was an awesome experience! I went into a home built for Dennis Weaver (actor) in February with 2 feet of snow on the ground at about 8,000 ft elevation and as soon as I walked in, I took off my coat and was very comfortable, even though no one had been there for weeks to manage the temp. in any way. There were TOMATOES growing just inside the windows and it was amazingly beautiful inside!! Built on a steep mountainside the back walls were solid rock!!! It was AWESOME!! Long story short, I never was able to build my earthship but they are very cool and for the right folks, totally doable. A southern sun exposure and south facing slope make it easier but flat ground can work too.

7:05PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

This is something I could live in harmony with. And so could many others. What a great system!

5:53AM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

neat!

10:06AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

I have seen these types of homes while looking for environmentally
Friendly homes. I would love to know much more about them

7:24PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

thanks....

4:11PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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