Earthship!

Happy Friday!  Welcome back!  Can you believe it’s already June?  Where did May go???

Anyways, today’s topic is on the Earthship!!!  Have you heard of it?  If not, it’s a way of building a living structure that is completely off grid using recycled and natural products only.  You can read more here: http://earthship.com/

Earthship (from afar)

As mentioned in my last post, my time in Taos, New Mexico was amazing and I’m very fortunate for that 2 week opportunity.  One of the things we did was tour the Earthship Biotecture.  These houses are made with all recycled and natural products and are self supporting after build.  The houses are designed after these 6  principles (which I stole straight from their website)

Thermal & Solar Heating and Cooling
Solar & Wind Electricity
Contained Sewage Treatment
Building with Natural & Recycled Materials
Water Harvesting
Food Production

The orientation of these houses are North/Shouth to use the sun to heat greenhouses on one side of the house but don’t over heat it. Each Earthship has a pretty extensive greenhouse so that the owners can grow their own food.  ie, be self sustained

Exterior of greenhouse (other side of structure is “built into” the ground)
exterior greenhouse with vents at top for heating/cooling
greenhouse interior – full length windows on the left and the interior of the house on the right. This is the main corridor of the house. 
another greenhouse interior with a pond and birds

Earthships also have a passive heating a cooling system which required the natural flow of hot/cold air to ventilate the building without using electric.  The back side of the house is built with old tires filled with adobe.  This is built up to create a somewhat underground back wall.  During the construction process, big tubes are placed horizontally at the bottom row of tires from the outside of the back underground wall to the interior.  These tubes (that are buried during construction with both ends left open with screens) have little doors on the interior side that can be opened to allow cool air to enter the building.  Vents at the top of the exposed side of the house are opened to allow the hot air to rise and be replaced by the cool air that comes in through the vents.  In the winter the interior doors on the tubes are close to trap in the hot air from the big windows in the greenhouse.  Thus this creates an energy free passive heating/cooling system for a high desert climate.  In the picture below, the little interior doors below the fridge on the left side of picture will open to allow the cool air to flow inside the structure.  Doors are closed in the picture below since it was morning and cool outside.

kitchen

For the electric needs, the buildings also have solar panels.   As  Taos, NM is high desert, they don’t receive much rain and must use rain harvesting by collecting all of the rain (and snow) water on the roof and re-using grey water.  Most Earthships have their own septic system for blackwater treatment.

recycled bottles in adobe of the academy building
interior walls of the academy building

As mentioned previously, the back wall is built with recycled tires filled with adobe to create a somewhat underground side of the house.  The adobe covers and fills the tires so that all you see is dirt/Earth/grass on the exterior and adobe on the interior.  Each house is rectangular in shape with the main corridor in the greenhouse and all the rooms (living, kitchen, bedrooms) off of that main corridor.  This means each room has the back “underground” back wall and the greenhouse corridor on the front side.  The other walls of the house are built with recycled cans and bottles in adobe.  This creates an interesting art and stained glass look while using up recycled products.

If your ever in the Taos, NM area I highly recommend stopping in and taking the tour.  It’s well worth the $14 admission (it might be more but its worth if it your into sustainable structures).  The visitor center is a great intro but paying for the tour is a necessity.  They also have a month academy to learn how to build these structures!  We were told there is at least 1 Earthship built in every state in the US.  I’m on the hunt to locate these. =)  Anyways, I have more to share about this experience but for now will leave you with this.

 

 

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