Building an Earth-Friendly, Self-Sustaining Home

Earthships: A self-sustaining home from recycled materials.

By Angela Tipton

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Becoming Environmentally Aware

What if you could build a self-sustaining home from recycled materials, such as old earth-filled tires, recycled bottles, aluminum cans and reclaimed wood? You’d have to consider that pretty earth friendly. Then what about having no utility or grocery bills to pay? That is exactly what an Earthship home offers. This amazing style of dwelling was trademarked by Michael Reynolds, founder of Earthship Biotecture.

It’s no secret that reducing our environmental impact on the planet needs to become a greater priority. What I love about the concept of an Earthship home is that it incorporates a lot of the topics we discuss here at LandCentral, from grey water, to solar power and off-the-grid alternatives. The design principles used in an Earthship home are revolutionary and quite simple.

 

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What is an Earthship?

Combining passive-solar heating with thermal mass construction, an Earthship home can heat or cool itself without using fossil fuels. The home maintains about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in freezing or blistering temperatures. Using solar and/or wind power system, it stores the electricity in batteries that can be parceled out to electrical outlets.

Earthship homes collect water from rain or melting snow. The entire roof directs the rain water to a cistern that flows to sinks and showers. That water is pumped into the greenhouse for the plants. The grey water is then cleaned by the plants for the toilets. When flushed, the remaining water is directed to the garden outside to give nutrients for plants not used for food.

As mentioned above, the Earthships have greenhouses inside the homes for food production. These are designed to have year-round crops, regardless of the climate. Some homeowners also choose to raise chickens or have a fish pond for protein.

 

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Earthship Aesthetics

Earthships can be simple or over-the-top in design. They can be built in many climates. Sometimes, when one thinks of an off-the-grid dwelling, they think of it having to be primitive or ugly. But some Earthships are beautiful. Others are simple and rustic in their appearance, but the primary goal is sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint, without sacrificing comfort.

Part of my job at LandCentral is talking to people about properties and their plans for their investment. A huge trend I keep hearing is that a lot of people are yearning for more simplicity. Many want to know how can they downsize or reach their goals in an affordable way. What can they leave for their children? How can they find ways to be more responsible with the earth? Alternative dwellings and building methods are increasing in popularity and slowly, very slowly, some counties are moving with the times. For more information, check out this short YouTube clip. I hope you enjoy this concept as much as I do.

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