The concept of sustainable homes is one of the most fascinating aspects of green living. So far, the best practical green home style I’ve seen is the earthship. Mickey Z. of Planet Green writes
An earthship is a passive solar building with thermal mass. It is “made from natural and recycled materials, including earth-rammed tires and aluminum cans.” Powered by renewable energy and using rainwater for its water supply… earthship refers to a “concept, not a set design, and can be adapted for any climate worldwide.
The idea is to return to the construction habits of our species’ past. Earths are built from local materials, so they don’t have to rely on manufacturing and shipping. While these houses still have modern conveniences, such as electricity and running water, they can be completely off-the-grid.
Temperature is regulated by natural activities; the sun provides heating, while the earth provides cooling. The energy needed for appliances and electronics is provided by windmills and solar panels. Water is collected from precipitation and is recycled as much as possible. The gray water from sinks and bathtubs is cleaned and piped to flush the toilets. The water can then be re-used in botanical cells.
That brings us to one of my favorite features of earthships: fruits and vegetables can be grown throughout the year in attached greenhouses or “botanical cells.”
Independent housing makes financial sense, too. Although earthships cost about the same as traditional houses to build, they will save money in the long run, since utility bills will be virtually nonexistent.
If you are interested in the concept of earthships, but have no clue about how to build them, you might enjoy browsing the website of Earthship Biotecture, a company that builds, rents and sells sustainable homes.
All images from Earthship.net