Earthship Biotecture has been developing a sustainable housing method called the Earthship Concept for over thirty years in New Mexico.
This housing is independant of municipal utilities and presents ...
1.) Solar /thermal heating and cooling
2.) Solar/wind electricity
3.) Water harvesting
4.) Contained, zero discharge, individual on site sewage treatment
5.) Building with recycled materials
6.) Food production in the home
Earthships directly address the global issues of our time. These issues have become more serious in the recent months due to a heightened awareness of global warming. The Earthship concept is directed at curbing global warming and at the very least offering a direction that will sustain human life on earth longer as planetary conditions worsen.
Solar & Wind Electricity
Power organizing module
This building is completely "off the grid" meaning it is not attached
to any main utility lines. It produces all of its electric power with
solar panels (windmills can also be used). These onsite renewable
energy sources charge a bank of batteries in the systems room. The
Power Organizing Module (a specific design produced exclusively by
Earthship Biotecture) distributes energy from the batteries throughout
the house. Super efficient lighting, pumps and refrigeration in
addition to natural ventilating, heating and cooling greatly reduce
the energy requirements for the home. These "designed down" energy
requirements meet the solar/wind energy harvesting half way. A very
reliable and free energy bank for the home that will never be dependent
on fossil fueled, centralized, municipal utility systems is the
result. Both people and the planet benefit from this arrangement.
Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling
Thermal mass encounter
This building heats and cools itself naturally without burning fossil
fuels or having any utility bills. It taps into and encounters the
constant temperature of the earth which helps to stabilize temperature
the massive building. The living spaces are surrounded on three sides
with thermal mass in the form of used automobile tires rammed with
earth. More earth is buried behind these walls, then insulated with a
In the winter, glass along the whole south side of the building admits
sun, which heats the mass of the very thick walls. When the
temperature in the room drops below the temperature in the walls, heat
is released from the walls in to the space. In the summer, with the
sun high in the sky, sun enters only in to the planters. The naturally
cool temperature of the deep earth cools the building. Natural
convection driven ventilation from under ground cooling tubes, operable
windows and skylights provides additional cooling.
No money nor fossil fuel is used for comfort in these homes.
Building with Natural & Recycled Materials
Used automobile tires
Plastic & glass bottles
Aluminum & steel cans
Natural mud & straw plaster
The walls of an Earthship are built with used automobile tires rammed
with earth. These massive walls are load bearing monoliths which
are wide enough to also serve as their own foundation. No concrete
foundations are required. The tire, a steel belted rubber casing, is
simply a form for the rammed earth which creates the thermal mass.
These building blocks are filled and compacted in place and staggered
like bricks. Each Earthship uses between 500-5,000 tires.
Small interior walls of the Earthship may be made from aluminum or steel cans; or glass or plastic bottles.
Earthen plaster is used for the interior of most of the building. A
mixture of sifted dirt from the site, sand, chopped straw and water are
used. The chopped straw is added to help bind the plaster and prevent
Other Earthship projects have incorporated sheep's wool insulation,
metal paneling from discarded household appliances, adobe bricks for
interior walls, straw bales as insulation for unburied tire walls,
reclaimed materials from demolition sites for doors and cabinets and
much more. Local byproducts of modern society are used for housing in
a effort to minimize the use of trees which are becoming precious and
concrete which is damaging to the environment to produce.
Water organizing module
Solar hot water heater
Every Earthship harvests all of its own water from rain and snow that
falls from the sky on to the roof. This water is stored in cisterns
buried outside the building. The water then gravity-feeds a panel
called the Water Organizing Module. This unit filters, pressurizes and
pumps the water to fixtures throughout the building and to the solar
hot water heater mounted on the roof.
An Earthship uses all of its water four times. These water harvesting
systems help preserve existing aquifers and reduce the need for
centralized, municipal water systems. They may be used in climates that
get as little as 7 inches of total annual precipitation.
Contained Sewage Treatment
Grey water botanical cells
Black water botanical cells
An Earthship uses all of its water four times and treats it on site in
contained sewage treatment planters called botanical cells. Once-used
water from the sinks and shower travels trough a particle filter into
interior grey water treatment planters. These planters are
re-circulated by solar pumps. As the grey water travels through the
rubber lined planters it grows plants, is oxygenated by the plant
roots and cleaned up enough to be used for toilet flushing.
A pump panel draws cleaned grey water from a well at the end of the
botanical cell and fills the toilet tank for flushing. The black water
from the toilet then goes outside to a conventional septic tank which
overflows in to another rubber-lined botanical cell. Landscaping
plants are grown with used, cleaned up black water instead of fresh
water and ground water supplies preserved and protected from
Grey water botanical cell
Year round production of various fruits and vegetables, flowers and herbs
in a variety of temperate zones
In an Earthship's interior grey water botanical cells you are able to
grow food year round. Tropical plants such as banana trees and
hibiscus flourish even when there is snow outside. Earthship residents
pick their own organic produce fresh for any meal! They can also
simply graze throughout the day. The latest Earthship design, the
Phoenix, features expanded food production capabilities with a second
and third greenhouse and over one-third of the total square footage
dedicated to food production. There will be fish production and
chickens and goats for meats, eggs, and milk and cheeses in addition to
fruits and vegetables. The effort being to produce enough food to
survive in ones home.