Random Earthship Discussion

Continuing the discussion from Cultural Policy re-working:

[quote=“dovix, post:2, topic:324, full:true”]
I was reading into building “earth ships” recently. It’s a great idea where it uses byproducts of nature to build self sustainable housing. They’re built and ready to go rather than having to be connected into the grid and the food and energy you produce from the house maintains you year round. I was looking into building on once I have the capital.[/quote]
If you’re looking at Earthships, I would encourage you to read Earthship Pros and Cons and the followup post Solving the Earthship Enigma.

I’ve been to a couple of Michael Reynolds’ Earthship seminars, and would love to build one myself, or a house incorporating their principles, but I have some reservations. One is that it’s difficult to get a straight answer about how much they actually cost to build (I suspect a similar or slightly higher price than conventional housing, unless you do all the labour yourself; while I’m happy to pay a premium for sustainability if necessary, I do not have an infinite supply of cash). The other is that it’s critically important to ensure that you tweak the design to match your local environment. For example, the heat mass stored in the back wall will apparently tend to be the average temperature over the whole year where you live, i.e. if you live somewhere sufficiently cold, the heat you collect will sink into the ground unless you insulate against the rest of the earth. Also, regarding building codes, I’ve spoken to people locally who suggest, say, building an earth brick house, to get some of the thermal properties, but still use a standard wooden frame (rather than earth rammed tyres), because the building inspection people actually understand wooden frame houses and will give you a permit to build them.

TL;DR: Take the good ideas, take all the good ideas, hack as necessary then build with your local environment.

Addendum: If and when I do this myself, it will be thoroughly documented online for all to see.


An interesting related concept I stumbled upon while researching Earthships is the “Umbrella house”.

One thing that’s concerned me, however, about Earthships in specific is the seeming lack of in-depth, technical documentation of the design & construction process, as well as some unanswered questions relating to potential long-term issues (I’ve heard talk of moisture issues, and of outgassing from the tires in the wall).

The idea of a home that’s self sufficient for food, energy, water and waste management has held my attention since I first became aware of the concept. I’d love to one day build such a place (or even better, start a settlement of such structures, with many other like-minded people), if I ever had the resources (which seems sadly unlikely at this stage).

That aside, as much as these types of dwellings seem sustainable and ecological from the perspective of an individual / family, I do wonder how well they fare in terms of space efficiency / scalability - Would this approach scale to a sizable portion of the population living in such dwellings?

My apologies if this post is a bit disjointed / rambling, I’m somewhat distracted at the moment, simply wanted to get my thoughts on this out, and would love to see more discussion on this topic.

Just to add, I found this a while ago, with details of what claims to be the first Earthship build in Australia.

I’ve only skimmed this topic but just thought I would throw this link in here: http://opensourceecology.org/gvcs/

I last looked at it a few years ago but the intention is to document instructions to build all machinery that you would need to developing a modern society from scratch. The CEB Press machine in particular was what reminded me of this.

May be worth reading, may not :smile:

I have seen the OSE/GVCS stuff, and it’s pretty interesting - rather looking forward to seeing the project grow and propser. I haven’t however, yet seen too much detail on communities/individuals that’ve actually built many of the machines, so, at least from what I’ve seen (or rather, not seen thus far), it’s hard to ascertain how practical and workable the various machines are for day to day usage.

Tangentially related, but in the same vein of sustainable construction methods, I came across this a few moments ago:

A company called Progressive Innovations has already reinvented 3D house printing for the sustainable era and created an 3D printing-inspired earthbag laying machine.