These are some notes and observations from our 2 day stay in the "Hut" Earthship. The "Hut" is a modest size, but fully functional Earthship located in the Earthship Community near Taos, New Mexico. Anyone who wants to get some idea what Earthships are all about can rent out the Hut (as well as a couple other Earthships).
Some of the key features of the Earthship home design:
They use little energy -- they are
heated primarily by passive solar heating, have solar water heaters, and are
typically bermed around three sides to minimize heat loss in the winter and
heat gain in the summer.
They are constructed (in large
part) from natural materials taken from the site and from rejected
materials. For example the walls are constructed from earth filled
The construction techniques are
simple. The aim is to make the homes simple enough to build that
the homeowner can build his/her own home.
The homes are designed to not
require the usual infrastructure that supports housing developments -- no
electrical utilities, no water mains, and no sewer systems are needed.
Indeed, the Earthship community near Taos, which is home to 50 or so
Earthships, has none of these. Just think about the impact that could
have if widely applied!
Water is captured on the roof and
stored in cisterns. Water conservation and recycling of grey water are
used to drastically reduce the water used. Amazingly, Earthships in the
Taos area, which only receives 8 inches of rainfall per year, can be self
sufficient in water.
Grey water (shower water and
kitchen drain water) is filtered through a interior "jungle" and reused for
toilet flushing. The Jungle also provides some food and humidity.
Black water (from toilets) is treated by a solar assisted septic tank and plant growing treatment cells. No sewage is released into the ground.
In summary, Earthships utilize simple technology and natural or waste materials to build homes that are easy on the planet.
One of the most impressive things about the Earthship design is that it has been refined and refined over the past 30 years so that many bugs you might expect in a system that accomplishes all these things have already been worked out.
The Earthship folks offer a series of books that describe the Earthship construction and systems in quite a bit of detail -- probably enough detail for a reasonably skilled person to build one. The following are some of the highlights -- if these peak your interest, then you can buy the books at Earthship Central. They also offer a range of other services, including consultation, workshops, plans (packaged or custom), and they will also build an Earthship for you. Information is available on all this at www.Earthship.org.
These pages offer and overview of Earthship design -- if this tickles your interest, then the next step is to get the books, which describe Earthships in much detail:
Earthship water system -- catching water, grey water system, black water system.
Earthship construction -- in work -- ETA 5/06
Earthship electrical system --in work -- ETA 5/06
Some notes and data (temperature and humidity) from our visit.
A bunch more pictures of the Hut, other Earthships, and the Earthship Community. -- in work -- ETA 5/06
Living in an Earthship. --- in work -- ETA 5/06
All in all, the Earthship is a very impressive and truly sustainable home design. Michael Reynolds and his co-workers deserve a great deal of credit for pioneering this design and for refining it over the past 30 years.