Earthships

Written by Ryan Holt, ESLLC 2015-2016

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As our final quarter of our Freshman year at DU is coming to a close, I am beginning to reminisce on my time over the last year. One memory in particular floated up to the forefront of my mind. It was a conversation I had with my eldest brother over winter break about his summer plans. Next summer, he plans on going to New Mexico to take on an ”internship” of sorts. The program teaches you how to build your own earthship.

For those of you who don’t know, an earthship is “the epitome of sustainable design and construction. No part of sustainable living has been ignored in this ingenious building” –Earthship Biotecture. Earthships are extremely flexible and can be built in any part of the world, regardless of climate. At some point in my life, I would love to be able to not only go through this interesting internship but also have an earthship of my own. This house design covers all your needs:

  1. Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling
    • This is done through carefully measured and executed window angles, depth of the building, and good insulation.
  2. Solar & Wind Electricity
    • Photovoltaic/Wind power system. Earthships can have many sources of power that are all automated and can include grid-intertie.
  3. Contained Sewage Treatment
    • The use and reuse of all household sewage that are treated both indoors and outdoors that allows for food production and landscaping. The benefit of this is that there is absolutely no pollution of aquifers and no worries about smelly plumbing as the toilets flush with greywater.
  4. Building with Natural & Recycled Materials
    • Most materials used are ones that occur naturally in the local area. Most of the insulation used is actually recycled tires.
  5. Water Harvesting
    • House design allows for the collection of both rain and snow melt that can be used up to 4 times. The toilet is separated from all other plumbing fixtures. Water is used for washing and bathing and then drained into greywater treatment and containment systems and used for landscaping and greenhouse water.
  6. Food Production
    • Greenhouses are attached to your home so that they provide warmth in the winter and food all year round. They are managed with the greywater system so one never wastes water.

While these houses are not the most fashionable and probably won’t win you best looking house in the neighborhood, they will save you money and clear your conscience by knowing you live in the most sustainable structure on the market.

For a short informational video click here (6 minutes) Earthship Design Principles

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