Earthship is the epitome of sustainable design and construction. Earthships are a home which cools and heats up on its own without the need to have a separate heating or cooling unit. This sort of dwelling unit produces its own zero-emissions supply of electricity, and is not dependent on a municipal source for water. This kind of home also processes its waste water locally and can even grow a part of food which may be required for the occupants of this type of home.
Earthships are homes built with passive solar design principles. In winter months, sunlight enters the home and warms the floors and walls. High thermal mass core is covered with concrete or earthen-based plasters for a smooth and cosmetically appealing surface. The mass of the walls and structure “absorb” the sun’s heat, this heat is stored in the mass walls and is then released back into the living space after the sun sets. In summer, the cool base temperature of the earth around the home provides natural cooling. This is supplemented with convective air flow and skylight vents.
Power and Water
Earthships are self-sufficient in terms of electricity and traditional service utilities. Solar panels and/or wind turbines generate electric power. Their roof surface acts as a “collector” for rain and snow harvesting. Water consumption is further enhanced by re-use. An Earthship’s water stores are “processed” by filtration and purification means for initial use. Waste water from sinks and showers is processed through a biological/planter bed before being used for conventional toilets. These planter beds can also be used as gardens. The waste water from the toilets is then processed in an exterior system that can be used landscaping. With this system the water is recycled four times… which is a great savings in its own right. Hot water for domestic use is produced using solar thermal power.
Earthships are gaining popularity and can be found in nearly every climate type. One of the best known examples of this type of architecture and sustainable building style can be found near Taos, New Mexico. Here an entire community of Earthships make up the “Greater World Community.” This “subdivision” has been in existence for nearly 20 years.