Old car tires, glass bottles, a few bars and a lot of earth: So anyone who has some strong friends can build a zero-energy house for dumping price and everyone can afford a home. In addition, there is never again a electricity, gas or water bill. How it works, how chic, innovative and sustainable such a house is, here is an insight report.
The inventor of the Earthship houses, the Earthships, Mike Reynolds, calls the Earthship Houses “radically sustainable homes.” With this sustainable construction style developed and refined over decades, Reynolds meets the nerve of many. When he says that he builds a house that heats itself, supplies its own water and produces its own food, does not require expensive technology and is made from recycled waste and natural building materials, the growing number of these homes is worldwide understandable.
A comfortable house made of things that others throw away
It seems almost too good to be true: Conveniently build a house that meets the standards of a passive or zero energy house. For little money too. Energy, water and pleasant warmth or cool summer temperatures in every climate zone. Self-sufficient from any electricity, gas or oil supplier. In addition, in our climate, for example, growing pineapples or bananas in our own greenhouse, sustainable building is hardly possible.
Walls of car tires and earth
Mike Reynolds is a revolutionary of sustainability. As early as the 1970s, the now very successful and valued inventor and designer set out to look for new ways to build sustainably. The house consists exclusively of materials that are either abundant all over the world, sustainably produced like wood or sustainably recycled by the building of houses. Furthermore, the Earthship House should be able to count completely on natural energy sources and be completely self-sufficient. After all, every person should be able to build such a house without much financial effort and without any special knowledge or manual skills.
In search of a sustainable and suitable building material for the walls, Mike Reynolds came across used tires. Everywhere in the world there are millions of the almost rotting old tires around, with which nothing sensible can be done. In Germany alone, 650,000 tons of used tires are produced each year. However, Reynolds found that earth-filled car tires have very good insulation properties, high stability for house building and are virtually incombustible. The house is also partially built underground or integrated into an artificial wall.
Sustainably use the heat of the earth
Earthship houses, like geothermal energy, use the warmth of the earth. Due to the artificial slope, the sustainably constructed Earthship houses are partially enclosed on three sides by earth. This creates a pleasant living climate in both summer and winter. At frost the temperature of the earth hardly changes – apart from direct surface. Sustained energy saving, that is the result of this simple but well thought-out construction of the Earthship houses.
The open house side, however, is completely glazed and serves both as heating by solar radiation as a conservatory. Here, fruits and vegetables can be grown under ideal temperature conditions. If the sun’s rays and thus the heat effect are to be reduced, blinds will help. In very hot areas, however, a cooling system is integrated, in extremely cold areas a stove, serves as a cheap and environmentally friendly heating alternative.
A sophisticated, closed water system
Water is used four times in Earthship homes. Collected rainwater is first purified by a filter system so that it has drinking water quality. The wastewater from showering, washing hands or laundry is roughly cleaned by the conservatory beds and the remaining, infiltrating water is routed to the toilet flush or directly into an external bio-wastewater treatment plant. Absolutely reliable cleaning – as in our large sewage treatment plants, it is returned to the circulation. Since, for example, biologically produced soap is used, no questionable substances are left behind and chemicals can be dispensed with. A water connection or your own source of drinking water supply can also be installed.
Sun and wind provide the necessary energy
Photovoltaic and small wind turbines are the energy sources of an earthship. The recovered energy can be stored in a battery storage system for retrieval. The use of additional required power from the mains or powered by a generator is also possible.
Building sustainably with a holistic concept
After decades of testing, the spar homes developed by Mike Reynolds are buildable all over the world. Especially in disaster areas or poor countries, an earthship house can become a new home. Best example: After the devastating cyclone Katherina many earthship houses were built from the rubble.
His company Earthship Biotecture trains interested home builders, but there are also DVDs and books that explain the construction principle in detail. In the USA, already entire settlements in Earthship construction have been created. But also in Europe there are numerous Earthships – tendency rising. Construction can hardly be more sustainable. The only question is: will there be building permits issued in Europe for this? So far at least no Earthship house has been built in Germany but in other European countries there are some already.
Earthship on time: spend holidays in a sustainable building
The Earthships give folks the possibility to experience a luxurious off the grid lifestyle. Because being self-sufficient doesn’t mean giving up on one’s quality of life. All the Earthship homes are equipped with all amenities that conventional housing provides such as:
Internet, Netflix, flat screen TV, place settings ….
All in a beautiful scenic setting in Taos, New Mexico and very proud to show you that you can live your life without harming nature …
This is no joke, read here.