“Earthship” is a registered trademark of Earthship Biotecture; the primary architect is Michael Reynolds who started experimenting with this type of home in 1970. Earthships are designed to be of sustainable architecture (using indigenous and recycled materials), to rely on natural energy sources independent from the “grid” and to be feasible for the average person with no specialized construction skills to build.
Most of these homes are characterized by being partially sunken into the earth, having many windows, and using earth-filled tires. Earth-filled tires, though labor intensive, have high load-bearing capacity and are fire resistant. Rural Arizona Land to Build Your Earthship!
Currently Earthships are in use in almost every state in the U.S. and Canada. Colder climates require the use of strong insulation on the outside of the tires. The Taos-based organization continues to build around the world, to publish books and plans, and to train interested people.
Utilities built into the home include:
1. Water - a gravity-fed rainwater harvesting system that produces safe drinking water and recycling of gray water into non-potable uses and black water (from flushing toilets) is sent to a solar-enhanced septic tank and leach-field.
2. Electricity – photovoltaic panels and wind turbines generate DC energy that is stored in “deep-cycle” batteries, usually kept on the roof. A pre-fabricated Power Organizing Module is attached to an interior wall and wired in a conventional manner.
3. Climate – the interior climate is “stabilized by taking advantage of natural phenomenon.” The filled tire walls provide a dense thermal mass that soaks up the heat during the day and radiates it at night. The earthship is partially buried and is positioned with its sun-facing wall in line with the angle of the winter sun. Both of those strategies contribute to stable temperatures.
As I write, an Earthship has just gone up for sale in Kingman Arizona. The 1788 sq ft home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a garage, and a detached studio/workshop, and a barn with 2 stalls and an arena is listed for $199,001. This home is sited on 20 treed acres bordered by public land, increasing further its quiet, privacy, and seclusion. It is on a hill providing panoramic mountain views. Check it out in the picture to the right!