Incredible Small Off-Grid Earthship Home

Here’s a fantastic video from Living Big In A Tiny House documenting a stunning and futuristic-looking Earthship home! It turns out that this was the first council-approved Earthship built in Australia.

An Earthship is an entirely self-sufficient off-grid home that utilizes passive heating and cooling techniques, greywater recycling and solar electrical power.

It’s based on one of Michael Reynolds’ designs, the “simple survival model Earthship” and we learn that Martin spent time with the original Earthship community in USA in order to learn their techniques. It’s not his first build however – as we can see a straw bale home on the same property.

An Earthship home is partly built into a hillside or earth bank, which provides good thermal stability. Earthships have very thick walls made from rammed earth inside old tires. These homes are also very fire resistant. Around 700 tires were used for the walls, which are finished with clay to render. Interestingly, the earthen floor is finished with linseed oil.

Having a large glass-panel wall on one side is not just an aesthetic feature to let in more light: It also allows passive solar heating of the building in winter and as the sun strikes the interior wall it warms it over time, like a kind of battery which will release its heat over time. Inside that glass wall is an indoor garden – which grows food in winter and is also a waste greywater treatment system! Shower or bath water is directed into the indoor garden beds. It’s a perfect example of a “closed loop” system. The water that has passed through this garden is clean enough to be used for toilet flushing – giving it a third use – although building regs in their area do not permit greywater use for flushing.

Depending on your location you are going to come up against building regulation resistance to the creation of this kind of home. We learn that Martin met opposition to part of his greywater system, which is ironic considering that it was an attempt to limit water use and to be eco-friendly.

The “bottle walls” include old glass bottles that give the a second use as well as creating an attractive feature and a kind of “light tube”.

Interestingly we learn that even on very hot days (40º+) the temperature in the building is very stable and cool. There are several design features that facilitate this: The high thermal mass of the structure, in combination with the other clever design deatures, keep the space cool in summer and warmer in winter. Under the home we learn there are “earth tubes”. These are specifically utilized in order to create a cooling system. At a depth of several feet under the ground, the temperature stays cool and even on a hot 40 degree day, we find air of 20 degrees or less in the tubes. Circulating the air slowly through those tubes provides a perfect natural cooling system that saves a lot of money on cooling bills.

Building cost was estimated at around $170,000 AUD. However Earthships are incredibly labour-intensive and that price does not include the labour costs as they had a large team of volunteers.

Incredible Small Off-Grid Earthship Home
Incredible Small Off-Grid Earthship Home – Graphic © Images:

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What REALLY Happens When You Bury a Shipping Container? (Hint: It's A Bit Crazy...)

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