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Brilliant EARTHSHIP Home Makes Off-Grid Life Look Easy

First things first; what is an Earthship? It’s defined as “a passive solar earth shelter made of both natural and upcycled materials.” Such a building, properly designed and executed, requires no utility services from the grid to operate.

The idea behind building an Earthship is that you don’t necessarily have to go back to basics to live off-grid – you only have to be conscious of how you live and your interaction/impact on nature. That is, you can embrace nature by building an environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient Earthship.

In a video published in the Tiny House Giant Journey YouTube channel, Jeff from Big Sky Earthship highlights the self-sufficiency of an Earthship — and we have to admit, he makes off-grid living look easy. Here’s a quick summary of how one of his Earthships in Montana works:

1. Shelter: The Earthship is largely made from recycled, reused, upcycled, and natural materials. Tires, old drums, and other types of scrap that are often thrown away in dumpsters are given a new lease of life.

2. Heating & Cooling: The house heats and cools itself passively and maintains a stable, comfortable temperature year-round, without the need for a centralized AC system.

3. Garbage Management: Aluminum cans and other garbage material are integrated into the structure of the building.

4. Clean Water: Household water is harvested from the roof, stored in cisterns, filtered, pressurized, and pumped into the house.

5. Water Recycling: Grey water from the sinks and shower is used to water the plants.

6. Food: As in any other off-grid living technique, growing your food is a big part of the Earthship owner’s journey of self-sufficiency.

The walk-through of Jeff’s Earthship is both inspiring and a pleasure to see the many ways people can co-exist sustainably with nature in off-grid living.

Brilliant EARTHSHIP Home Makes Off-Grid Life Look Easy
Brilliant EARTHSHIP Home Makes Off-Grid Life Look Easy – Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNekutd-6qM

Building A Roundhouse With Woodhenge And Cobwood

Building A Roundhouse With Woodhenge And CobwoodBuilding A Roundhouse With Woodhenge And Cobwood
Photo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KByX6XLTLy8

Here you’ll find a three minute time-lapse video by ToneWrench of the whole process of building a small roundhouse. Tony Wrench, writer of a book called ‘Building a Low Impact Roundhouse’, built this one over ten years ago with a small team in just six weeks!

The windows have been reclaimed and the structure of the roundhouse is built almost entirely from sustainable materials, namely timber and cob (which is a traditional wall plaster/ render made of three parts sand, one clay, one chopped straw or hay). Some cob houses in the UK have been around for centuries – with the climate being quite wet, this means cob is truly tried and tested!

The walls of the house are made using cordwood (also known as Stackwall, Stovewood, Firewood or Cordwood Masonry) – this means horizontal log slices of tree trunks and branches that are used “in the round” – this produces a good surface for the cob to stick to, giving a thick wall for good insulation and an attractive look to the house. There are coloured glass bottles in parts of the wall that make a nice feature too (bottles have good insulation properties because they have trapped air inside, much like double glazing).

The roof is turfed, which helps to insulate the house as well as giving nature a place to grow. For more about “That Roundhouse” (as it is called) please visit Tony’s site, which also has a lot of info that could help you if you want to build your own place: http://thatroundhouse.info/

Related: Learn All About Yurts – Including List Of 70+ Yurt Manufacturers

Here are some facts and figures about construction that show us some of the problems we face: According to the US Department of Energy, buildings consume 40% of the world’s current energy and raw materials and the US Energy Information Administration tells us that buildings cause 40% of the total CO2 emissions and ozone depletion. At the moment, 75% of the trees cut down in North America are used in construction, with a lot of waste being produced in the process.

We need building methods that use renewable, natural resources efficiently and we need them to become mainstream as soon as possible – please help to spread the word!

To find out more, try these links:
(UK) http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29
http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/1app/guidance/guidance_note-full_planning.pdf
(US/Canada) http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28Canada/US%29
http://www.onecommunityglobal.org/evolving-sustainability/

We also found this page of historical cob buildings that shows just how versatile this natural material is: http://www.inspirationgreen.com/historical-cob-buildings.html

Okay, here is the video:

Amazing Dome Home

Amazing Dome Home!Amazing Dome Home – image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02NtjypMHwk

This short video of Steve Areen‘s dream home shows just how happy you can be after building your own home! We get a guided tour of the finished home, built on an organic mango farm in Thailand, with the builder’s own dreamy music to accompany us.

I’m sure those mangoes have had a part to play in the design and colour of this house! 😉 It’s a great example of a simple but unique structure with a very organic, natural feel. With fresh mangoes to eat every day and his dream home at a cost of $9,000, no wonder this guy’s on cloud nine!

Related: How To Build A 24 Foot Geodesic Dome

Round dwellings have a history going back thousands of years, across many cultures worldwide – with examples including the Tipi, Yurt and the roundhouses of Europe and South Africa to name a few. The reason for this is simple – a circular design will give you a very strong, efficient building. This dome home takes it a step further by using the sphere, a supremely efficient form in terms of its use of materials, strength and energy efficiency (it gives the smallest possible surface area for a given volume). Not only does a round house look cool and feel natural, it will give excellent protection against extreme weather – hurricane damage is extremely unlikely in a home like this. Domes are becoming more mainstream now, check this out also for some more examples: http://www.nds.ie/index.php

You could end up with a problem fitting your regular furniture in this dome house but then why not go the whole way and make some of your own like Steve has done? Construction methods for this home can be found here: http://www.steveareen.com/domehomecreation/index.html

From an eco-perspective, I didn’t quite like the use of so much concrete here but then I discovered that Steve will be using compressed earth blocks on future dome projects, proving that it can all be done with a very low environmental impact!

Unfortunately for many of us in the western world, the simple desire to build our own home generally leads to a lot of expense and getting bogged down in heaps of red tape. The list of heartbroken people who have had their homes torn down after building without planning consent is growing all the time so it’s essential that you do your legal and planning research, especially with an unusual build like this. And if you’re determined to dream outside the box, it could even be worth moving to a country that will give you a bit more freedom, such as our man Steve has done.