Earthship Biotecture: The Sustainable Homes of the Future
A sustainable future: guided by the past
The solutions to a better future are found in the past. Our ancestors left us their wisdom and knowledge as a valuable gift to use and improve upon. Earthships have been around for hundreds of years due to their practicality. We can continue to evolve on this foundation by adding our modern twists and sustainable development.
A carbon neutral earthship aims to be as energy efficient as possible. The de-carbonization of earthships begins in the building process, where natural resources and waste materials are used. Upon completion, the earthship is sustained self-sufficiently through solar power, climate control systems, water irrigation systems, and an organic food source.
The building structure is made of waste materials such as tyres, glass bottles and aluminium cans. The walls are lined with re-purposed tyres or naturally sourced mudbricks, which are excellent for the durability and longevity of the earthships. The tyre foundations are filled and covered with a mud, clay, sand and straw mixture- a cheap, natural and environmentally friendly alternative to cement. Reclaimed wood is used to create the ceiling, as well as to create frames for the earthship. These foundations can then be lined with the mud and clay mixture to create a dome like interior.
Solar and Wind Electricity
With the earthships water recycling system, every raindrop that lands on the earthships roof is reused 4 times. The rainwater gathered from the roof into cisterns, feeds a pump and filter system that cleans the water and sends it to a solar hot water heater, and also to a pressure tank. From there, water is used for bathing, washing dishes, and laundry. The water then goes down the drain and trickles into the greenhouse plants. The plants clean the water and it is then recycled back into the running water system.
A greenhouse will be placed at the south facing end of the earthship, where organic produce is grown. The greenhouse not only acts as a source of sustainable food, but also cleans the water and heats the thermal mass walls and floors throughout the day. The heat is then released when the temperature drops.
Contained Sewage Treatment
40% of water in a home is used for toilet flushing. So how can we recycle this? An earthship should ideally have a contained sewage treatment to be fully sustainable. So, let's have a look at how this is achieved.
- Used blackwater from the toilet flows to the septic tank which is divided into several chambers, that help break down the sludge and debris of blackwater.
- The water then drains through a water irrigation pump into surrounding rubber-lined containers, holding ornamental plants surrounding the Earthship.
- The plants clean the water of any more toxic chemicals and recycle it back into a well to be used for landscaping, or for flushing the toilet again.
An earthship can be built by pretty much anyone as there isn't a need for intense construction skills. If you're thrifty, the cost can be very low, as low as a few thousand pounds! The added benefit is that once you start living in an earthship, your bills are much lower than an average person living in a conventional home. Plus you're not having to rely on the government and big companies to access basic human essentials!