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‘Earthships’ may be the future in sustainable living



A sustainable living movement, which started in the USA, is beginning to go global and has even hit the shores of Australia. The green architectural concepts are called ‘Earthships’. They are the brainchild of US architect Michael Reynolds who began experimenting with building homes out of garbage and natural materials around 40 years ago.

Mr Reynolds has said that the idea came from wondering about the problem of garbage problem on this planet and the fact that materials that never deteriorate were just being thrown away. He said that he had been called an ‘idiot’ for building with garbage and even had his architects license taking away from him at one stage before getting it back in 2007.

One of the keys to success in Earthships is that they require very little energy for heating or cooling. This is partly achieved by building them at least 1.2m below the earth’s surface. The walls are often made of earth filled tyres which can soak up heat during the day and radiate it into the home at night. Walls can also be comprised of used bottles and drink cans.

The power needed for electrical appliances is derived from solar and/or wind turbines on the property. Water is collected from rain or snow, stored in a large tank and filtered for drinking and cooking purposes. Sink, shower and bath water is then treated and used for flushing toilets and growing food. Sewage from toilets is stored in a septic tank and after cleaning, can be used to water the landscape. All this means that Earthship homes can live completely separate from the public utility grid.

After initial resistance, Earthships have become an acceptable method of sustainable living. Earthship homes can be found in some 50 states across the USA and in at least 25 countries across the globe. The Earthship Biotecture company is currently working on a global model of Earthships which it hopes will move them closer towards mainstream housing. The first Earthship home in Australia has nearly been completed, about 30 minutes out of Adelaide. The council approved home of University lecturer, Martin Freney, has been built to house 2 people and comes complete with a hot tub, walk-in wardrobe and greenhouse.

Last modified on Monday, 04 May 2015 12:26

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