Earthship Homes Sustainable Living

Earthship Homes Sustainable Living

Earthship Homes use approximately 45 per cent recycled materials. Old tyres, glass bottles and drinks cans are all essential construction materials. Michael Reynolds the inventor and owner of Earthships Biotecture describes the buildings as vessels. “These vessels encounter the phenomena of the earth, to provide sustenance for people.” These vessels do everything for themselves, producing all the electricity, collecting all its drinking water and taking care of all wastewater.



Construction prices may vary from $110 per square foot to $1.5 million bunkers. An Earthship vessel requires a lot of labour and dedication to the Earthship ethos. Everything from collecting all the necessary materials available locally to pounding the tyres for the vessel frame. Typically, a tyre used in an Earthship home is packed with 136kg (300lb) of earth.

Garbage Warriors

Earthship vessels are self-sustaining homes constructed from reclaimed materials.

Earthship homes are unique because they do not require utility grids, water and sewage pipelines. Therefore, giving the vessel owner physically independence. Each vessel gets everything its inhabitants need from nature. Sun, rain, gravity, wind, condensation, convection all come together to create a living breathing habitat that takes care of its occupants. 

Michael Reynolds says the six essential things that humanity needs are water, electricity, comfortable shelter, sewage treatment, garbage and food. The Earthship proposes to provide all these things at no additional cost to its inhabitants.

Variable Designs

Over the past 30 years, the design of the Earthship Homes varied considerably. From Mexico to Malawi, India, Canada and the Philippines. It appears the Earthships homes work best in warm climates. Colder climates require additional heating sources to keep the home temperature regulated during the winter months.

Before the construction phase, it is recommended you consider energy modelling to predict the particular energy performance of your vessel. Modelling software look at a variety of things including insulation thicknesses, they can account for sun angles and micro climates. Thus, informing you whether your interior climate and temperatures are appropriate for an Earthship Home.

Earthship Visitor Center near Taos, New Mexico. Image: R0Ng | (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Flickr
The hobbit like earthship homes. Image: Jenny Parkins | (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Flickr

Adaptations to Consider

Critics of these homes argue about the door and window design, room placement, lack of separation of the house from the greenhouse. As well as, the abundance of underground insects in the home and leaking roofs are design problems. Furthermore, another major concern is the off-gassing of the tyres, which could potentially expose vessel occupants to volatile chemicals and heavy metal.  The thermal mass is attributed to the thick earth berm and packed earth walls, not the tyres.


Alternative adaptations include an aquaponics household system for water purification and greywater harvesting. Hydroponics is ideal in the greenhouse for leaf vegetables. Solar panels and solar water heaters are recommended. Biogas would be ideal for food waste, other organic non-food waste should be composted. Additionally, vermiculture would work well for toilets.


Presently, there are various ways to upgrade the Earthship design with modern sustainable technologies. However, the installation and improvements mentioned do not necessarily save money but they do reduce grid dependency.


Above is a video of fabulous Taso, New Mexico Earthship.

Below is a video of the Groundhouse an Earthship vessel constructed in Brittany, France.

Feature Image:

earthship homes
Earthship Biotecture, Taos, New Mexico. Image: Warren LeMay | Flickr


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Pages of interest

You Might Also Like


Algal Bloom to Algae as Fuel

Algae is a term used to describe a wide variety of aquatic photosynthetic organisms. This includes both macroscopic, multicellular organisms (seaweed) and microscopic, unicellular organisms

Speed light

Slowing Down the Speed of Light

The astronomer Ole Rømer first demonstrated the speed of light in 1676. “A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field” by James Clerk Maxwell showed how

Flood control

Flood Control – Pop Up Dam

The Water-Gate Barrier acts like a pop up dam. It can be used for flood control and toxic spills with very minimal infrastructure.

flat-pack construction Blueprints

Flat-Pack Construction

A modern modular take on flat-pack construction, Ten Fold Engineering has an innovative design that makes flat-pack housing and construction units desirable and luxurious. The

air conditioner

Air Conditioner uses no Electricity

This A/C unit cools without using electricity. An eco-friendly air conditioners for the steamy climate of New Delhi, created by the Architecture firm Ant Studio.

Circuits conductive

Draw Circuits with Conductive Ink

Circuits and Conductive Materials Electrical and electronics are complicated subjects to grasp and implement for a majority of people. The reason even self-build home projects

Cubo modular bamboo

Cubo Modular Bamboo Housing

Cubo modular bamboo housing is the brainchild of Earl Patrick Forlales. Manila, Philippines has a housing problem similar to many other cities around the world.

You Might Also Like