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Sustainable Alternatives: Earthships

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darius

darius
So.App.Mtns.
United States
(Zone 5b)

March 11, 2007
6:39 PM

Post #3270997

I first saw these years ago, then more information became available when Dennis Weaver built his Earthship. The overall designs are reminiscent of David Wright, AIA, who published some books in the 60's/70's of some passive solar homes in the southwestern US. I wouldn't be surprised to find him involved in the Earthship concepts.

Although most of us cannot include ALL the concepts in one package, it really is nice to see that some can!

Here are 2 introductory film clips... Part 1 and Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9jdIm7grCY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlrhxqat_6A&NR
garden_mermaid
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 11, 2007
7:18 PM

Post #3271084

Very interesting darius. Thanks for posting!
AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

March 11, 2007
10:35 PM

Post #3271543

Gee, I wish my computer had sound. Maybe the next one. These houses remind me of the Cosanti and Arcosanti developments in Arizona. I would SO like to live off the grid - someday.

frostweed

frostweed
Josephine, Arlington, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 12, 2007
12:35 AM

Post #3271842

I love it, How neat!!!
garden_mermaid
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 12, 2007
7:33 PM

Post #3273973

darius, did you notice any information available of the seismic testing of earthships? I'm wondering how they hold up in earthquake/volcano country. Cement type walls tend to crack and crumble when we surf the earth plates. Maybe there is reinforcement in there that I just couldn't see in the videos.
spot8907
Ida, MI

March 12, 2007
9:14 PM

Post #3274248

I was surfing around and found this site with real estate listings for homes in the Greater World Community, I think its in Arizona. Personally, you couldn't give me one of these things! I understand the idea of fewer possesions, I practice it myself but if you look at these things they are just stark and ugly, I could not imagine myself living in one of these. Plus what about those solar panels and batteries, is this REALLY sustainable? How long do the batteries last? The solar panels? Now look at the land around these things, IT"S DESERT! You couldn't grow a tomato if your life depended on it. I have dialup so it would take me forever to view the youtube links posted so please tell me is this the same thing they are showing or simoilar?

Here is the site.
http://taosearthships.com/

The only thing I see here that is really interesting is the use of the tires as walls. But IMHO sustainable does not have to mean ugly and these things are downright ugly and even trashy looking. Plus like I said, while solar energy is a step in the right direction, right now The technology doesn't really allow it to be SUSTAINABLE. Sooner or later all that equipment has to replaced then the old stuff will hit the landfill, my guess this stuff is high maint. also. And how much water can you collect in a desert? I notice they "have access to a community well". Seems to me this Greater World Community is nothing but a gimmick for suckers.

darius

darius
So.App.Mtns.
United States
(Zone 5b)

March 12, 2007
9:35 PM

Post #3274299

Spot, I think that's a BIG part of why I am a staunch supporter of PASSIVE Solar... no moving parts, nothing to replace. WHY do almost all builders site a house parallel with the road instead of orienting it with the sun? The correct orientation of windows (to the sun), overhangs to block summer sun, and a heavy heat collecting mass (like concrete, maybe with an overlay of tile or slate) can do wonders to use the sun and reduce energy costs.

I agree that many Earthships are not attractive, but utilizing used tires as the insulating walls holds some interest for me.

G_M, I haven't seen any seismic testing stats on Earthships. I do know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed a hotel in Japan that rested on the ground rather than being pinned to the ground, and it withstood earthquakes when conventional buildings did not.
spot8907
Ida, MI

March 12, 2007
10:21 PM

Post #3274411

Don't get me wrong darius, I like the idea of using the old tires for walls I think that idea has tremendous merit, but whoever "designed" those things I was looking at should be shot. Maybe one of the things they consider sustainable about them is that they will lower the population by making people who live in them so depressed they kill themselves!LOL
Seriously, sustainable doesn't have to mean ugly, the pictures posted on this forum of homes built using recycled materials proves that. Also building any home in the desert simply isn't really suitable for a sustainable lifestyle because you would be entirely dependant on other areas for your food supply and therefore depend on fossile fuels to bring them to you. Plus you really cant depend on collected rainwater for even your most basic needs. So you have a place to live but nothing to eat or drink, see what I'm saying?

Imho wind generated POWER is far more sustainable. We have to begin to realize that people were around for a long time before electricity and survived just fine. Windmills were around a long time before the industrial age. The average guy can repair them and they can be used to pump water, grind grain etc. etc. I'm not even convinced that electricity for the amount of people filling the earth is truly sustainable.
Lets face it there were communities all over the world that were self sustaining up until recently, we are going to have to start thinking outside the box of what currently consider "necessity" to be truly sustainable. These silly things like this Greater world community thing are gimmicks, they represent a drop in quality of life while really not addressing sustainability in a meaningfull way. JMHO
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

March 12, 2007
10:27 PM

Post #3274426

I wasn't brave enough to say the above. My problem with earthen-type dwellings is my intense need for LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT. Couldn't stand to have dark recesses.

Truly sustainable living probably would mean vacating large areas of the country, including the Great Plains!
spot8907
Ida, MI

March 12, 2007
10:53 PM

Post #3274499

Actually the great plains are one of the greatest food producing areas in the world and could support a lot of self sustaining communities. To be truly sustainable you have to put the food and the people in close proximity. The traditional old family farm is truly a sustainable system and modern technological ideas could be used to create greater quality of life on a smaller amount of land per person. But one area that would definately have to go is the desert southwast. The modern promised land. There is deffinately no way that area could support all the people living there now much less further developement. At least not with we know today. Its a no brainer but people insist they just have to live there so they can have sunshine year round, rediculous. Should the bottom fall out of the current system, as it appears it just may, people in that area will have absolutely no way to survive.
I don't have any problem with earthen type dwellings, they can be designed to be just as comfortable and pleasant as regular dwellings. I guess I was just shocked. These things are being touted as the ultimate in sustainability but this particular developement at least leaves much to be desired. Another thing I was thinking of. This developement has a minimum of 20 acres per home and it is in the middle of the desert, just imagine the amount of gas you would use for a trip to the grocery store much less a commute back and forth to work 5 days a week, sustainable? Ha! And thats not to mention the fuel cost of trucking all those tires out there to the desert! LOL

Now if you designed these things to be pleasant to look at and live in which you could, and built them in a subdivision style utilizing all the solar and other technologies they do I would say you have an improvement over the present system, which would be good, Improvement is good. But like I said building these things in the middle of the desert and toughting them as being sustainable is a sham.
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

March 12, 2007
11:08 PM

Post #3274546

That's a good point. What I like is the idea of avoiding community infrastructure such as power lines & waste systems.

Sure wouldn't want to pound all that dirt or whatever into the tires. Looked like an insurmountable amount of work for a bird-armed woman such as myself!
gloria125
Greensboro, AL

March 16, 2007
8:36 PM

Post #3289514

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cjy8Mt4hn_QC&dq=rural+studio

The Rural Studio is a class of Auburn University architectural students who have been working in Hale County where I live for a number of years. The concept originated with Sam Mockbee, who died young of Leukemia. But his contribution is still felt as a major impact here in impoverished rural Alabama. Some of the structures were built from tires, some from straw bales.
spot8907
Ida, MI

March 16, 2007
9:01 PM

Post #3289603

Thanks for the heads up on this guy Gloria. Now this guy created designs that I could live in! Heres a link with some pictures of his work and a little biography.

http://archrecord.construction.com/features/aiaAwards/04mockbee-1.asp

summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

March 16, 2007
11:33 PM

Post #3290204

I have several books on Samuel Mockbee that I'm happy to lend out.

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