During the 1970’s oil crisis my father would often talk about building a underground house on the vacant lot we owned and all of the energy benefits that came along with it. Those talks really helped to inspire my habitation dreams.
When I started to wrap my mind around the idea of building a house, the first concepts were to make it very efficient, low energy consumption and solar powered. During that initial research phase the term “Earthship” kept coming up. As I researched what an Earthship was and all the different ways they could be built, it appeared to be the perfect synergy of my dream home desires. For those of you that have never heard of or don’t know what Earthship means, read THIS ARTICLE that explains the basics. I decided to jump in and fulfill my dream starting in 2001.
Besides huge energy savings, another key aspect to Earthship building is the cost per square foot to build. I spent around $100 per square foot, which is unheard of living so close to a resort town.
There are many ways to build Earthships; rammed earth in tires or straw-bale are two of the more common. I decided to build mine out of concrete. Why concrete you ask? My first thought was of the three little pigs. My second thought was that concrete is a great passive solar material. Its ability to store and release energy is one the best when it comes to building materials. Not to mention it is really available. In fact, most of the worlds homes are made out of some form of concrete. You can stack concrete blocks like Legos or have your walls poured in place, like I did.
Some of the key features of my Earthship are:
1. The north side is bermmed into a hill. This provides good shelter from the elements and helps to create a micro-climate enveloping the house and garden.
2. The south side is all sloped glass, which allows for maximum heat and energy gain from the sun.
3. Year-round gardening using natural light. We grow a lot of our own food from the indoor jungle. Some of our tomato plants are several years old.
4. Gathering light during the dark periods of the year limits the effects of seasonal affective disorder.
5. The grounding effects of my Earthship helps me stay more connected to the rhythms of nature.
Thanks for the inspiration Dad. Dream accomplished.