New Earthships capture more energy, water & food at lower cost


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With walls made from old tires packed with earth, as well as upcycled glass bottles and cans, Earthships have always been built with mainly found materials.

The home provides its own energy (with photovoltaics and passive solar and geothermal tubes), water (rainwater and even dew-water capture) and grows food in the essential greenhouse (necessary for temperature regulation and for filtering the water to be reused).

Costs range from $100,000 for a Simple Survival model to $1.5 million for the top-of-the-line Global design. Earthship Biotecture has just completed their first Encounter: an affordable model that provides all the power, water and good of a more costly home.

Deborah Binder has been building Earthships for the past 8 years, both her own home, and community projects in places like Malawi and Puerto Rico. She gave us a tour of the first Encounter build, as well as the Global model she is test-living.

How does the intensified greenhouse growing in new Earthships improve self-sufficiency?

New Earthships Capture More Energy, Water & Food at Lower Cost

The term Earthship is often associated with sustainable and environmentally friendly housing. It involves constructing houses widely using recycled materials, and self-sustained and self-sufficient technologies to harness solar energy and manage water resources. Earthships are built around the world, but the most iconic examples are found in the United States, specifically in Taos, New Mexico.

The development of new Earthships promises to enhance previous models and make them even more affordable, efficient and sustainable. They are designed to capture more energy and water, while providing food production options, and they come at a lower cost.

One of the essential features of the new Earthships is the incorporation of intensified greenhouse growing. Among the kinds of food which can be grown include fruits, vegetables, and crops, in addition to medicinal and culinary herbs. The Earthship Global Network reports that the new designs can provide about eighty percent of the food supply for a family of four.

An earthship uses principles of passive solar design which provide natural light and ventilation. Passive solar design enables maximization of sunlight for warmth and light, which minimizes the need for artificial lighting and heating. Water conservation is maximized through rainwater collection of up to 14,000 gallons per year for every thousand square feet of roof surface. Greywater or waste water from sinks, showers and other household appliances is treated and reused for irrigation of plants.

The new designs also incorporate heating and cooling systems, namely the Front Ventilation System (FVS) and the Thermal Wrap. The FVS brings in the fresh air and expels moist, stale air. This system significantly improves indoor air quality and reduces reliance on energy-consuming heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The thermal wrap increases the capacity of the design to hold and store heat throughout the home during the colder months.

Furthermore, the new Earthships have been designed to be more affordable for homeowners. Construction costs have been reduced without compromising on the essential features such as energy efficiency, and water conservation. They have been designed to enable homeowners to construct their own homes, lowering the costs even further.

In conclusion, the new Earthships offer a unique and practical approach to sustainable living. By capturing more energy, water, and food, while being affordable to construct and maintain, they maximize the potential of passive solar design and harness sustainable technology. The incorporation of modern design and function has also increased the style and comfort of Earthships, opening up the possibility of eco-friendly living to a wider range of people.

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