Sunday, October 5, 2008

Earthship Florida

Recommended by Chris:

We're Making History In Florida!

Florida’s first Earthship is being built in Manatee County. Designed to be in harmony with the environment and entirely self sufficient, this sustainable structure uses recycled and indigenous materials, generates its own electricity and processes its own waste with NO impact on the environment.

An Earthship is considered an Earthen home. An Earthen home is a house made of materials from around the build site, dirt mainly.

This building technique is as old as human history, but exactly suitable for today's resource-conscious and environmentally friendly building needs. Trees may be getting a bit scarce these days, but there's no shortage of dirt, the main component of earthen homes.

Earth is the ultimate form of "green" building construction, creating no environmental pollution and consuming virtually no energy.

FACT: There are 6 billion people on the planet and 3 billion of them live in Earthen structures and homes.

The science behind this low-tech construction process is fascinating and we want to share it with you.

LISTEN NOW to a podcast about this project!


Earthship Facts


Earthships are made out of recycled materials, such as tires and soda cans.

Earthships catch water from the sky and use it up to four times.

Water is heated from either the sun or by natural gas, but they can have city/county water as a backup water supply.

Earthships produce their own electricity, but can have multiple energy sources such as solar and wind-generated energy. The energy is stored in batteries and supplied to electrical outlets in the home.

Earthships contain and reuse all household sewage in indoor and outdoor treatment cells. The waste is used for food production and in landscaping.

Earthship toilets flush with greywater that does not smell.

Because of the way they’re built, Earthships maintain comfortable temperatures in any climate.

— Information obtained from Earthship Biotecture.


A Word from Our Contractor...

Some of you may know already, but I have been commissioned to build an Earthship, the first one of its kind here in Florida. There are Earthships in nearly every state in the US and many in other countries around the globe, but Florida's strict building code has apparently kept other contractors from putting one up here in the sunshine state. I have spent the last month working with an engineer and with Michael Reynolds to take a set of plans from Earthship Biotecture and provide enough detail to begin the approval process for Florida.

An Earthship is basically a self-contained home; it isn't a dependent structure like a traditional house would be, there are no wires or pipes bringing in outside utilities (off-the-grid). The home has a very slight environmental footprint; it isn't a burden on its surroundings, it works in harmony with the environment. The home is constructed of many recycled materials; things that are normally discarded and taking up space in a landfill. The outside walls are made of used tires pounded full of compacted earth; bottles and cans become "bricks" in the other walls and parapets. The roof of the structure is designed to capture rainwater and channel it into cisterns for storage and ultimately for use inside the home. It is pumped through a series of filters depending on its end use. The greywater that comes from sinks, tubs, washing machines and the likes is directed into a botanical cell in the solarium of the home, this is basically a constructed wetlands with gravel, peat moss, and plants that not only clean the water, but also use the nutrients in it to provide oxygen for the air and food and foliage for the inhabitants of the Earthship. After the water passes through the botanical cell, it is picked up and reused to flush the toilets. Blackwater coming out of the toilets goes into a solar septic tank which accelerates the anaerobic process by heating up the waste material with solar energy using the same principals as a solar oven. The broken-down solids are basically inert and free of human pathogens; the solids are then washed through with liquid waste. This mixture passes through yet another biological filter outside being cleaned by the plants before returning to the earth. The water captured from the roof is used three times before it is returned clean; much different than a traditional house!

The home uses only solar for its electrical needs, therefore it is necessary to make the home as energy-efficient as possible so as not to waste any of the precious energy that is captured by the photovoltaic cells. The building is positioned on the lot and is constructed in a manner to take maximum advantage of passive solar opportunities; this significantly reduces the need for external heating and cooling. The home itself is made of 3' thick earthen walls (remember the tires pounded full of earth) outside these walls, the earth is bermed up providing even more thermal mass, this produces a sort of underground effect for heating and cooling. The earth maintains a pretty constant temperature below the surface, using this principal there will be a series of pipes buried underground running into the home; operable skylights in the roof sections of the house will allow hot air to escape, drawing air in through the underground pipes where it will be cooled by the earth before entering the home...air conditioning without electricity or CFCs!!! In addition to this temperature conditioning method, the home will use very efficient L.E.D. lighting throughout the home; Led’s not only use very little energy to produce light, but they also last a very long time reducing the need to replace light bulbs. The home will use energy-efficient D.C. appliances where possible.

In Michael Reynolds assessment, an Earthship is a contained vessel that has everything you need to survive within itself, food, shelter, water, and energy.

We have decided that this build is important to get people talking and coming up with solutions to the problems we are facing today: rising energy costs and shortages, food shortages which are being exacerbated by the diversion of food crops to energy production, and an increasingly polluted environment. To that end, we are opening up this build to people who are interested in learning more about the systems that go into making such a home work, and to those who just want to get some hands-on experience building an Earthship.

I am excited as we move ahead on this project and look forward to working with a group of interested individuals.

Bryan Roberts
Eco-Tech Construction
CGC 1515073


Anonymous said...

It sounds like state of the art technology and construction. What does the overall cost of a project of this size cost?

catherine todd said...

Dear Anonymous, I would like to know construction costs also. Contact directly, and if you find any information, please let me know! Comment here or email me directly.

Thanks, Catherine Todd,

Earthship Biotecture said...

for more information on Earthship Biotecture, please see