Location: Taos, New Mexico
Daily life in the developed world is rife with environmental vice. From when we wake up to when we go to sleep, our activity in contributes to some environmental problem or another. Our impact is nearly unavoidable. We can unplug our electronics and take shorter showers and avoid air conditioning, but there’s always a hidden cost when living a modern lifestyle. Is there any reasonable way escape doing imminent harm?
One “radically sustainable” alternative to a conventional home may be the solution some are looking for. Earthships, built by Earthship Biotecture, have been development for over forty years by renowned architect Michael Reynolds to address all of the environmental problems associated with daily life. The structures range in complexity from a Simple Survival model to an integrated Earthship Village and enable owners to live completely off the grid with next to no environmental impact. Solar and wind power provide electricity, while insulation and use of the Earth’s thermal mass make conventional heating and cooling technology obsolete. Water, which comes from collection installments on the outside of Earthships, is conserved and reused in sinks, showers, and toilets as well as in the buildings’ “botanical cells,” aka planters. These planters, integrated into the inside and outside of the architecture, are designed to make Earthships even more self-sufficient, as they can grow a portion of their own food. Even Earthships’ structural elements are sustainably built, using 45% recycled materials ranging from tires to build the outside structure and used bottles and cans for interior walls. All together, these systems create homes that are not only self-sustaining and resilient but also visually striking to the point of whimsical beauty.
Though the majority of Earthship Biotecture’s business is in consulting on, designing, and building homes for private buyers, they also want to spread the Earthship gospel to the general public. One way in which they do this is through Earthship Rentals, which allow the opportunity for an environmental, self-sustaining sojourn in Taos, New Mexico in an Earthship home. Their various rental options showcase the features, from Wi-Fi to fireplaces, that can be integrated into an Earthship to make it just as comfortable as a conventional home. The business also brings their designs into disaster relief efforts in places as far as Malawi and the Phillipines, showing their commitment to the idea of simply constructed buildings that can withstand the tests of nature. These two tenets, resilience and easy construction, are key in the Earthship mentality because, for Michael Reynolds and his followers, Earthships aren’t just buildings. They’re a way to be radically but securely self-sustaining and self-reliant. They’re a vision of the future.
Environmental Impact: Avoided deforestation, efficient water use, avoided water contamination, and avoided use of fossil fuels (including avoided emission of GHGs and harmful substances)
Measurement: Earthship Biotecture
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