Live Green - Earthship Biotecture-Earth Friendly, Sustainable and Beautiful Homes


Just outside of Taos, New Mexico, new homes seem to spring from the very earth itself. They blend in with the scenery and do not detract from the view. They are Earthships, made of trash and free local materials.

The folks at Earthship Biotecture create sustainable building and building systems for single family residences or commercial use. Earthship Biotecture uses the by-products of our civilization to create comfortable and attractive homes and buildings. They offer seminars, lectures, tours and rentals so that interested parties can experience day to day life in an Earthship.

The sustainable life endorsed by Earthship Biotecture includes sustainable components to build, heat, cool and provide water and electricity in an economical manner while reducing waste and wear and tear on our planet.

Earthship Biotecture proves that being Green and living frugally is absolutely beautiful. Who would think that trash could be turned into such lovely homes?


Heating and Cooling

Thermal heating and cooling results in comfortable buildings that use little or no fossil fuels . Of course, different climates call for different designs. The examples features here are being built outside of Taos, New Mexico and are adapted to the unique climate there.

Thermal temperature systems use the temperature stored under the earth's surface. A steady 58 degrees below surface temperature can be pumped into the home to cool it in the hot season.

Solar heat collected by solar panels and stored in the the mass of the building is used to heat the house during warmer months. Wind power can be used as well.

Insulation is the key to comfortable and economical temperature control. The dense mass of building materials means there are no pockets or air spaces to interfere with good insulation.

Filling Tires for Outer Walls


The Building

The building materials used to create the dense mass good for insulation are stone, compacted soil, concrete and used tires.

The outer wall are built with stacked tires filled with compacted soil then covered with a coat of adobe made of equal parts of dirt and sand mixed with water and straw. A second coat used twice as much sand to prevent cracking.

Inner, non-load bearing walls are constructed of stacked, empty aluminum cans covered by adobe or cement. Glass bottles cut in half and taped together allow light to pass through the walls and crate a visually pleasing design. the wall look jewel bedecked!

The Outer Walls Are Made of Tires



Without city or well water as backup, Earthships use rain and snowmelt to supply water to the home.

Water is carried from the roof's surface, made of potable materials, to cisterns. the cisterns are buried and protected from the heat of the sun to avoid evaporation.

Water can be heated by solar panels, biodiesel, or natural gas. A heat-on-demand system can provide hot water when you want it instead of the constant heating required by old fashioned water heaters.

Water is used and cleaned by interior botanical cells for multiple uses. Planters provide a filtering system. Sink and shower water can then be used to flush toilets.

The septic tank is heated to speed up the anaerobic process that breaks down toxic materials.


Earthship Wetlands use the concept of wetland filtration to clean water from sinks and showers. the planter used to filter the water can be used to grow vegetables! Siting the planters is important to ensure adequate light for optimum growing conditions.

Earthships thwart possible threats to normal living. War, computer glitches, energy shortages, economic crisis, and power-grid interruptionsĀ  can interfere with your ability to acquire adequate fuel, electricity and water for your home.

As you can see from the photographs, Earthship Biotecture is a practical and economical answer to the problem of sustainable living. This new, sensible technology produces comfortable, attractive buildings that do not depend on fossil fuels or hastily built structures thrown up by developers only in it for quick profit.

Earthship Under Construction


Earthship - Taos New Mexico


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Comments 15 comments

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Certainly makes you wonder why we haven't been building homes like this all along.

Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Do the people that build them need planning permission?

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

JamaJGenee, I guess at one time they did, or they did out west, maybe not exactly like these but close. The old adobe homes of the past did look like they sprang out of the earth and were very well insulated.

Hawkesdream, I do not pretend to know all but I imagine they must. This is a well known, real business and not just a bunch of 'characters.' They help you find a building lot too. I bet there are big differences between building in a city and out in the middle of nowhere. (But what a nowhere, it looks like heaven)

Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Sometimes nowhere is the best place to be.

EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

I love the Earthships. There's a pretty good sized upfront investment, but then you're pretty much free. Everything is recycled and self-sustaining. It's not just the one company either, they just were smart enough to figure out that not everybody has the ability or desire to build one on their own. You can actually buy plans from several different sources and there are also a few groups that facilitate people who want to create an Earthship community. Many of them get together and build the Earthships for each other as a collective group.

They do require permits and all that because the government has to make sure they get an opportunity to collect fees.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

Alison, I do agree. Somewhere is too busy and frantic and covered with asphalt.

Eye, thanks for the comment and xtra info. While I almost always agree with your snide synicicsm (I know I didn't spell that one right) and the government can get darn right oppressive what with all the permits and fees (which is why I don't have a pond even though I planned to build one but the local government said I needed to build a new fence and have the inspector come out if I wanted to dig it more than 3 feet deep and around here, if it isn't 3 feet deep all the fish and frogs die over the winter - but that is another story) but, it's good to have some official inspection of a building so that it does not fall down on your head. There are some unscrupulous developers out there, Eye, believe it or not, and may not attend to saftey issuses without government intervention.

EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

I don't disagree at all that it's good to have a proper inspection, but I think you would be surprised just how often government intervention actually stands in the way of a proper inspection. Both in cases of corruption, where inspectors are payed off by those unscrupulous developers, and the bureaucratic process itself. One rather prime example (from a different industry) is the situation where cattle ranchers wanted to test their cattle for mad cow disease, at their own expense, but the FDA would not allow them to because it would "give them a competitive advantage" over ranchers who chose not to do so. 

The other, less visible, effect of government intervention is that people become reliant on it and are conditioned to be less involved personally. Basically, the "they wouldn't be able to get away with selling a house that was built over a sinkhole" mentality and the false sense of security it provides.

People could very easily hire a qualified proffesional to preform an inpection on their behalf. Someone whose performance and the satisfaction of their customers would impact whether they would be hired by others. Which, in and of itself, would create an incentive for them to do a proper inspection. It would also create a situation where the inspector was personally accountable to the buyers and therefore the process would be much more transparent and conducive to involvement by that buyer.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

Eye, I certainly agree with you on the corruptive influence of government where common sense does not always prevail. And, of course plenty people do hire private inspectors. However, there should be a balance. Placing all the responsibilty in the hands of private, for profit people and or companies is not always the best bet as we have seen from the guiding philosophy of the past several year's free market baloney.

Eye, you are starting to sound less like an anarchist than a libertarian. (That's okay, I like you anyway) A sound, uncoruptible government needs to balance the profit motive. All systems, when large enough can be corrupted and unfair decisions made that thwart the regular folks to benefit the larger, more powerful profit seeking corporate entities. I guess you can't really trust anybody any more. But I guess you never could. Thanks so much for your interest, Eye4.

EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

The last several years were very far from a free market and there's no such thing as an incorruptible government. I'm very much fine with small systems, instead of massive corporations whose only interest is making a profit, but there are plenty of ways for consumers to offset their influence, most obviously being the fact that they are the source of that profit. The vast majority of times governments function as an enabler for those unfair decisions, rather than a protection for the regular folks. The last nine months have been a great example of that.

Most Libertarians are Anarchists, who are just afraid to go all the way. The rest are people who are too cheap to pay taxes and like to play with guns.

And you're very welcome. ;^)

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

Eye4 (LOL) of course I was joking about an uncorruptible government, that's just a dream. And the free market I refer to is the unregulated free for all where the investment bankers, and hedge fund investers played fast and loose with people's mortgages and pensions. It's fine to say that normal people should avoid patronizing certain business outfits, but the average person has no idea who is handling the pension or if the mortgage loan has been bundled off to parts unknown.

The reason that the government, especially the federal government, is so in the pocket of corporations is because administrations since the 1980's have 'privatized' a lot of government work. Private, for profit companies are creating the information that the government is using to make decisions. (For iinstance, I was shocked to discover that nearly 70% of the CIA foreign intelligence gathering operations are 'outsourced,' performed by private, for profit companies.)

I don't want private companies running the country. :)

EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

The government being in the pockets of corporations didn't start in 1980. Nor will you find me arguing that having the government remove any protections they do offer and then offsetting any risk that companies might encounter through subsidies and guarantees is a good idea. However, the fact that the government is constantly being manipulated and used as a tool to exploit the average citizen is hardly an argument to support its necessity.

I don't want private companies running the country either, which is why I'm not in favor of a giant, largely unaccountable group, that spends most of its time facilitating that very arrangement.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

Eye4 - I think we agree that the trouble comes when government and corportations become too large and so too powerful. Then, their primary agenda becomes maintaining that power.

I am not saying that corporate influence over the federal government began in 1980, but that the government turned a lot of work over to private companies and the percentage of government work in private hands has increased dramatically since then.

Sun360 profile image

Sun360 5 years ago

Nice and well written article which is well shared.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

Thank you, Sun.

Dr Rockpile profile image

Dr Rockpile 5 years ago from USA

I'd love to see an Earthship in person. I'll be checking out their website. Thanks.

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