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Alternative Housing - Green Home of the Future

Updated on April 17, 2016
Chemosphere, built in 1960 By John Lautner, overlooks the San Fernando Valley
Chemosphere, built in 1960 By John Lautner, overlooks the San Fernando Valley | Source

The Home of the Future is Greener Than it Used to Be

Everybody remembers the Jetsons, and their fully automated home. Poor George came flying home, exhausted after a hard day of pushing buttons (hey, kind of sounds like my old job).

Jane put in a lot of mental effort, preparing dinner by making a selection on the food synthesizing machine, and all manual labor had been virtually eliminated.

While the present hasn't quite lined up with that vision of "future of the past," do we really want it to? Some things just can't be automated, like a home cooked meal or a beautiful garden. The future of the present is greener, and less automated than that future we had envisioned.

Chemosphere 1960 Built By John Lautner

Photo by Podknox via flicker Creative Commons 2.0

The Future of the Past

Automated "Homes of the Future" have been popular exhibits at the Worlds Fair for decades, but up until now the reality hasn't actually matched up with the fantasy. After all, we don't have robots to do all the housework, or machines to synthesize our food.

But what can we expect going forward? What's in OUR future? I'd actually like to think we're going to be taking a step backward in a way.

OUR Future

My vision of the home of the future, is a self-contained home, an eco-home. One that makes all of it's own power.

It's not as if the technology for these homes is some futuristic dream, the technology already exists, if only our society and the powers that be will embrace it.

That wouldn't mean we would have to do without modern conveniences. Automation could work hand in hand with self-sufficiency to make it even more efficient.

Earth Ships

This Home was Designed by Michael Reynolds - The Garbage Warrior

There's an architect in New Mexico, Michael Reynolds, he builds dwellings called Earth Ships. They are completely self-contained, and produce all of their own energy.

They're made of old tires, bottles and cans, and dirt. They even use the roof to collect their own water, store it underneath the house for domestic use, and also use it to cool the house.

Whole communities of people have been living in these things for decades. They're really very beautiful, but they remind me more of the Flintstones than the Jetsons.

A Green Home Made From Recycled Materials

Photo by David Friedel via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo by David Friedel via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Garbage Warrior - Michael Reynolds' Story

There is a great movie about Michael Reynolds. It is called GARBAGE WARRIOR. I love this movie, if you're interested in green technology, living off the grid, and fighting city hall and winning, this is a great story.

If you don't mind watching it on your computer, you can actually watch the full length movie for free on YouTube.

How to build a simple EarthShip

Zerohouse | Source

The Zerohouse

A More "Futuristic" Looking Eco House

The Zerohouse is a prototype of a 650 square foot home designed by New York architect Scott Specht. Despite it's ultra-modern appearance, it is similar to the Earth Ships built by Michael Reynolds, in that it collects water from the roof, and produces all of it's own electricity.

This modular home has the advantage that it could be moved anywhere, even where traditional building is not possible. It has a self-contained waste system so no sewer or perk and mantle for septic system is needed.

Photos used with permission from Specht Harpman Architects

This is the Zerohouse

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The Future is Here

Most modern homes do use at least some automation.

For instance the programmable thermostat on your heating and air conditioning. You can set it to different temperatures for different times of the day, so the heat stays off while you're scheduled to be away, and comes on just before you get home, so you save energy and still come home to a comfortable house.

Perhaps you also have an automated sprinkler system for your lawn and garden, so it stays watered on schedule whether you're home or not, and if you still have a land line, surely you have an automated answering system for your phone.

If you want to go high-tech, there are now fully integrated security systems, that allow homeowners to view their homes from remote locations through their mobile phone. You can also use the system to control thermostats, appliances, lights, television and stereo equipment. There are new "smart" appliances that are supposed to work with the electric company's "smart meter" and be able to tell whether anybody's in the house, and turn themselves off when they're not needed.

I've even seen refrigerators with computer screens on them, you can stand in the kitchen and browse the internet or watch TV. The fridge even keeps track of what's inside it, and makes your shopping list for you. And there are ovens that keep your food cold till it's time to cook it. You can pre-program it, or turn it on with the internet or your mobile phone.

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    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 

      5 years ago

      I love the garbage warrior's design.

    • shewins profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @NekoIchi: I think they're beautiful. The old bottles look like stained glass.

    • NekoIchi profile image


      5 years ago

      Perhaps I have weird taste, but I think that house made out of recycled materials looked pretty cool.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      5 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      We've toyed with the idea of underground living to save on energy costs. I love the idea of green houses, but I wish they were a bit more attractive.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Tremendous! I love to read about green homes and initiatives.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I don't like the fact that we may be getting a bit on the lazy side with all the technological advances, but these are kind of cool.

    • shewins profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @jvcronje: Good point jvcronje. It's not all or nothing, we can all take baby steps. I'd like to know more about your solar hot water. Is it a passive solar system?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Even though many people cannot afford something like a "zerohouse", there are many things everybody can do to move towards this concept. Making sure your house is well insulated, using energy saving bulbs and having a solar hot water system are all within the reach of every homeowner. That goes for collecting rainwater as well. One could go one step further and get a solar oven. I made one myself and we've been using it for three years now. One thing everybody realizes by now, is that we cannot go on the way way have been doing till now.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 

      6 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I remember hearing of Earthships several years ago and was fascinated. I'd love a green home that looks a bit more traditional - the eco homes that look like spaceships or have lots of straight lines are too harsh looking for a home, I think.

      Straw bale houses are cute and cosy, though.

    • shewins profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Michelle Hogan: I remember reading about earth sheltered homes that were dug into a hillside. That's a great suggestion. Thanks so much for the advice and for visiting my lens.

    • Michelle Hogan profile image

      Michelle Hogan 

      6 years ago

      I have been studying underground home designs since the 70's. If you care to add a module on them, here is a link for your research;

      Underground homes offer excellent natural insulating attributes. Depending on your latitude, and altitude, to a certain extent, you dig down far enough and the surrounding earth remains at a nice 65 degrees. With proper barrier management, you can have a fairly warm, dry and bright home under the earth.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I stumbled over this lens and I really love these ideas! I too was dreaming of making a 'step backwards' - back to nature. To have a small, energy-independent house and a small garden / greenhouse to grow my own food.


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