There has been a lot of focus in the news recently concerning green building particularly in light of the new green building codes that have recently gone into effect in California, you can read more about that here:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0115/California-adopts-first-statewide-green-building-code

I definitely applaud this move and it is part of a larger move in California on most fronts to increase the sustainable initiatives in the state as California becomes the national leader in green technology and sustainability.  Steps have included the million solar roofs initiatives, the largest commercial solar fields in the nation and groundbreaking greenhouse gas emission legislation.

However today the sustainable building I would like to discuss is some very cool work being done in the high desert areas of New Mexico which were originally designed and constructed by architect Mike Reynolds.

The Earthships as they are called, use rammed earth tires to create the foundations and load bearing walls of the structure, they also make use of passive solar heating methods and typically also are solar-powered.  Many of the early Earthships used composting toilets with recent innovations allowing for typical water toilets to be used.  Along with these features homes typically recycle grey water, do rain catchment and include gardens.  All in all the system is very cool, low-cost and uses nothing but natural and easily available materials that the rest of society considers trash.  Additionally, internal non-load bearing walls are often honeycombed using cans or bottles.  You can read more about them at the following link:

http://earthship.com/

One of the really amazing things about the Earthships are how individually beautiful they can be.  The builders are often very creative in their use of materials, particularly in how they use bottles.  In the honeycombed walls you can use the bottles to allow for light penetration and they are often spectacular, check out the one below:

Earthship Bottle Wall

 

The image comes from another site about Earthships and can be found at:

http://www.rodale.com/earthship-homes?page=0%2C1

So at the end of the day what the Earthship concept really shows is that sustainability doesn’t have to be some wacky hippie concept, but that sustainable ideals can be both functional and economically efficient, a great example for us in any activity.

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