Eco Travel Idea: Rent an Earthship

CC Flickr photo courtesy of marvins_dad

Experience the ultimate in eco friendly winter vacations and enjoy a stay at an Earthship in Taos, New Mexico. An Earthship is above and beyond the typical environmentally sustainable built home and the ultimate in energy-efficient and eco-friendly design.

These 100 percent sustainably built structures include off-grid power, geothermal heating and cooling, rainwater collection systems and on-site natural waste water treatment facilities, creating the ultimate eco-friendly winter home vacation.

Originally designed in 1972 by architect Mike Reynolds, the Earthship Biotecture design incorporates six basic elements that sets the Earthship apart from any conventionally built “green” home on the market today. Because Earthships use naturally occurring resources like sunlight and geothermal mass, they make the perfect getaway for wintertime fun without using any fossil fuels to heat the structure during winter.

Renting an Earthship for your perfect winter vacation is as easy as making an online reservation.

One of three rentals at Earthship Biotecture, the “Phoenix” Earthship is a three bedroom, two bathroom gorgeous Earthship rental, complete with an indoor waterfall and jungle that is simply breathtaking.

But don’t bother looking for a thermostat to adjust the heat—there isn’t one! This Earthship is naturally heated and cooled with geothermal energy, so you’ll be snug and toasty without burning any polluting fossil fuels to heat the home. Rental fees for this eco-vacation home start at $120 a night.

The Corner Cottage is another Earthship that rents for $160 a night and includes a two bedroom, one bath design with a huge double atrium overlooking the scenic Taos Valley This gorgeous rental provides stunning examples of the recycled materials used to create the Earthship. Colored wine bottles and old appliance metal create a clever and attractive way to recycle waste materials into building materials.

A smaller but more eclectic and colorful Earthship—aptly named the “Studio”—rents for $135 a night and is the perfect place for a couple to get away from it all. Or not. All three Earthships for rent are located in the Taos Ski Valley, home to some of the best skiing resorts in the nation.

After staying in an Earthship, you may find your interests exceed the vacation and you find you’re in the market to buy an eco-friendly home. Buying an Earthship isn’t difficult; in fact many different models are for sale around the United States.

Whether you occupy and Earthship one night or every night, it helps all of us on this fragile planet conserve the resources we have now and ones for future generations to come.

Ever stayed in an Earthship or lived in one? Leave a comment and tell us what you thought!

Eric Brennan is a second generation master carpenter with over 20 years of construction industry experience. Since 2005, Eric has also been a hard at work honing his skills as a home improvement writer. In 2009, he was given the Associated Content award for best home improvement writer. Eric is currently a featured green and home improvement writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and editor of Construct101. He has produced thousands of articles on everything construction, remodeling, interior decorating, green building, and many other home improvement related fields for countless websites and blogs including the DIY network, P&G Tide, DeWalt.com, AT&T, Huffington Post, and Yahoo! News.

Earthship Videos: A Roundup of the Best

Earthships are the ultimate in sustainably built homes that consume zero-energy and zero resources. They can be built in any climate, in any area of the world and all using sustainable building methods that cost as much as a conventionally built home. Besides saving money with utility-free living, they also save the planet from the unsustainably built, energy hogging homes of most average Americans live in. If you’re interested in changing the way you live, then take a look at these six life changing videos about Earthships.

The Green Home Source Visits Earthship Biotecture

If you’re unfamiliar with what Earthship constructions all about, then this video will bring you up to speed. The walk through of an Earthship built by the architect Mike Reynolds, who coined the term “Earthship”, was done by the Green Home Source at Taos, New Mexico in a beautifully built Earthship. The host explains the four pillars of a green building program and how an Earthship is better by being “Deep Green”.

Texas Earthship Tour: Finishing Touches

This Earthship video gets into more detail about the finishing stages of assembly and the engineering solutions that make an Earthship so energy efficient. Several workers explain how the roof assembly functions triple duty as a water barrier, a water collector and as a geothermal ventilation opening. The tour continues on as busy workers install flagstones, build wine bottle walls and assemble greywater equipment, showing you the finer details that go into building an Earthship.

Fishing in the Phoenix Earthship

Another cool video that shows you how an Earthship goes further than any eco-friendly home in the world with its unique water treatment facility. This Earthship actually feeds you as the young man in the video demonstrates. Upon catching a fish from the indoor water reclamation pond, they clean it and cook it along with a handful of edible herbs and fruits from the indoor garden.

Earthship Biotecture: The Hut

A great in depth explanation by architect Mike Reynolds that sets the tone when he utters the phrase “A beaver and wasp can build their own homes, but we can’t and there is something wrong with that”. As Reynolds goes into the true meaning about his Earthship vision, a couple builds the smallest of Earthships, the basic hut. Complete instructions are given during this extra long 20+ minute video.

Our Mini Earthship

Skip across the pond to jolly England when this young crew builds a mini Earthship. Building this smaller version of an Earthship would be a great way to get acquainted with Earthship construction before building the real deal. This crew quickly builds a small Earthship, showing you how easy it is to build your own Earthship, anywhere in the world.

“Earthships New Solutions” Official Trailer

This video is the official trailer for the movie “Earthships New Solutions” and shows a glimpse of what it takes for the crew from Earthship Biotecture to complete one of the most eco-friendly structures on the planet. This documentary is bound to inspire change in the building industry about the construction of Earthships.

These are our favorites. Did we miss any good videos? Leave a comment and let us know.

Eric Brennan is a second generation master carpenter with over 20 years of construction industry experience. Since 2005, Eric has also been a hard at work honing his skills as a home improvement writer. In 2009, he was given the Associated Content award for best home improvement writer. Eric is currently a featured green and home improvement writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and editor of Construct101. He has produced thousands of articles on everything construction, remodeling, interior decorating, green building, and many other home improvement related fields for countless websites and blogs including the DIY network, P&G Tide, DeWalt.com, AT&T, Huffington Post, and Yahoo! News.

Earth Ship Homes: Why So Few?

Flickr CC photo, courtesy of dave-friedel

According to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change, our home energy consumption needs contribute to one fifth of the United States’ annual electrical output. That’s a lot of power. But what’s even worse is our electrical bills can easily eat up $1,500 a year or more of our hard earned money — and a good percentage of that energy is lost through our homes energy-inefficiency.

While replacing your light bulbs with CFLs and insulating the old crawlspace are all good environmental practices, they are really a drop in the bucket compared to where our energy consumption rates should be. Even with today’s awareness about global warming and energy conservation, the average American’s energy consumption rates have barely decreased in the last few years.

The time to change our building industry has arrived, and we can do it by creating zero-energy, zero-environmental impact homes. An Earthship Biotecture is the perfect way to achieve a zero-energy home and still afford yourself the comforts you would expect with a conventionally built home. In fact, some Earthship homes may be more comfortable than the home you’re in now!

Best of all, Earthships can be affordable. With so many green home improvement tax credits available from Uncle Sam, your new Earthship home may be right around the corner come this April.

But you may be asking yourself, if the offer is so good, then how come nobody else is building Earthships? That’s one of the most asked questions about Earthship construction. The reason not everyone else is doing it is simple red tape. Because of local, state and national building codes and lack of knowledge about Earthship construction methods, permits are commonly denied. Throw in the fact that local deed restrictions may not permit Earthship-type structures in the neighborhood, and you can begin to see how difficult it may become to acquire permitting and permission from governing officials.

The other big hurdle when building your own Earthship is money. If you don’t have the financing for building your own Earthship, then a bank may not lend you the money. When loan officers factor in the combination of a low resale value and a low appraisal, most won’t think the loans will be viable and will quickly deny you the money.

But if you’re still keen on the idea of an Earthship and those minor hurdles are out of your way and of no concern to you, then building an Earthship can be easily done. If you’re a DIY expert and you’re ready to undertake the ultimate home improvement project, then you can start breaking ground right away. But first you need to learn about Earthship construction, and that’s easy. If you’re all about going to the source, then the original architect who coined the phrase Earthship Biotecture, Mike Reynolds is the man for you. With personal consultations and advice offered for a fee, they can help you and your Earthship get started in the right direction.

You can also find more information about other Earthship builders at U.S. Green Building Councils Green Home Guide if you’re looking for professional advice from across the country or need someone to build your new Earthship in your backyard. Whether you build your own Earthship or have a builder do it for you, the investment you make now will go a long way towards saving our planet in the years to come.

Eric Brennan is a second generation master carpenter with over 20 years of construction industry experience. Since 2005, Eric has also been a hard at work honing his skills as a home improvement writer. In 2009, he was given the Associated Content award for best home improvement writer. Eric is currently a featured green and home improvement writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and editor of Construct101. He has produced thousands of articles on everything construction, remodeling, interior decorating, green building, and many other home improvement related fields for countless websites and blogs including the DIY network, P&G Tide, DeWalt.com, AT&T, Huffington Post, and Yahoo! News.

Earthships 101, an introduction: Eco from the ground up

CC image courtesy of dominicspics on Flickr.

Looking for the ultimate in eco-friendly home design and construction? While buzzwords like net-zero energy construction and sustainable building practices may be new words to our culture, net-zero sustainable homes called Earthships have been around for over 40 years.

An “Earthship” may sound like a science fiction term, but the phrase Earthship Biotecture was coined in 1972 by a young radical architect named Mike Reynolds as he described his recently completed (and first) recycled materials home—The Thumb House. Starting from scratch where no architect had worked before, he perfected some of the early techniques for using recycled building materials including the 1973 patented aluminum can building block.

Today, Reynolds’s Earthship Biotecture has grown into a world wide phenomenon; and it’s easy to see why. Not only is an Earthship eco-friendly, they can be built anywhere, in any climate and are completely free from utility bills of any kind. Reynolds’s Earthship Biotecture design uses these six basic elements, grabbing the golden ring of eco-friendly and sustainable building—zero environmental impact.

The first of these design elements is the use of natural/recycled/local building materials. Some Earthship Biotecture uses a combination of waste materials like old tires and rammed earth from the building site to create a no-new materials substructure for the building.

PEW Center on Climate Change studies show that Americans use over ¼ of their electricity on lighting the home. The use of solar and wind energy to power the Earthship helps to create a zero-energy home. Lighting, electronics and other general appliances are powered using this second design element of Earthship Biotecture.

Heating and cooling our homes contributes to even more energy use—up to 55 percent of our electric bill. By orientating the Earthship in a southern-facing direction for solar gain and digging down into the earth for geothermal gain, the Earthship maintains a constant temperature around 68-70 degrees year-round.

Where Earthship Biotecture excels beyond basic green building techniques are through on-site food and water production and recycling waste water naturally. These three Earthship Biotecture design methods all provide the ultimate in net-zero energy and resource consumption, limiting your homes planetary impact forever.

Earthships can be designed to not only fit seamlessly into any environment, but also to suit any homeowners basic needs. From the simplest and cheapest of DIY constructed homes like Oscar and Lisa’s Earthship hut, to the ultimate million dollar Reynolds’s designed Earthship mansion like actor Dennis Weaver’s Earthship “Sunridge”, Earthships can be built to suit any homeowner’s level of comforts, styles and tastes—and budget. Whether you build a small hut or a huge mansion, one thing is for certain with an Earthship; it’s the ultimate in environmentally sustainable building.

But let’s get down to brass tacks. Earthship Biotecture sounds practical in theory, but what are the true costs? In monetary terms, material costs exceed conventional building by roughly 15 percent, as stated in Mike Reynolds’s 2008 interview with Forecast Earth. The initial expense is easily recouped in a few years time since all utility bills are eliminated. With the addition of water reclamation and on-site food production, an Earthship quickly pays for itself in savings.

But the real benefit of building an Earthship is how it helps reduce our consumption of resources and creates a consumption-neutral environment for us to live in. According to The Pew Center for Global Climate Change, Americans spend $15 billion each year on air-conditioning alone, accounting for 5 percent of our annual electric bill. That equates to 140 million tons of extra carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere annually—and that’s just for our air conditioners. With numbers like that, it’s easy to understand why Earthship Biotecture has become recognized as a legitimate, viable and necessary alternative building method to the wasteful practices of the conventionally built home.

Eric Brennan is a second generation master carpenter with over 20 years of construction industry experience. Since 2005, Eric has also been a hard at work honing his skills as a home improvement writer. In 2009, he was given the Associated Content award for best home improvement writer. Eric is currently a featured green and home improvement writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and editor of Construct101. He has produced thousands of articles on everything construction, remodeling, interior decorating, green building, and many other home improvement related fields for countless websites and blogs including the DIY network, P&G Tide, DeWalt.com, AT&T, Huffington Post, and Yahoo! News.