paul wheaton wrote:Earth ships have been around at least 20 years. They have a lot of really fascinating ideas. I read the book a long time ago. I even remember reading something about an earthship being built and discovering a seasonal spring that would run through the house. Rather than trying to block it, they made it into an in-house feature!
Earth ships have a lot of really, really neat upsides. When you read the books or watch the youtube videos you can learn all about the upsides.
- internal walls with super duper thermal mass.
- amazing design and shape - a real good design for good solar use and having a lot of light in a home. In fact, the designs lead to more of a "home" than a "dwelling".
- I like the use to waste products although I would far prefer to use waste products that are obviously benign.
The downsides, which are much harder to find out about:
- It takes a long, long, long time to pack those tires with dirt. And it is bone jarring hard work. I have heard from some folks that said that if you pay for labor, the structure will be more expensive than a conventional home.
- Tire off gassing. When this is brought up, many people discount it. And many emphasize it. It is a confusing space and I suspect that the truth leans in the direction of the people concerned about the off gassing.
I agree about the offgassing. Both sides have points to consider. While it would be really awesome to pull something out of the waste stream, especially something that does not degrade or break down for such a long, long time, of course I don't want to use something that could be dangerous to myself or others at the same time. On that same note though, there are people who have build and lived in these homes for a few decades now and haven't reported any issues. So it is either a lack of an issue or a lack of reports.... I think the offgassing- is it or is it not an issue- is definitely something that I would like to see an experiment done on to prove one way or the other (hopefully, beyond a doubt). I'm not sure how or even what one would use to go about detecting tire offgassing...? I mean we have detectors for smoke, carbon monoxide and radon, etc. would it be crazy or even possible to make a detector for the potential offgassing?
From the earthship website, an excerpt from the New Mexico Evironmental Department. Worth a read, in my opinion.
I think another one of the downsides I've read an article about or watched a video on YouTube about is the moisture problem, especially in winter. I haven't seen the earthship site dealing with this issue or mentioning it. As someone who lives in a cold, wet climate (PA), this is a big deal to consider for me as the potential results from water, flood and ice damage, may very well render this concept less useful than hoped for.
While I love the concept of the earthship design and the systems, etc... I feel like the tire pounding labor involved alone would be beyond my ability to do start to finish on my own. I have seen many failed projects online that drive the point home to either have a plan in place and work on a single "U" at a time or arrange to have help, a lot of help, lol. Although in fairness, a number of the projects seem to have 'bitten off' more than they could chew all at once and then running out of money, rather than working in stages and leaving themselves wiggle room physically and financially.
I was curious if any of the folks involved with building them have tried out a climate battery system to possibly help with the moisture? In The Forest Garden Greenhouse, Jerome Osentowski's use of the climate battery and other more recent (the past couple years) projects people have been building with annualized geosolar, air to ground heat transfer, subterranean heating and cooling, earth tubes networks/matrices, what ever name you want to call it.... it seems to me to be an interesting technology. If applied to the earthship concept, I'm curious if it would resolve the moisture issue and/or even keep the thermal mass warmer or charged longer....?
At any rate, there are certainly less laborious building methods and many, many options.