Earthships in Europe
Preserve of the free or home of the brave?
Ten years on from the construction of the first earthship in England, a new publication explores whether the innovative housing model is a legitimate prototype for zero carbon mass housing or if it is destined to remain an elite project for brave self-builders.
The earthship dream has been sold as a 'passport to freedom of utility bills' where homes use only bountiful and renewable resources flowing freely from nature to provide residents' energy and lifestyle requirements. An architectural concept pioneered in the New Mexico desert, the model is said to offer a holistic sustainable housing solution, but what are the practicalities of building and living in an earthship? Moreover, it is a practical option for the European market?
These are some of the concepts explored in EP102: Earthships in Europe published this month by IHS BRE press. The publication is an update to the original 2007 guide to earthships and takes a practical, objective look at how the concept has translated in a European setting. It contains an analysis of over two years of data taken at Earthship Brighton, England’s first earthship, providing an in-depth study of the performance and thermal monitoring of the model in a temperate climate for the first time.
Other topics covered include construction methods, building with waste products and implementing off-grid water, renewable energy and power systems. There are also a number of case studies featuring earthship projects in France and Spain, and the only known airtightness test carried out in an earthship. The analysis is used to form a series of design recommendations for making earthships more effective in different climatic conditions which could impact on their future in Europe.
EP102: Earthships in Europe is available from the BRE Bookshop.