How to build a totally self-sufficient house

Filed in: Natural Home.

More than four decades ago, a lone architect had what must have seemed at that moment like an impossible dream: to build a new type of residence that was in complete harmony with the planet. This house would be made with recycled and sustainable materials. It would be based on clean energy and renewable resources to supply its inhabitants with the most basic and essential needs. It would be designed to be affordable and use construction techniques so simple that no one I could build it.

This vision was the beginning of what is now known as the Land – A remarkable feat of sustainable living. The environmental, economic and ethical reasons to live in an Earthship, or any self-sufficient home, are plentiful. Whether you are opening land in a new home or would like to incorporate these concepts into your existing home, read on to learn the principles of the self-sustaining home.

Four walls and a roof

Although the size of the average American family has been reduced from 3.3 people per household in 1960 to 2.54 in 2014, demand for bigger houses keep growing. Between 1973 and 2013, the average size of new single-family homes increased by 55% from 1,525 to 2,384 square feet. Traditional construction practices have a tremendous impact on the natural environment, and the larger the home, the more resources and energy are required to build and maintain. Building materials are a source of indoor air pollutants, which can be two to five times higher than outdoor pollution. And, of course, it costs more money to feed, heat and cool such a large space.

To eliminate the environmental impacts of construction (it takes approximately ¾ of an acre of forest to build a conventional home), building materials must be recycled, recovered, locally available, renewable, durable and, above all, have a footprint of negative carbon. The Earthship primary construction materials Scrap tires, aluminum cans and glass bottles are wrapped in tamped earth, an old method that creates strong, non-combustible walls. This allows the structure to achieve thermal mass, which efficiently maintains the home Warm in winter and cool in summer. without the need for separate heating and cooling systems.

How to build a self-sustaining houseThe idea of ​​recovering materials that would otherwise have languished in a sanitary landfill is ingenious, but there are other options available when building a green house. Loans from prehistoric, modern times. cob houses They are made with earth and straw, are not expensive to build and are resistant to fire and earthquakes. Another is the hemp house, built with Hempcrete – a mixture of industrial hemp, lime and water. Roofs of vegetation, or green roofs, reduces heat loss and stormwater runoff while cleaning the air. And although this waste house It was built with 85% trash, such as DVD covers and toothbrushes, you can also get recycled materials from deconstructed buildings in markets such as PlanetReuse.

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Last year, the United States consumed more than four billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, 67% of which were derived from fossil fuels. Moving beyond coal and natural gas to renewable and clean energy sources is increasingly accessible, as technological innovations and falling prices continue to make small-scale, off-grid configurations practical and affordable. `

How to build a self-sustaining houseSolar energy, wind energy, or a hybrid of the two All options are viable, depending on the orientation of the site and the location. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems work more efficiently in the southwestern states, but the inhabitants of almost any region can benefit from a solar matrix, provided that the site receives direct sunlight. Wind maps It can also help predict the average annual wind speed in your geographic location. exist many factors to consider Before deciding on a renewable energy system, but once configured, it will reliably supply your home with clean electricity (and free!).

Water and waste management

According to the Report of the United Nations on world water developmentIf the world water demand remains at current levels, we would face a deficit of 40% in only 15 years. Even more grim, the shortage of water in the United States is anticipated for 40 of the 50 states within the next 10 years. Unless there is a radical change in the way we use and treat this precious resource, the shortage of water will soon become a reality.

How to build a self-sustaining houseRainwater harvesting offers an independent solution to regional water scarcity by collecting rainfall, including snow, on a catchment surface, such as a roof. From there, the water is fed by gravity to a cistern, then it is channeled to a pumping system (for water pressure) and filtered (for potability). Solar water heaters can be installed to meet most, if not all, of your hot water needs; It can also be used as a complement a water heater on request of natural gas or biodiesel on request.

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Now this is where things become really green: after drinking water is used for showering, washing, cleaning, etc., it is collected and recycled. three more times. This "gray water" usually consists of pieces of food, soap residue, cleaning products, dirt, grease and hair. The large particles are filtered before they are directed to the greenhouse (more on that later) where it provides irrigation and nutrients to the edible plants. The soil of the garden and the root systems of the plants naturally clean and filter the gray water, and once this is achieved, the water is collected again to supply transparent water without odors to the toilets. Finally, the flushing water from the toilets, called "black water", is contained and treated in a solar septic tank. The black water can be channeled to a drainage field or used for outdoor irrigation for inedible plants. You can find a visual representation of this wonderful configuration. here.


How to build a self-sustaining houseThe final touch of Earthship is the ability to grow your own organic food throughout the year. Since Earthship is a passive solar design, south-facing windows are necessary to absorb the sun's heat. This glass wall makes the perfect place for fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowering plants, with a growing area large enough to feed a small family. The gray water of the home, which is rich in nitrogen and completely safe for the plants that carry food, is automatically pumped into the inner garden, which means considerably less daily maintenance. When using gray water for irrigation, it is best to clean with products that are Natural, biodegradable and non-toxic..

Do you want to explore more about organic gardening and grow your own food? Visit our "Gardening"Section and see what we have to offer. Some personal favorites include:

10 incredible uses for Epsom salt in the garden Top 12 must have herbs to grow in your kitchen garden 6 reasons why you should start using egg shells in your garden

Reference:, by Lindsay Sheehan

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