Earthships offer a model for green housing of the future

Looking to build an eco-friendly dwelling? An “earthship” could be just the ticket, says Mike Reynolds. Inexpensive to construct and even less expensive to run, these houses are built into hillsides, utilizing passive solar design and the thermal properties of the earth to provide natural climate control. Constructed of little but earth, plaster, trash (used tires and discarded building materials), and large windows, the houses first evolved in the arid lands around Taos, N.M., but have now spread as far afield as Fife, U.K. Hallmarks of Reynolds’ earthship design are systems that capture and use rainwater, process sewage through plant beds, and generate electricity on site. So far, the designs are only found outside of urban centers, but Reynolds would like to see that change. “If we were to get into a place like Brighton [U.K.], I’d buy an east-west running city block, tear everything down, salvage all the materials and put up a bank of earthships … People would go apesh*t! Soon other city blocks would be coming down.”