Ecological House – How to Build with Materials that Society Throws Away

Ecological house or Earthship House models are passive, bioclimatic, and self-sustaining designs. An architecture that promotes the reuse of waste materials and energy independence.

Nowadays, many people are attracted by the idea of ​​building an ecological, healthy, and low-cost house. Such houses are found in New City.

However, there is a myth that building a greenhouse is expensive and that expensive and sophisticated materials are needed.

Nothing is further from reality!!!

Types of Ecological Houses

And while it is true that certain types of ecological houses use expensive materials, there are other options (there always are) that go the opposite way.

Today I want to present to you a model of houses that was developed by improving Architect Michael Raynolds in 1978.

This model of Ecological Houses has been called Earthship, which literally means: Earth Ship.

Raynolds has been building their houses for more than 30 years in different parts of the world, with different climates and cultures.

Reynolds is the founder of the  Earthship Biotecture initiative, an organization dedicated to fostering and promoting the development of the Earthships model of homes throughout the world.

The Principles of Earthship Green Homes/ Ecological House

The principles that guide the design of Earthships ecological houses are simple and functional.

Their purpose is to generate a healthy, sustainable house with a decentralized energy supply system.

There are 4 principles that guide this type of design:

  • The orientation of the House
  • Use waste materials
  • Use of Renewable energy
  • Installation of Rainwater Harvesting and Wastewater Treatment Systems

1. The Orientation of the House

The basic principle of Passive Design. It is about orienting the openings of the house (especially windows) towards the direction of the solar path.

A principle that should guide every design of a house. 

Large windows are built in this direction, and a greenhouse (in the form of a longitudinal corridor) is generated between the exterior and the rooms of the house.

Ecological House - Orientation
Ecological House – Orientation

This greenhouse corridor is a great collector of solar energy where the temperature of the house is manually regulated.

It also serves as an interior garden where to grow food for self-consumption and build filters for the gray water of the house.

2.  Use Waste Materials

Earthship eco-homes use car tires, glass bottles, and cans in their construction.

Car tires are used to build the foundations and retaining walls of the house.

Bottles and cans are used as part of the walls. Dense and wide walls are usually built of earth or adobe, thus achieving great energy efficiency.

Ecological  house : Use of waste materials
Ecological house: Use of waste materials

The use of bottles works as skylights, allowing light to enter and generating a very particular aesthetic that many people like more and more.

3.  Use of Renewable Energies

One of the characteristics of the Earthships Houses is their independence from supply networks, which makes it possible to build them anywhere.

Renewable Energy - Use of solar panels
Renewable Energy – Use of solar panels

To generate energy for domestic consumption, the energy of the sun and the wind is used. Solar panels and Aeolic blades. Two sources of permanent and renewable energy.

4.  Installation of Rainwater Harvesting and Wastewater Treatment Systems

The water supply is achieved through the collection of rainwater, which is collected in a tank for this purpose.

Then through some filters, this drinking water is made, being used for all the uses of the house.

Gray water is separated from black water (toilet). Gray water is treated in a gray water filter in the “greenhouse” part.

Rainwater Harvesting and Wastewater Treatment Systems
Rainwater Harvesting and Wastewater Treatment Systems

The water from the toilet goes to a septic tank, to be later purified in a biological filter.

The following diagram shows how the water in the house is collected and treated.

Construction Stages of an Earthship Ecological House

The construction system of an Earthship Ecological House is simple and is designed to be built in a collaborative and community way.

It is very labour intensive, and the first stage is physically hard work.

Let us look into the stages of construction.

1. It begins by building a perimeter wall (in the form of a «C») of used car tires

This wall covers the three orientations except that of the solar path. North for the Southern hemisphere and South for the Northern hemisphere.

Once the wall is finished, a perimeter beam is placed on the wall, and some “screen wall” type pillars reinforce the perimeter wall of used tires.

On the opposite side of the solar path are the rainwater collection tanks and the tubes that manually regulate the interior temperature of the house (ventilation).

2. Then, you start with the wooden structure. The roof structure and the entire roof are built. Also, the part that looks towards the solar path where doors and windows are located

3. Also, with a wooden structure, the part of the greenhouse is built in the same direction as the solar path

4. Solar panel installations are made

5. Interior work begins: interior floor and walls

Earthship ecological house models do not walk with half questions.

It is a 100% self-sustaining design, uses waste materials, and promotes energy independence.

It is a radical design that is committed to a relationship with an environment of respect and harmony.

If you really dare to have a design like this, the best advice is to get to know the Earthship Biotecture website in depth

It will probably be very difficult for you to find a construction company that knows and knows how to build an Earthship house.

Therefore you will have to train and seek help from people who know and work promoting this type of construction. For more ideas, visit

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