Chapter Outline

Chapter 1 THE EARTHSHIP REALITY PROJECT addresses the Earthship ideal as it exists today, discussing the science behind the Earthships, as well as issues and resolutions of the design over the past 40 years.

Chapter 2 THE SCIENCE: ACADEMIC RESEARCH AND TIRE OFF-GASSING reviews some of the best academic and scientific research on Earthship design and performance, and then offers interpretations of what must be addressed to remedy the issues raised.

Chapter 3 A WAY FORWARD begins to lay out a path for those who want to utilize earth-sheltering and Earthship ideals as a basis of design for a truly sustainable home. In this chapter, we discuss designing a sustainable home, obtaining financing and insurance, tax credits, cost effective sustainable features, minimizing waste, managing the complexities of the build, visioning, and Code requirements.

Chapter 4 THE BUILDING’S CONTEXT AND SITE addresses design techniques for the site and landscape, and discusses methods for how to put both to work for you.

Chapter 5 DESIGNING FOR THERMAL COMFORT addresses natural, mechanical, and design options for improving thermal performance. Topics covered include passive solar design; using thermal mass versus insulation; using earth-coupling versus earth-sheltering; designing for thermal and moisture protection; and natural ventilation. We also touch on acoustics.

Chapters 6 through 8 are a three-part series on the basic building blocks of a building.

Chapter 6 THE STRUCTURAL SYSTEM specifically addresses the ways we can form the building’s structure.

Chapter 7 THE ENCLOSURE SYSTEM outlines methods for the construction of the building’s envelope or skin. We discuss traditional earthship building blocks like tire, glass, and can walls, as well as alternative systems like adobe, cob, rammed earth, earthbags, wood block concrete forms, timber frame, log, cordwood, and strawbale buildings. We also cover various roofing options as well as doors and windows in this chapter.

Chapter 8 ROOMS, SPACES, COLORS, & TEXTURES discusses the spaces within the building envelope and how we can decorate those spaces in order to create a home we love.

Chapter 9 MECHANICAL SYSTEMS outlines basic mechanical, electrical, and plumbing considerations for various systems, including and especially on-grid systems since those are what make an Earthship most affordable.

Chapter 10 IMBUING SPACE WITH SPIRIT is affectionately titled “The WooWoo Chapter.” This chapter addresses the psychological and spiritual aspects of design and covers a wide range of topics including psychology of space and color, locating power spots, astrologically-correct timing for cutting wood and other building tasks, and we even talk about Feng Shui and Vaastu. While my intellectual approach to design has always been rooted in the science of building, my heart resides in another place – one that is inhabited with a little bit of magic. While there may be overtones throughout the text, this chapter makes no attempt to reign in magical thinking. I hope that for those of you who are called to create spaces that are spiritually “more”, these tips are of benefit.

Chapter 11 CONCLUSION: A NEW SET OF EARTH-SHELTER BUILDING CRITERIA presents my conclusions about the kind of earth-sheltered home I want, after having gone through the process of asking myself the same questions you will as you design your home using this book. I am not offering a general conclusion that will work for you, because that is not possible for me to do. We will get into the reasons why a conclusion that works for me cannot work for you in the sections where we discuss how there can be no Global Model of design. I do hope that seeing the results of my investigation assists you in determining what works for you.

Chapter 12 OVERWHELMED? NEED HELP? discusses some helpful tips if you hire an architect or residential designer to help you design your space.

The APPENDICES offer lists of resources and worksheets designed to help you manifest a space you will love.

The opening photos of each chapter were selected with the intention of offering inspiration. For me, these photos represent the best of Earthships as well as earthen design… and abundance… which is what I wish for all of us.