part of the increasing desire to simplify one’s life and live more
there are various trends which have been emerging over recent years. Eco
designed housing which provided better insulation, passive solar design,
and the use of renewables was all the rage back in the late 90’s and early
2000’s. Now things have really ramped up with some cool, practical, and
inexpensive methods of building, demonstrating you don’t need to have loads of
cash to afford something practical, sustainable, and liveable. People are
turning to a whole range of alternative housing options such as container
pallets, straw bale, earth berm, earth bag, recycled materials, and used car
tires as building materials. Here are alternative buildings which will
no doubt change the way people live…
– Resilient, Self-Sufficient, Functional, and Beautiful
Reynolds of ‘Earthship Biotecture,’ based in Taos in the U.S., has developed a
model of building over the last forty years which encompasses passive solar
design. His houses are made of both natural and recycled materials (such as
earth-filled tires). His Earthships are designed to function as autonomous
buildings using a combination of thermal mass construction and natural cross
ventilation, assisted by thermal draught (Stack effect), to regulate indoor temperature.
Earthships are generally considered to be off-the-grid homes, minimizing their
reliance on both public utilities and fossil fuels.
Earthships use materials which are available to the common person.
The concept of embodied-energy is taken seriously by those who build
Earthships. Embodied energy is essentially the energy consumed by all of
the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and
processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport, and product
delivery. Using already existing materials means that there is
significantly less energy required in building a structure. Accordingly,
one of the major structural building components of the Earthship is
recycled automobile tires. These are filled with compacted earth to form a
rammed earth brick encased in steel belted rubber. This brick and the resulting
bearing walls it forms is virtually indestructible. Aluminium cans, bottles,
glass, and plastic bottles are also used to create brick like components which
also act as aesthetic features throughout building designs. These bricks create
a cement like matrix that is very strong and very easy to build. Bottles can
create beautiful colored walls that light shines through. (1)
Homes – Minimalist, Economical, and Environmentally Friendly
living free from rent, mortgage, and utility bills. Imagine living in a
home that generated its own electricity and captured its own water. Imagine you
could build this home yourself for a very affordable price. Now imagine how
your life would be different if you were free from debt. We live in a rapidly
changing world, as economic and environmental forces continuously beg us to
reevaluate our way of living on the earth. The Tiny House Movement is a
sweeping phenomenon in the United States, largely as a result of the recent
economic troubles, which have caused many to lose their homes. (2)
the trend over the last decade has been for larger homes, the tiny house
movement is becoming popular among those wishing to be more sustainable and
wanting to live simpler, less consumerist lifestyles. The small house movement
is about reducing the overall size of dwellings to less than 1,000 square feet,
or approximately 93 square metres. Tiny Homes are about living simply and
beautifully, yet still with everything you need. It’s about freedom from debt
and having the economic autonomy to live a bigger life, instead of having a
still a relatively small sector, the tiny house market is set to see more
interest over the coming decades. As housing affordability deteriorates along
with economic conditions, more young people will seek alternative ways of
living. Tiny homes can cost the same price as a new car, ranging between
$20,000 to $50,000. With many Americans spending one-third to more than half of
their income on housing, living small offers greater freedom to the alternative
of being tied to a mortgage for thirty to forty years.
bag construction is relatively inexpensive compared to the traditional brick
and mortar building
most of us have become accustomed to. It is a natural building technique which
can be done quickly with mostly local materials. The technique
requires basic construction materials, such as inorganic material
usually available on site. Moist subsoil which contains an element of
clay, enabling adhesion when tamped, is mixed with either gravel, crushed
rock, or volcanic materials. The walls can be curved or straight and domed with
earth or topped with conventional roofs. Polypropylene bags are
filled with soil or insulation which are then tamped flat. Barbed wire is
layered between bags to prevent slipping as well as adding
to tensile strength. The final plastered walls look just like adobe
Check out this cool
time lapse video of an earthbag construction being built.
a new net-zero, off-grid capable home on the market, and this beauty is
a pre-fabricated house that pops up in just 3 days -they are also designed to
stand the test of time, lasting for centuries. Now, doesn’t this just make a
whole lot more sense?
1620 square foot, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home is a great example of how we can
use sustainable forms of energy to suit our every need and modern lifestyle. It
is built to LEED v4 Platinum and net zero energy standards and also
impressively is outfitted with the largest selection of Cradle to Cradle
certified building products ever used in a residential project. Cradle to
Cradle is a name given to products that have a regenerative design, modelling
human industry on nature’s processes, viewing materials as nutrients
circulating in a healthy and safe metabolism.
Behind This Amazing Invention?
lovely abode was constructed by a company called Unity Homes in collaboration
with BUILDER magazine and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
The home was fully constructed at Unity’s Factory based out of New Hampshire
over the course of just five short weeks. It was then assembled on the floor of
the expo in only three days! The house is based off of Unity’s Zum model and is
comprised by a system of pods and panels that include: sheathing, wiring,
insulation, and finishes. Part of the goal of Unity’s home design is to make
sustainable homes more affordable and it is, currently at around $150 per
square foot, with that price expected to drop.
A Time Lapse Of Unity Home Being Put Together
can totally change the equation of homebuilding,” said Unity Homes Founder Tedd Benson.
“We can build homes that are fossil-fuel free and affordable. We can build
homes in 30 days that are around for 300 years…and we can do it in a way that’s
stress-free…for all of us.”
how accessible these alternative options for houses are, hopefully over the
next couple of decades we will be seeing a lot more of this! Imagine not having
to even worry about renovations or a power bill for that matter… these homes
are truly worth it, for the obvious economical reasons and certainly for the
environment as well. If you are interested in learning more about off-grid
capable, tiny homes or Earthships,
check out the clickable links! Many people believe that we have to take a step
backward with technology, but if we are able to use it to our advantage and
without leaving an environmental footprint behind, why would we? The future is
To create a
solid – yet breathable
– wall system, hemp hurds were mixed with lime and water on-site an poured
in-between the exterior supporting studs in lift.
Today notes, Hempcrete is actually less like concrete and more like infill
straw bale, as it is non-structural. The insulating quality is r-2.5 per inch,
and it has the unique
ability to capture airborne pollutants over time – absorbing carbon when it is
grown and in place.
the material’s high thermal
mass helps keep a steady interior temperature, rather than allowing it to fluctuate.
walls of this gorgeous, eco-friendly
house are made from Purepanel,
a unique product made from recycled
paper. It consists of a rigid skin with a corrugated paper core, similar to
the house also features 30 salvaged window frames that have been fitted with
high tech glass. They were placed to allow the most daylighting without overheating
the space. An open floor plans also allows the light to pervade deep into the
wall system is coupled with a super efficient 21 SEER air-based heat pump to
effectively heat and cool the home, reducing utility costs and also the need
for expensive equipment. With these installments,
this home ends up costing a respectable $133 per square foot to
compromises were made, such as introducing petroleum-based
foam products into the ceiling and foundation. However, the house is a stellar
example of how health, energy and design can co-exist in sync.
is looking forward to constructing similar, smaller homes in the future once he
gets through the learning curve of using Hemcrete.
Admirably, he says from here on out he will only build houses
safe enough for his daughter to live in; we applaud that.
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