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EARTHSHIP & WATER, WASTE AND ENERGY SYSTEMS THE GREATER WORLD EARTHSHIP COMMUNITY ERIK LAWRENCE, TOMMY WHITE & JESSE FIGGINS ARCH 584 STUDIO, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON - PORTLAND CENTER, SPRING 2006 - PROFESSOR NANCY CHENG A CASE STUDY COMPILED BY SUSTAINABLE/ ECOLOGICAL DESIGN EARTHSHIPS ARE SELF-SUSTAINING DWELLING UNITS Earthships are completely independent, globally oriented dwelling units made from units that are indigenous to the whole planet. They are designed to reduce our impact on the planet and increase our connection to it in doing so, earthship architecture strives to constantly make small, believable steps toward slowing down and ultimately reversing the negative impact of human development. Earthship Biotecture empowers people to make positive changes in their own lives and reduce their personal effects on global warming. EARTHSHIP ONE 2 Bedroom/ Bath 1700 SF Solar/ Wind Power EARTHSHIP TWO 1800 SF Ready to finish shell EARTHSHIP CHARACTERISTICS Built with natural and recycled materials. Solar/ Wind/ Electricity (Thermal heating and cooling). Food production Water harvesting/ Contained sewage treatment. CHARACTERISTICS SPECIFIC TO GREATER WORLD EARTHSHIP COMMUNITY Manufacturing own bio-desiel fuel. Commonly owned community land. Minimal automobile impact. Slow growth- 20 year plan. EARTHSHIP TWO 2 Bedroom/ Bath Double Greenhouse Construction Interior growing areas Fully off-grid systems GREATER WORLD EARTHSHIP COMMUNITY A sustainable community which contributes to its surroundings in the world at large and is constantly reinforcing the strength of its own existence. Since most earthships are singular in their focus or sustainability, this community is of particular interest due to the fact that it is a conglomeration cohousing philosophy. BACKGROUND Location: Taos, New Mexico Size: 634 Acres Become a legal subdivision in 1998 First and only approved utility- free subdivision in the developed world (completely off-grid) A gravel pit reclamation project in which a water catch-and-reuse system combines with permaculture techniques to trap and direct surface water runoff in order to demonstrate how to rejuvenate/ reclaim a formerly worthless piece of discarded land. PHASE ONE (Gravel-Pit Reclamation) Housing Recreation Area - Ampitheater - Sport Park - Basketball Court Recycling/ Transfer Stations One major through roads and several smaller arteries. Hiking and Horseback riding trails (throughout). SITE 634 acres, 347 acres common, natural park land 130 total home sites79 Standard home sites (5 acres mean) 42 Affordable home sites (3 acres mean) 9 Home/ light commercial sites 4 Phases of development to occur over 20 year span. PHASE TWO, THREE and FOUR TO COME (Proposed) Public Education Facility Sustainable Living Institute SITE PLAN SOCIAL/ ECONOMIC/ ENVIRONMETAL FACTORS The greater worlds objective is to reduce the economic and institutional barriers between people and sustainable housing while reversing the negative effect conventional housing has on the planet. Its goal is to interface economics and ecology in a way that immediately/ tangibly affects current pressing problems with existing lifestyles. ECONOMIC FACTORS Provision of custom high end and affordable housing. Light commerical area to promote and encourage cottage industries and office/ studio space to accomidate future growth. No public funding- actual community employment created from region catering to Greater World. ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP International Institute for sustainable living with public education facility planned for direction of these interested. Research will be avalable international through: - Schools, seminars, tours, web-site and nightly earthsip rentals - earthships will be explored in a fashion that brings them architectural/ social economic legitimacy. SOCIAL FACTORS Land administrated by lboard of directors elected by community at large. Privately owned land/ publically owned community land provide sense of community while preserving personal identity. Attainable living through provision of: - Different size lots - Various densities - Owner participation - Elimination of utilities - Growing own food - Recycling - Eliminating unnecessary infrastructure. ARCHITECTURAL INSPIRATION ADAPTABLE- not singlar in application EARTHSHIP SYSTEMS Most earthship systems provide for two levels of compliance with resource and money saving strategies. Some system strategies are essentially free after initial capital costs, but may require significant changes in lifestyle to be effective. Michael Reynolds, inventor of Earthships, calls this the fanatic strategy. Other strategies take a somewhat more relaxed approach to sustainability. These tend to be more consistent with the ways Americans are accustomed to living, but employ methods that reduce utility costs and help promote living in a more environmentally responsible way. DOMESTIC WATER SYSTEMS - COLLECTION AND DISTRIBUTION EARTHSHIP WATER & WASTE SYSTEMS Earthship water systems are a reaction to the paradigm of what most American have come to expect: an endless water supply. Any analysis of sustainable water collection and distribution systems must therefore also address current use patterns and how these can be made more conservative. If the human occupants of a dwelling used less water, less water would need to be harvested or collected in order to meet new standard requirements. In addition, the conventional well system used in most American homes has been re-evaluated by proponents of the Earthship. Each of the three alternatives discussed below use far less electricity than a typical water distribution system, especially in the pump startup phase where electrical surges can be caused in a standard home. Indoor Water Storage Cistern Ground Water Silt Catch ALTERNATIVE 1 - SOLAR WELL AND CISTERN THE STANDARD OFF-GRID SYSTEM Like conventional well, water is pumped up from the water table but, in this case, is pumped continuously and slowly all day by a small solar powered pump. The pump only operates during daylight hours, therefore limiting electrical surge to only once per day. Pump connects directly to solar cells instead of through a larger pwer system, alleviating the need for storage batteries for the pumps electricity. Small pump trickles water into cistern. Water then pumped from cistern into conventional pressure tank by a second small pump. Both pumps are DC and use far less energy than AC pump Ground Water Gravel and Rock Catch Outdoor Water Storage Cistern ALTERNATIVE 2 - GRAVITY CISTERNS Like a solar well and cistern system but one of the pumps and the pressure tank are eliminated (free natural energy from downhill motion/pressure) Can be used with a cistern or a reservoir (see water catchment) ALTERNATIVE 3 - WATER CATCHES Includes both ground and roof catches - eliminates the need for a well and pump Ground catches (outdoor) need silt catches to trap dirt and marjor particles from water. Small dam blocks runoff and lets the water overflow into the cistern after particles have -psettled to the bottom of the silt catch. Can also use rock in decreasing sizes to filter out various scales of particles Outdoor cistern will always get some debris on top and silt on the bottom. A floating intake keeps the intake pipe away from these hazards. Should be placed on the south facing slope in cold climates to catch snow melt. This allows snow to melt and be harvested before it evaporates. Can have a structure built over it to create a humid growing space while protecting the water from freezing in the winter. Solar Well and Underground Cistern Roof Water Catch System Standard Gravity Cistern with Solar Pump Roof Water Storage Tanks Roof Water Storage Tank Inlet WASTE WATER SYSTEMS - GRAY AND BLACK WATER PROCESSING EARTHSHIP WATER & WASTE SYSTEMS Existing homes have two types of waste water - gray and black. Black water is from the toilets and needs treatment of some kind before it can be delivered back to the earth. Gray water is from sinks, tubs, showers, washing machines, etc. and can be returned directly to the earth if care is taken to use reasonably environmentally safe soaps and detergents. Care must also be taken to put nothing but water down the drain. Earthships recycle water and re-use it four times 1. Daily uses (except toilets) 2. Interior plants 3. Toilets 4. Exterior plants ALTERNATIVE 1 - COMPLETELY ELIMINATE BLACK WATER Many earthships eliminate black water all together by using composting Toilets or solar toilets. Technology of these toilets has gotten to the Point where they no longer smell or produce undesirable effects. Composting toilets require daily addition of peat moss but eventually Produce a fertilizer that can be returned directly to the earth. Solar toilets produce ash which is also used as a fertilizer. Composting Toilet Models: Self-Contained Composting Unit Remote Unit Hatch For Admitting Sunlight Into Solar Toilet Solar Toilet Turns Solid Waste Into Fertilizer Ash ALTERNATIVE 2 SEPARATION OF BLACK AND GRAY WATER GRAY WATER STRATEGIES Each source of gray water is separated so there is no large quantity of gray water in any one place Kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, showers and tubs, washing machines and dishwashers can all be drained into large planting beds This re-uses the water and organic soaps and detergents can be ok for plants Kitchen and bathroom sinks can have planters directly adjacent to the drains, eliminating excessive piping. Because of the large volumes of water that shower, tubs and washing machines produce, these are drained to larger planters outside the dwelling. BLACK WATER STRATEGIES If a composting or solar toilet cannot be used, modified traditional septic thanks are fthe best alternative Solid an liquid waste (and water) drain into a septic tank which at a certain capactiy enters a drainfield and goes back into the earth Storage of the black water in the tank for a period of time allows all the solids and paper to become sludge and begin an anaerobic process with natural bacteria For Earthships, the reduced amount of water used in the creation of black water allows for smaller septic tanks. Because septic size is typically determined by code, inventor and patent holder Michael Reynolds suggests several outlaw septics Two main outlaws are the aluminum can and tamped earth/tire septics Earthship Water Lifecycle Diagram Gray Water Planting Bed Planting Bed Detail Showing Sink Outlet Outlaw Cistern 1 - Aluminum Can Septic Aluminum Can Septic Photo Tamped Earth and Tire Septic HOT WATER SYSTEMS - INEXPENSIVE HOT WATER DAY OR NIGHT EARTHSHIP WATER & WASTE SYSTEMS Production of inexpensive hot water of a consistent temperature presents perhaps the greatest challenge when building sustainably, especially in climates with low levels of sunlight or on cloudy days when solar hot water may not be a good option. Americans have become accustomed to always-on/instantly hot water systems and have been willing to sacrifice $40-$60 a month of electricity to have them. A typical 2 person dwelling, even with serious conservation measures in place, has need of about 800 gallons per month of non-potable water. Earthships primarily use two methods to heat water. The Solar Batch Heater becomes a good alternative for those who do choose to live in Americas Sun Belt, an area typically thought of as being in the Southwest and having sun 300+ days a year. For the rest of the country, the Gas Demand Heater takes the typical gas hot water heater one step further, adding the ability to control when water is being heated and when it is not, therefore conserving large amounts of electricity. Both units pay for themselves within a few years with utility cost decreases. ALTERNATIVE 1 - SOLAR BATCH HEATERS Simplest, low-tech and maintenance-free method of obtaining hot water anywhere near the sun-belt. This is not a good option anywhere else in the country unless a backup Gas Demand Heater is installed. Called Batch Heater because the unit is both the heater and the storage tank for a batch of hot water Very thin proportion to allow water to heat fast (maximum surface area exposed directly to the sun) Covered with tempered glass which forms a thin air cavity between the glass and the tank itself. This air heats up and in turn heats the tank Depends almost entirely on gravity flow for water pressure. Therefore pressure tends to be lower than that typically supplied in a modern home. Placed in one of two ways. Toward summer equinox provides maximum performance of the unit. Toward winter equinox makes more sense in cooler climates because you get better winter performance (when you need more hot water) and reduced performance in summer (when demand for hot water is lower) Since a batch of hot water may be limited in size, many units may be necessary to supply many fixtures Solar Heater Batch Schematic Diagram A Bank of Gas Demand Heaters In Action ALTERNATIVE 2 - INSTANT-ON GAS DEMAND HEATER Very small wall mounted unit - 18 wide, 13 deep, 36 high. Natural gas produces flame for heating water Located so that exhaust from the unit can be easily vented through the roof, and so that fresh air for combustion of gas can flow freely through the intakes Placed near fixtures they are servicing to minimize the time for hot water to get to the tap. This may, as with the Solar Batch Heater, result in a multitude of units being used throughout the house servicing various fixtures. Limitation: too small to service more than 1 fixture at a time (no washing dishes while showering) Heat water in a coil as it is called for. Only a pilot burns until you turn on the tap. The tap acts as a trigger for the unit, producing a burst of flame and passing water through the flame in a copper coil. The flame remains on, heating the water in the coil as long as the tap is left on. Mirrors Can Be Used To Assure Maximum Performance ALTERNATIVE 3 - COMBINATION OF SYSTEMS (PREFERRED) This is the best solution because it allows you to have free hot water from a batch heater when there is sun, but keeps you covered in case of clouds or bad weather. Gas Demand Heater Schematic Solar Shower with Integral Batch Water Heater THERMAL MASS and PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING EARTHSHIP COMFORT SYSTEMS The earth is a thermally stabilizing mass that receives energy from the sun. The outer few feet of the earth are heated and cooled in response to surface weather. Around 4-5 feet below the surface temperature is constant at about 58 degrees and this is where the earth can be used to both cool and stabilize temperature of the earthship. THE EARTHSHIP WILL PROVIDE COMFORT IN ANY CLIMATE THROUGH: A relationship of mass and insulation. interaction with the earth for coolness and to stable temperatures through thermal mass. Interact with the sun for solar gain though passive solar gain. Orientation of the structure must be east-west with south facing opening. Open floor plans for natural ventilation. EARTHSHIPS ARE THERMAL MASS FIRST AND PASSIVE SOLAR HOMES SECOND. When sunlight strikes a building, the buildings materials can reflect, transmit or absorb the solar radiation. The basic natural process that are used in passive solar energy that flows in accordance to radiation, conduction and natural convection. THERMAL MASS: Thermal mass materials have the ability to conduct and store energy, both hot and cold, and to release that energy back into the living space when its needed. Heat always moves to colder surfaces. In the solar home, the free solar energy first heats up the air. Since the mass floors and walls are cooler, the heat is absorbed and conducted into these materials. Later, when the sun has set and the room air temperature falls, it will reach a point where the mass materials are warmer than the room air temperature. Since heat seeks out cold, the stored energy will now return to the room. The more mass in the home, the more energy that can be stored. PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING EARTHSHIP COMFORT SYSTEMS PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING REQUIRES TWO PRIMARY ELEMENTS: South facing openings Thermal mass to absorb, store and distrubute heat There are three approaches to passive systems - direct gain, indirect gain, and isolated gain. The goal of all passive solar heating systems is to capture the suns heat within the buildings elements and release that heat during periods when the sun is not shining. At the same time that the buildings elements are absorbing heat for later use, solar heat is available for keeping the space comfortable. DIRECT GAIN: Radiant heat from the sun admitted directly to the thermal mass floors and walls of the living space through south-facing windows, warming interior surfaces. The thermal mass will temper the intensity of the heat during the day by absorbing the heat. At night, the thermal mass radiates heat into the living space. INDIRECT GAIN: An attached thermal mass is located between the sun and the living space. The thermal mass absorbs the sunlight that strikes it and transfers it to the living space by conduction. The thermal mass is located immediately behind south facing glass in this system. Operable vents at the top and bottom of a thermal storage wall permit heat to convect from between the wall and the glass into the living space. When the vents are closed at night radiant heat from the wall heats the living space. ISOLATED GAIN: An isolated gain system has its integral parts separate from the main living area of a house. The ability to isolate the system from the primary living areas is the point of distinction for this type of system. Sunrooms employ a combination of direct gain and indirect gain system features. Sunlight entering the sunroom is retained in the thermal mass and air of the room. Sunlight is brought into the house by means of conduction through a shared mass wall in the rear of the sunroom, or by vents that permit the air between the sunroom and living space to be exchanged by convection. NATURAL VENTILATION and ALTERNATE POWER SOURCES EARTHSHIP COMFORT SYSTEMS VENTILATION AND COOLING: Gravity skylights are an integral part of ventilation and cooling of the earthship. The controlled movement of air aligns with a natural tendency of warm air to rise. Gravity skylights therefore should be in the highest possible place to allow warm air to escape. Fresh air must be allowed to enter in the lowest place through operable windows or vents. This creates a natural exchange of air throughout the space. When outside conditions are too hot for comfort, inlets for incoming air can be submerged in the earth. This allows the temperature of the earth to cool the incoming air before it enters the structure. ALTERNATE POWER SOURCE: Earthships are not without the need for power to operate appliances, lighting and automatic watering systems. Since the concept is to be off grid, alternate sources of power are required. There are two sources of electricity, the sun and the wind. Most commonly used source is the sun due to the complexity and inadequate frequency of wind for harvesting. PHOTOVOLTAICS Photovoltaic cells produce electricity directly from sunlight, a free and unlimited energy source. Photovoltaics are distinct from other kinds of solar energy in that it harnesses the suns light, rather than its heat. This collected energy must be before it can be utilized in DC battery packs collect the energy and store it as 12 or 24 volt current. Most conventional appliances can not run on DC power so an inverter box is employed to convert energy to AC power for use. EARTHSHIP COMMUNITY CONCLUSIONS While it is clear that the Earthship concept has the potential to be one of the must self-sufficient, sustainable systems in the world, the concepts employed within may not always be directly applicable to every geography. In this study we have identified many sociological, economic and practical systems that operate well within existing communities like the Greater World Earthship Community. We will now explore how these concepts can be directly translated for use in the Pacific Northwest. CURRENT APPLICATION OF EARTHSHIP PRINCIPLES IN A PACIFIC NORTHWEST CONTEXT - THE KINZER EARTHSHIP NEAR BEND, OREGON SOCIO-ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES Earthship can become didactic- they inform inhabitants about a sustainable lifestyle that brings a broader awareness of their surroundings. Earthships can be adapted to many application, yet in a cohousing context they become quite significant due to their ability to promote social, economic and environmental complexity. Earthships are self contained ships that can sail the seas of tomorrow and then into space....

Earthships

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