Betty and I had heard about a development outside of Taos where some Friends of the Earth types were trying to build a totally off-grid, sustainable community. We found it along Rt. 64, northwest of town.
Part of the allure is the chance to use recycled materials in innovative and decorative ways. Old tires and glass beer bottles are incorporated in exterior walls in all of the buildings. The photo above shows a “work in progress”, a wall that will eventually receive a skim coat of stucco (made on site, of course) that will cover everything but the bottoms of the bottles as shown surrounding the entrance to this Earthship below.
The above is the office and reception center for the development which looked to contain about 15 Earthships, some complete and inhabited, but most still under construction. The area is mostly a construction site with dozens of dedicated young men and women from all over the world, true believers all, who are working to complete the various buildings.
The heat is solar, as is the electricity. Most of the pumps and equipment is DC to simplify the system and allow the use of batteries continuously charged by roof top solar cells and windmill generation. For the same reason, the lamps are all LEDs. The water is from a well, but is used about four times (shower or sink, then into a succession of indoor gardens of various sensitivity) until it is finally used to flush the toilet into a standard septic system.
There are a few standard design Earthships as well as almost unlimited custom configurations. Essentially, you can build anything incorporating the philosophy and systems developed to limit the impact on the environment. The one above is the standard design and, being complete and inhabited, shows the wear and tear of continuous use. Not as impressive as the “model home” used as headquarters.
It was fun to take the tour and listen to the enthusiasm and commitment of the young French (?) man who showed us around. A few extra decades of disillusion and cynicism might tempt one (who?) to snicker about youthful naivete. But here they are, dozens of them, out in the desert putting their sweat and money into something they see as improving the survivability of the planet.
The best of luck, folks. And thanks.