[Greenbuilding] Earthship in New York

Ross Elliott relliott at homesol.ca
Fri Jul 26 17:45:04 MDT 2013

Not to rain on your parade Genarro, but "Earthship" and "Passive House" are
rather contradictory terms, at least in New York's climate. The insulation
values needed to reach Passive House are a long way off from dirt packed
tires, and much as I admire what Mike Reynolds did in New Mexico with
materials that weren't being recycled back then, bottles, pop cans and tires
are no longer just garbage. It's a tremendous amount of work to build with
tires, some people I know of spent several years just getting the walls up
and then couldn't afford to complete the structure. Some are convinced the
thermal mass of Earthships have some magical effect on energy consumption,
and that over-glazed sloped south walls don't leak, overheat during the day
and lose heat excessively at night, despite evidence to the contrary. I've
been to Taos and stayed in an Earthship, and have read everything Mike
Reynolds wrote and watched all the videos, and I respect the creativity in
these homes which certainly should be part of any decent green building
project, but I hope that by investigating "Passive House concepts" you'll
discover the shortcomings of Earthships in a cold climate. Why not insulated
rammed earth, strawbale, or even super-insulated wood frame construction?

Solar thermal radiant is barely economically feasible (with a backup system)
with a certified Passive House in northern climates, so go with a cold
climate air source heat pump or geothermal, if those are your only choices
and you really want a tire house. But if you build a true Passive House, you
can heat with a much simpler, cheaper combo DHW system, cool with a ground
loop and night cooling bypass on your ERV and save a fortune on HVAC
installation costs. Plus you can add solar thermal to the mix if you like,
with an appreciable % of energy boost.  

Ross Elliott LEED-AP, CPHC 
Homesol Building Solutions Inc.
Almonte, ON

On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 1:06 PM, Gennaro Brooks-Church - Eco Brooklyn <
info at ecobrooklyn.com> wrote:

> This is a typical tire packed earthship. I am looking to implement 
> Passive House methods and see where we end up. I'd like to use as much 
> salvaged materials as well of course.
> I guess my question is not so related to an Earthship though. It is 
> more one of using solar thermal radiant or Minisplit PV.
> Matt you raise an excellent point about humidity. For that reason 
> alone it may be worth going with Minisplits.
> The larger question is what is a better use of money for an East Coast 
> building with land, solar thermal, PV or geothermal....?
> Gennaro Brooks-Church
> Director, Eco Brooklyn Inc.
> Cell: 1 347 244 3016 USA
> www.EcoBrooklyn.com
> 22 2nd St; Brooklyn, NY 11231

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