Design Principals

“…the Earthship is the epitome of sustainable design and construction. No part of sustainable living has been ignored in this ingenious building.”
~ Michael Reynolds

Earthships are self-sustaining all the way down to the primary design of the building. Each dwelling creates its own electricity, water catchment, a contained sewage treatment system, and production of food. Owning an Earthship can help reduce or eliminate utility bills by:

  • Generating electricity from the sun and wind.
  • Catching water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, flushing, and other water needs.
  • Storing and treating all sewage produced using a healthy and natural method.
  • Maintaining comfortable temperatures year round, typically between 68 and 72 degrees.

The main systems that allow this to happen are heating and cooling, electricity generation, collection and treatment of sewage, building materials, water, and food production. While there are detailed explanations of each on our systems page, here is a brief overview:

  • Solar and Thermal Heating & Cooling System: No matter the climate, an Earthship will sustain comfortable temperatures. Our planet has two sources for temperature: the sun and the planet itself. The sun is similar to a nuclear power plant source, while the planet is a thermal stabilizing mass that is able to distribute temperatures without the use of wires or pipes.
  • Solar and Wind Electricity: Earthships create electricity using a prepackaged energy system. It uses Photovoltaic and wind power. Energy created is stored via batteries and supplied to the electrical outlets in the Earthship.
  • Contained Sewage Treatment: Earthships use both indoor and outdoor treatment cells to use, store and reuse all sewage produced in your dwelling. This helps with food production, as well as the ability to landscape without polluting aquifers. Please note rules controlling the use of gray water have not been codified in El Paso County, Colorado. Earthship Village Colorado is working with El Paso County to develop and pass regulations which can benefit all parties.
  • Construction Materials: The primary building blocks of an Earthship are natural and recycled materials. By restricting the type of materials used to build the dwelling and using only local materials, it eliminates the need to ship materials. This reduces the overall resource usage.
  • Water Collection: Earthships catch water from rain and snow. Each drop of water gathered is used four times. All water is heated using one of three sources: the sun, biodiesel, and or natural gas. The source used is based on the homeowner’s personal preferences. This allows Earthship to avoid adding to the pollution and contamination of the underground aquifers.
  • Please note in El Paso County, Colorado current laws regulating water catchment are not yet codified.
  • Food Production: Earthships use planters that hold water from sinks and showers. Each planter can hold and clean hundreds of gallons of water. The planters are a source of irrigation for all areas that require water. This includes: greenhouses, gardens, bird baths, and even fish ponds.

You can find more information on any of the systems mentioned above by clicking here to go directly to our Systems page.



The Nautilus model has a strong and elegant shape. Its design is based on a Fibonacci sequence. This particular sequence features numbers calculated by adding the previous two numbers. This creates an evenly spaced shape in the form of a nautilus or snail. This model uses rammed earth walls made out of tires, just like other models. However, the walls of the Nautilus model are also enclosed in straw bales.

The Nautilus gets its name due to its spiral shaped floor plan. The layout wraps around a bedroom loft featuring a fireplace. The opposite bend of the spiral shape plan is made into a cistern for water storage.


The Hut model contains circular rooms when built using rammed earth walls made out of tires. The roof is a manufactured steel rebar. It is bent and wired together. Afterwards it is sheathed in a mesh made of wires and placed at its destination on top of the tire walls before using cement to plaster over it.


The Hybrid model is a mixture of both the bedrooms of the Hut model and the Packaged model, which helps provide an easier ability to expand. Plus it offers a double greenhouse to significantly increase the food production.

The Hybrid can be used in either hot or cold wet climates. This model is able to be modified for handling large amounts of snow, such as the amounts Colorado Springs receives, without deviating from the basic layout. The Hybrid cannot modify either its north or south faces. However, the east or west areas can be changed to the length desired by the owner of the building.



One of the oldest Earthship layouts is the Global model. Each time the Global model is constructed, we learn from it. Then, using the lessons from each building, we create better methods and options for the design and construction of future models. The Global design allows it to function off the grid no matter what climate the building is in. This makes it a great choice for Colorado and the 300 days of sun per year we have here.

In this model, a network of cooling tubes under the earth, and convection skylights, work simultaneously to supply the dwelling with natural air conditioning and aeration. The Global model has been built in a variety of places around the world including: Canada, Holland, Mexico, Turkey, and the United States.

The Global Earthship model is easy to change and most Global models are built by the Earthship staff within a few months.



The Phoenix model is larger than the basic Earthship option. It provides a roomy 5,000 square feet of living space. The overall shape of the Earthship is similar to a horseshoe. It features three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Although fireplaces are a luxury living item, some people enjoy the aesthetics of a fire on cold days, and the Phoenix has included one for this use.

One third of the entire area of the Phoenix model is designed for producing food. This option also consists of an aviary, fish pond, and a greenhouse.


There are endless possibilities for the design and manufacturing of a custom built Earthship. Unlike other Earthship design options, a custom-built Earthship option is designed for individual preferences and not for optimum performance. However, a custom Earthship is worth the effort if you know what you want.