Earthship House is being built in Johnson

JOHNSON, Vt. (WCAX) — Vermont has its own Earthship, which is being built in Johnson.

An Earthship is a living concept that tries to do good for the environment. The houses are mainly built from recycled or sustainable materials such as dirt-filled used tires, recycled bottles, etc. They take on all different shapes and sizes across the country. There are large concentrations in New Mexico and down in the Southwest.

The one in Johnson is taken over by Cymone and Rabin Haiju. “It’s really meant to put us in synergy with Earth,” Cymone said.

It’s a roughly 1500 square foot house that is completely off the grid. The foundation consists of dirt-packed recycled tires. This creates an insulated U-shape foundation around the house, combined with concrete and cans for additional insulation.

Water is taken from a natural spring and rainwater can be collected and stored in cisterns for withdrawal. The orientation of the house is also well thought out. “The front wall faces south — that lets the sun in,” Cymone said.

The sun is now the haiju’s best friend. “Right here in the middle, the greenhouse is about 10 feet wide, so we’re going to have huge planters in the middle of the house,” Cymone said.

A 500 square meter greenhouse will provide them with a good portion of their food.

The sun can provide warmth during the cold winter months, but a wood-burning stove has been added for Vermont’s temperature dips.

The house also produces its own energy. “We have solar panels, and those solar panels are about 4 kilowatts, and they’re doing a great job,” Rabin said. Rabin says they had to reduce power consumption to make it work. They brought in an expert to make sure all the energy was accounted for.

“I primarily specialized in off-grid solar as my core service,” said John Blittersdorf of CV Wind and Solar Service, who has been in the solar industry for about 35 years. He says this Earthship concept is a prime energy conservation model. “This design is as good as it gets when it comes to in-ground storage.”

This is where insulation becomes important to save energy. If you use it, you don’t want to lose it.

This concept might not be for everyone, but the Johnson couple say it’s an investment. Not sure how much this one will cost, but the recycled materials keep some costs down. They say that on this Earth Day you don’t have to live at home to embrace any part of the lifestyle.

“By living closer to Earth, you get many of the free benefits that come with it, such as: Like growing your own food,” Cymone said. “Finding systemic ways to reduce monthly energy consumption can really make a difference. It’s kind of an 80-20 roll. If we figure out the little things that make a big impact, we will cumulatively make a big impact.”

“I think by making these small changes, I’m thinking about recycling, thinking about reuse, thinking about switching to greener products,” Rabin said.

The Haijus know of at least two other Earthships in Vermont.

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