The concept of the Earthship all started in New Mexico by Michael Reynolds, an architect, whose goal was to bring self-sufficient homes that were everlasting and in harmony with the environment that dealt with the waste that building design often creates. The Earthship movement began in the southeast of the United States but today has grown to be implemented globally.
The typical Earthship home uses tires filled with soil to act as thermal mass for the exterior walls. Oftentimes in the new world of high performance enclosures the utilization of thermal mass is overlooked as a means to lower energy costs on the building. Using a material for its thermal mass is a traditional building method that has been overlooked even though it is an excellent way to keep a room cool during the hot days and allow then give off the daily collected radiation by the evening into the cooler interior space. Often the home is set into a slope or hillside to utilize the insulated mass of the land as well. Other features include systems such as renewable solar and wind energy in addition to natural ventilation and capitalizing on day lighting to keep the space lit. The majority of the building materials are recycled items that would be thrown out anyways. For example, many homes use glass bottles as decorative wall art which also allows in light.
The MEP systems of the Earthship include water harvesting cisterns that are supplied by channels from the roof that filters the water through several steps in order to provide irrigation to indoor and outdoor landscaping, flushing toilets, and regulating the humidity of the house. The Earthship collects and stores solar and wind energy and are usually still connected to the public grid as a backup or as a means to give energy back to the grid.