Specifications: 800 sq. ft. interior, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 40′ x 40′Description: Based on ancient Native American designs, this earth lodge with living roof will keep you cozy and warm even in the harshest climates, because it is compact, earth-sheltered, insulated and uses wood heat. South-facing windows and skylight over the kitchen ensure ample daylighting. It can be built for about $2,000 assuming wood poles are gathered locally.
Building basics: This hexagonal structure consists of earthbag walls, about head high, and a wood framed wall on the south. Six large center poles with timber beams support sloping roof poles and living roof. To reduce risk of moisture problems, it’s best to build above grade and add earth on top of the structure rather than digging below grade.
Specifications: 287 sq. ft. interior plus 287 sq. ft. loft, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 16′ x 30′Description: Here’s a dirt-cheap energy-efficient design that simple to build. This is a good starter project. Features include a loft for sleeping and office space, and south-facing windows for excellent solar gain and daylighting. Earth berming and simple curves helps the natural house blend into its environment.
Specifications: 728 sq. ft. interior plus 366 sq. ft. loft, 2 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 29′ x 31′ plus porchDescription: One of my favorites, this design has a cathedral ceiling over the main living space, wood stove, passive solar design and large porch on the west to block the hot afternoon sun. There is a large loft over the bedrooms and bath.
Specifications: 814 sq. ft. interior, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 25′ x 42′Description: This plan has all the amenities of a larger home, in a compact space with Craftsman detailing. Stylish yet simple and practical.
Specifications: 740 sq. ft. interior, 2 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 31′ x 40′ plus buttresses and covered porchDescription: Spiral 2 is a variation of my first spiral house — Spiral Earthbag House. This unique, almost Hobbit-like earth-sheltered spiral design includes a large grow bed, exposed timber ceiling and living roof. Ample light is provided by the window wall next to the grow bed, window and door glazing, and suntubes. Distinguishing features include two bedrooms, masonry two-way fireplace, covered porch and cool pantry for storage of food (no electricity required for refrigeration). An alternate roof plan is available for building with TJIs where wood poles are not available. There’s even a door planned in for future expansion. This home meets zero energy standards, and is now one of my favorite.
Specifications: 199 sq. ft. interior, Footprint: 13′ x 23′Description: Here’s a perfect design for your backyard office or studio. Building codes vary from region to region, but this design may not need a building permit because it falls below the minimum floor space requirement of 200 sq. ft.
Specifications: 525 sq. ft. interior, 1 bedroom (plus fold-out bed), 1 bath, Footprint: 24′ x 27′ plus porchesDescription: Features include a deck and large window wall that faces the waterfront, and screened porch in the rear. Designed to weather hurricanes and other extremes of ocean-front property — a perfect application for earthbags, which far surpass most other building materials in terms of hurricane resistance. This design also includes an optional cistern under the house for storage of roofwater.
Specifications: 552 sq. ft. interior, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 32′ x 32′Description: The main characteristics of this house include efficient use of space, while offering basic necessities and a few extras like a wood stove, good-sized computer desk and excellent passive solar design.
Specifications: 834 sq. ft. interior, 2 bedroom, 1 bath, Footprint: 27′ x 43′Description: This charming curved cottage is styled after homes from a bygone era, when rugged timbers supported the roof, and walls were reassuringly thick and strong. This modern cottage adds a spacious kitchen with pantry and island, passive solar design, built-in cabinets and computer desk.
Specifications: 1,693 sq. ft. interior plus 901 sq. ft. interior greenhouse, 4 bedroom, 2 bath, Footprint: 40′ x 109′ not including cisterns or optional garage.Description: Zero Energy Four is a four bedroom version of my Zero Energy home series. This revolutionary design features zero net energy use, extremely low ‘near zero’ embodied energy and extremely low cost of around $10/square foot (cost of shell, excluding energy systems). This design is the result of years of research in energy efficiency and low cost, alternative building methods.
Here’s a custom Zero Energy Four now in the works: