Academy, Day 9

Another day, more Earthshiping 🙂

This morning we covered grey water and black water systems with Mike Reynolds. The grey water system takes the water from your shower, bathroom sinks and laundry and sends it through a series of botanical cells. The plants in the cells feed off the water and help to filter it as well. The water that makes it through all of the cells is then collected in a tank and is used to flush the toilet, thus you are never flushing your toilet with fresh water. This saves about 50% of a household’s water use right off the bat.

The black water coming out of the toilet and kitchen sink head out to a conventional septic tank. Once processed by the tank, the effluent is then diverted to another botanical cell that will make use of all that lovely fertilized water. There is a conventional drain field attached to this as well, but almost no effluent makes it there because the plants in the botanical cell eat it all.

Unfortunately, like my other concept descriptions, I don’t have a picture or diagram for it, but I’m working on that. When I get some, I’ll update these posts.

After that, we had a class on how to read Earthship Drawings. These are the drawings produced by the architect and stamped by the municipality when the permit was issued. The real official things. They also gave us homework too. Each work group has to produce as complete as possible list of building materials required to make a simple global model one bedroom Earthship. They gave each group a set of drawings to pull apart to make the material list from. We have one week to finish it and the group that has the best list will get taken out for lunch. Pretty snazzy.

After that, we did the lunch thing and then it was back to work. Today, my group was working in a different location, not at the main build site. We were making bottle bricks. The first part of this is cutting the bottles. We wanted bricks that are 8 inches (20 cm) so, we cut the bottles at 4 inches (10 cm) and put two of them together. Here is a picture of some of my group mates cutting bottles using ceramic tile saws.


I cut bottles for a while; I tried a variety of bottle types and shapes to see how difficult it would be. Round bottles are definitely the easiest. After the bottles are cut, we need to rinse them out and then clean them, making sure the ends are clean so you can get the best light to come through them.


We also had to sort the cut bottle halves as you want to match a clear half with a coloured half, as this gives you the best light and colour combination. You also need to match halves that are the same size and shape. There are some pretty crazy shaped bottles. I cut one that was triangular and it will be impossible to match with anything but another bottle of the exact same type.


After you find two matching ends, you put them together and wrap some tape around them. Unfortunately, most of the ones we made we had carted away in boxes, so I just have a picture of two pink halves put together so you can see what a bottle brick looks like.


After we were finished making bottles, we headed back over to the main build site for the question and answer session. I took some pictures of the progress they made over there while we were off cutting bottles. Here you can see the rebar framework that was created for the footing that will go under the vertical greenhouse wall. The trench for that was dug out yesterday.


On top of the tire wall we will be pouring a bond beam of concrete. However, instead of setting up a wooden form for the pour, we use a can wall. A can wall is just aluminum cans embedded in concrete. This will make the form for the concrete beam. You can also see the rebar that has been pounded down into the tires to bind them to the bond beam after it is poured.


This last picture gives you an overall view of the site as it was when we ended today.


Tomorrow will be more can wall work and more prep on the vertical greenhouse wall footing. We can’t actually pour the concrete until the inspector comes by to look at all of the rebar work. That should be in about two days, we were told.


2 thoughts on “Academy, Day 9”

  1. Very interesting to be sure, and good documentary coverage too! Thanks for posting all the notes and pics too!
    What will be the square footage of this home when complete?
    NM looks nice….all those lovely clouds and the mtns in the distance. Schweet. Have a grrreat day! Mums in AZ

    1. Sorry, I didn’t reply yesterday, I had to ask at the building site today. They said the living space will be about 1200 square feet, but if you add in the area of the garage and greenhouse, it will probably be about 2400 square feet.

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