News Local

'Earth ship' to land in B.C. 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A 10-hectare village that contains western Canada’s most-developed sustainable living enclave is taking on the construction of an earth ship — a self-replenishing home with immediate access to all the needs of survival. (SUBMITTED)

A 10-hectare village that contains western Canada’s most-developed sustainable living enclave is taking on the construction of an earth ship — a self-replenishing home with immediate access to all the needs of survival. (SUBMITTED)

It took 15 years, but they’re now ready for the earth ship.

Brandy Gallagher is the founder of the One United Resource EcoVillage — a sustainable, hand-built community that started as a small group of colleagues creating workshops on sustainable living.

With some help, she’s turned a 10-hectare farm into 18 buildings with its own carpentry shop, eatery, community classroom, kitchen, and now construction for three homes has begun.

But what makes Gallagher’s community different from just about every development are the people, and materials, that go into its construction.

“I’m building my own house right now and it’s straw bale on the back, cob on the front,” she said.

“One of the things about our EcoVillage is we’re probably — easily — 85% of the site is diverted waste materials.”

That means instead of using freshly harvested wood, the group mainly uses cob — a mix of clay, sand and straw — fashioned into bricks. Instead of manufactured insulation, straw bale is used.

Some walls are even made of old tires with dirt packed in by hammer.

Many of the workers are volunteers, some from interested tour groups, others from schools and an internship program that sees students working with instructors on each building.

About 10,000 people visit the Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island, community each year.

One of the latest projects the group is taking on is called the earth ship — known for its “closed loop system” — collecting and treating its own water, using solar polar, food plants in an indoor greenhouse, and its own sewage system.

“It creates its own ecosystem ... where it almost heats itself, it uses a lot of salvaged and recycled materials,” Gallagher said.

“You’re looking for optimum solar gain, looking for ways that you actually utilize placement, everything is in the siting of the building ... because it’s all passive solar.”

That project is slated for construction in 2015.

 

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