Earthship home being built in Johnson

Vermont has its own Earthship being built in Johnson.
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 6:09 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2022 at 8:21 AM EDT
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JOHNSON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont has its own Earthship being built in Johnson.

An Earthship is a home concept trying to do good by the environment. The homes are built using mainly recycled or sustainable materials like used tires filled with dirt, recycled bottles, etc. They take on all different shapes and sizes over the country. There are large concentrations in New Mexico and down in the Southwest.

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

It’s about 1500-square feet of house, that’s totally off the grid. The foundation is done in dirt-packed recycled tires. This creates an insulated foundation in a U-shape around the house, combined with concrete and cans for added insulation.

Water is pulled from a natural spring and rainwater can be captured and stored in cisterns to be pulled from. Even the orientation of the house is thought through. “The front wall facing south -- that allows the sun to come in,” said Cymone.

The sun is now the Haiju’s best friend. “Here in the middle, the greenhouse is about 10-feet wide, so we are going to have huge planters in the middle of the house,” said Cymone.

A 500-square foot greenhouse will supply them with a good chunk of their food.

The sun can provide heat in the cold winter months, but a wood stove was added for Vermont’s temperature dips.

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

“I primarily specialize in off-grid solar as my main service,” said John Blittersdorf with CV Wind and Solar Service, who has worked in the solar industry for about 35 years. He says this Earthship concept is a top-tier model for energy conservation. “This design is about as good as it can get, as far as having storage in the earth.”

That is where the insulation becomes important in energy saving. If you use it, you don’t want to lose it.

This concept might not be for everyone, but the Johnson couple says it’s an investment. They aren’t sure exactly how much this one will cost, but the recycled materials keep some costs down. They say this Earth Day, you don’t need to live in the home to adopt part of the lifestyle.

“By living closer to the Earth, you get a lot of the free benefits of it, like growing your own food,” said Cymone. “Really figuring out systemic ways to lower monthly energy consumption can really make a big impact. It’s kind of like the 80-20 role. If we figure out the small things that make a big impact, cumulatively we will make a huge impact.”

“I think by making those small changes thinking about recycling, thinking about reusing, thinking about switching to more earth-friendly products,” said Rabin.

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

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