Insights into Public Perceptions of Earthship Buildings as Alternative Homes

Colin Booth, Sona Rasheed, Abdul-Majeed Mahamadu, Rosemary Horry, Patrick Manu, Kwasi Gyau Baffour Awuah, Emmanuel Aboagye-Nimo, Pagagiotis Georgakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainable futures necessitate a concomitant requirement for both sustainable buildings and sustainable behaviours under one roof. The defining principles behind Earthship buildings are to promote the use of local, recycled, waste, natural and renewable materials in their construction, for the adoption of a passive solar design for internal heating/cooling, collection of rainwater as
a potable water supply, and encourage the onsite recycling of used water for plants to aid food production. However, despite growth in Earthship buildings constructed across many countries of the world, their appeal has not yet made a noticeable contribution to mainstream housing. Therefore, this study is the first to attempt to explore public perceptions towards the benefits and barriers of
Earthship buildings as a means of understanding their demand by potential home builders/owners. Opinions were sought through questionnaire surveys completed by visitors to the Brighton Earthship building. Results reveal that the public believe that the reclamation of rainwater and greywater, renewable energy consumption and use of recycled materials included in the design/build are the major benefits of Earthship buildings, whilst the opportunity for a modern living style in a
conservative lifestyle/setting, having a building that is cheaper than an ordinary home and the possibility of living totally off grid are considered the least beneficial reasons for building Earthship homes. Results also reveal that the public believe acquiring necessary permits/permissions to build may be more complicated, securing financial support (mortgage/loan) may be more challenging, and identifying/attaining suitable building plots are major barriers of Earthship buildings, whilst the futuristic/alternative building design, being built from waste materials and being entirely dependent on renewable resources (rainfall/wind/sunshine) are considered the least important barriers to building Earthship homes. Notwithstanding the participants included in this study already having an interest in Earthship buildings/lifestyles, it is concluded that the general public deem the general principles of Earthships as an acceptable choice of building/living but it is the formal means of building or buying an Earthship home that is the greatest hurdle against the uptake of Earthship buildings. Therefore, if sustainable futures are to be realized, it is proposed that a shift away from
traditional house building towards Earthship building will require the involvement of all stakeholders immersed in the building process (architects, planners, builders, investors, lawyers) to path an easier journey for Earthship buildings and sustainable living.
Original languageEnglish
Article number377
Pages (from-to)1-15
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021


  • sustainable construction
  • alternative living
  • recycling
  • reusing
  • waste management
  • Waste management
  • Sustainable construction
  • Recycling
  • Alternative living
  • Reusing


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