Caicos Middle Caicos
Dream TCI, BWI


Earthships are famous for being built from used tires. In fact, the Earthship is an entire house designed as a system. Developed for the deserts and high mountains of the Southwest US, they use an earth-bermed north wall and a full width greenhouse south wall to naturally heat and cool the house.

Although there were two Earthships to be toured at CNBW, I was so busy I missed them both. So instead, I paid a visit to an Earthship near my home. I met the owners at the Sustainable Building course I took at CSU.

A tropical Earthship won't look like the conventional Earthship. Keeping the heat of the sun outside instead of inviting in through the glass front is one obvious difference. But many of the other system, like electricity, water collection, waste treatment, can be adapted.

This Earthship is located atop the first ridgeline of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The glass wall on the south side collects sunlight in the winter. When we visited in July, though, the house was comfortably cool.

Photovoltaic panels above the windows provide electrical power. There is also a wind driven generator which gets a rough workout in sustained 100 mph winds.

The battery closet is unfinished to show that the walls are really built of tires.
Another wall in the battery closet show the can wall construction used on some interior walls.
Aside from the organic curves of the walls, the finished interior shows not hint of the tires buried inside. And, no, you can't smell the tires.
Inside the slope glass front a tropical garden thrives at over 5000 feet. A waterfall is built into the corner.
A mature and healthy Bouganvillea grows in the bedroom.
The floor tiles come from a factory in Mexico with a resident dog. Rejected by others, these dog print tiles suit this house perfectly. You're first thought is that they were handmade by Toby, the resident black Lab.

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Mike Ramsey
Tue Aug 03,1999