There is a family that is building what is commonly being referred to as an "Earthship" in the southern part of Alberta. This is a unique off-the-grid home that uses recycled materials in its construction and will use solar power to supply power. The home is located close to Vulcan, Alberta.
Used tires are filled with dirt and then stacked much like bricks to form the outer walls. It has windows facing south and angled correctly to collect heat and sunlight. Solar panels will generate electricity and melted snow and rain will be collected in cisterns. This water will be filtered so that it can be used as drinking water.
There is no infrastructure required for this type of home since it is completely off the grid. The sewage system is self-contained and the building is 100% self-sustaining.
According to the founder and architect of Earthship Biotecture, Michael Reynolds, the home has been designed to meet the severe climate in Canada and so far 3 other Earthship homes have been built in this country. The testing for the home was done in the mountains of New Mexico in a climate that is worse than what we experience. The home in Alberta will also be equipped with a wood stove and a lot of insulation.
Volunteers assembled to help with the building so that they can learn hands-on how to build their own. Forty volunteers from as far away as Australia, California and Québec have assembled along with local folks to construct the house, which is about as long as 2 school buses. The cost of the Alberta project is somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 but the long-term savings will be substantial. Just imagine never having to pay another utility bill for the rest of your life!