By Mary Elizabeth O’Toole
The movement towards sustainable living and renewable energy is encouraging people to rethink the way they build and live.
Bob Kloske and Pippa Creely are putting their dream of living off-grid into action. They are in the process of building an EarthShip in Ship Harbour. Their project is one of only a handful of such builds in Eastern Canada.
Earthships are self-sustaining structures built with natural and recycled materials. They use thermal and solar energy to control temperature and collect rain and snow melt for water needs.
Pippa says she has wanted to build this type of home for years. “I was brought up with a mindset of no waste. My parents reused and recycled everything. For a long time, I was looking for a new way to build and when a friend started sharing his research on EarthShips, it made sense to me right away. I wanted to learn more.”
Bob he took a little more convincing. “We started going to visit Earthship homes to sell me on the idea. The first ones that we went to were dark and damp – like going into a cave. I wasn’t sold!”
It wasn’t until they visited the home of Pippa’s friend that they saw how it could work and soon after they started planning their own Earthship, starting with a similar design.
They started by building a small cob home using local logs and clay. Pippa build much of this structure over three years while still teaching, spending summers on her property in Ship Harbour and returning to Ontario to for the school year. This cozy cabin is where they are living while building their new home.
After retirement, Bob and Pippa moved to live full time in Ship Harbour. In 2018 they started their Earthship and spent the season building walls built of tires filled with compacted earth. It is a labour intensive process that results in a very efficient insulation. When Bob and Pippa started, they finished about ___tires a day; by the end of the season, they had that up to ____.
Pippa explained that many people share the desire to reduce waste. Their house design has 4 interconnect ‘U’ shapes and each row uses 67 tires. They will build probably 10-12 levels, with the first three being covered to support the floor and form part of the heat storage system. That is a lot of tires. “We have had no trouble finding people to donate tires; everyone now is looking for better alternatives than taking them to the dump - or burning them.”
Watch for more about the build and its challenges next month.
You can view the home that inspired Bob and Pippa at Super Efficient Off-Grid Earthship Built for Early Retirement Plan.
Learn more about natural building options with the Deanery’s Permaculture Design program.