How do you build an environmentally sustainable home, that is energy efficient and weather tight? A home that withstands earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters? And you build it with your own two hands, using the earth beneath your feet?
That’s what I went to find out when I took a workshop at the California Institute for Earth Architecture and Art- Cal Earth, is “ a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing solutions to the human need for shelter through research, development, and education in earth architecture.” An institute that shows you how earth turns to gold.
An Open House tour prompted my initial visit (Cal-Earth generally holds these tours the first Saturday of the month). Being there can sort of feel like you’ve stepped on the set of something akin to a desert space odyssey (Star Wars, anyone?). I found the tour fascinating, viewing a variety of earth structures- from a 400 sq-foot emergency shelter dome that can be built in a day, to a 2,000 sq. ft home with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a 2 car garage.
Afterwards, I signed up for the introductory. day-long workshop.An enlightening experience that I enjoyed.
Amazing what you can do with earth, water, sandbags and barbed wire. Of course any reason to get my hands dirty (or should I say ’earthy’ since the word ’dirt’ is not used at the institute). At this time though, my plans of using my newfound knowledge and skills extends to replacing a retaining wall around the patio area in my backyard.
A future episode is coming soon!