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A groundhouse is simply a home aligned by nature in all three aspects of design

Architecture – simple solar passive house (solar orientation, high thermal mass, insulation, natural ventilation)

Systems ecological to harvest and recycle (renewable energy, water collection, wastewater recycling, food growing)

Materials – affordable and low carbon (local, renewable, recycled, upcycled materials)

Ecotechnologies and building design deliver solar power, solar hot water, rainwater for washing, and a steady comfortable interior temperature. The house is easy and economical to run and live in.

The Brittany Groundhouse maintained an average temperature of 20 degrees during our first year…with no fossil fuel input

Back to basics

Providing shelter, like food is a basic human need. I first started to write a book on Groundhouse in the Vezere Valley, a prehistoric site that sheltered our common european ancestors, the Cromagnon, during the last ice age. 10,000 years later, Cromagnons’ descendants have spread everywhere and our impact is now massive as population has exploded and we have disconnected from nature. We have also lost touch with the very process of providing shelter for ourselves, and perhaps this partly explains why modern housing is the way it is. A commodity for someone else’s profit, built with little concern for working with nature to reduce both impact and living costs.

Why Not Build?

Politicians and planners across the globe are lining up to enable green building. Yet time and time again people talk of the battles with planners to gain acceptance. It is my experience that there is less of a ‘battle’, less of an ‘us and them’ situation.

Planners and politicians support projects that make sense and are well presented. In fact, they go way beyond this in trying to work within the strait jacket of ‘slow to change’ policies and practices.

When we founded the Low Carbon Trust in Brighton, and went to the planners with an Earthship they not only supported the application, but made an exception, enabling it to happen. Later, when I was wrestling with complex regulations for a 16 unit Earthship village, again exceptions where made to accommodate aspects of the design. It was the same experience in France.

Unless we can make a shift in our mindsets, our own ‘wiring’, we will waste our energy in conflict and spend too much time building stories about why things can’t change. There is no ‘battle’ against climate change. This is the old language of separation, of dog eat dog and of man against nature.

A Groundhouse or Earthship epitomises the kind of holistic, ultralow carbon approach that we need and people will support these kind of radical approaches because they are simply make sense…for ourselves and for our climate…