Eco Shelters
Sustainable Building

Earthworks Reseach Center has been researching a wide variety of green building technologies and techniques to evaluate and demonstrate environmentally responsible and healthy building systems. We have been designing, building and evaluating several green building systems over the last 20 years. Over that time we have identified some of the most high performance eco building systems. Each building system has its advantages and we recommend residents in the Eco Villages we design to consider these alternative high performace technologies.

Some of the sustainable building technoligies under study ranged from traditional timber frame and log sturctures to geodesic domes, stawbale constuction, cob, bio fibre and earthships. We will also have been evaluating the top solar heating and cooling systems and a wide variety of renewable energy systems. Our testing and research has produced a set of recommendations that are available to Earthworks clients. Each application has a different set of requirements so we help our clients match the technology to thier specific project. Here are a few of the technologies we recommend for various applications.

Healthy Homes - All of the eco building technologies described below are available from Natural Buildings. A Eco Design Build company we have been working with on a number of projects and the company which built the Earthwalk Eco Education Centre. Natural Buildings has a keen awarness around creating both healthy and sustainable living space that are kind both to the planet and most importantly to the people who live in the spaces they create.

Interested in EMF Free Living - Elecro Magnetic Sensitivity is a growing problem in our society. Because EMF sources can be inside and outside your home we are working on community based solutions. We are currently working on EMF free versions of Earthships, Bio Fibre, Container and Steel Homes. We are designing not only EMF free homes but community living where you are assured of an EMF and environmentally 'clean' place for a restorative retreat, a healthy vacation, an extended stay, or to reside in a like-minded community? We are working with the designers at Natural Buildings to develop a line of EMF living space solutions even for Tiny Homes. We have also scouted out some of the best locations in Canada for creating an EMF free communities, and we are currently in the midst of working with municipalities for zoning variations and permits to facilitate the creation of EMF-free communities.

Bio Fibre

Bio Fibre - The High Performance Building Block System is the first of it’s kind with a negative carbon material classification. We now consider the building system as a first choice for healthy eco home construction. It can replace concrete blocks/panels/ICF or multi-component wood-frame construction with a simple inter-locking structural building block system. Used in residential, commercial, industrial and institutional applications it achieves high insulation values (up to R40), thermal retention and 100% thermal break, as well as sound attenuation, increased durability and fire resistance. mold resistance, It creates the ultimate high performance sustainable building system, appealing not only to environmentally conscious consumers, architects, builders and owners, but to bankers and accountants because of the large savings in annual operating costs.

Straw Bale

Straw Bale constuction has become famous for its low cost, high efficiency and quiet organic nature. Using a by product of an agricultural crop staw bale buidings offers affordable but effecient R40 walls that can be crafted into very innovative high performance stuctures. Straw Bale structures are known for thier almost sound proof qualities as well as being considerably more fire resistant when compared to stick framed homes.

straw bale interior

There are Several Reasons to build with straw bales. Combining thier high insulation factors with passive solar designs can create very low energy requrements and opperating cost. They are effecient to both heat and cool. Straw Bale walls are also nearly sound proff walls for increased "pin drop" comfort. The contracter we most often use combines the strength of post and beam frame with straw bale infill to create beautiful high performace structures.


Earthships are a smart self sufficient approach to creating an eco home. A well designed Earthship may be the ultimate eco shelter. These innovative structures half buried into the ground do not only look futuristic, their clever design makes these houses perfectly geared for future dwelling. This is a simple but labor intensive technology that yealds results are very impressive. Residing in an earthship has significant perks. They are designed to be completely self heating and self cooling, and robust enough to survive earthquakes, hurricanes and extreme weather. Interior green houses for food production and cold rooms for food storage are being incorporated into the structures. Rain water harvesting is integrated to provide additional self suffienency and supply security.

Earthships have it all when it comes to self sufficiency. The Earthship building technologies feature a known potential of having low or even a zero footprint and for sites with a good southern exposure are perhaps the ideal eco home solution.

Cob Builidings

Cob Building or "building with earth" has a long and successful history. Cob refers to the lumps of clay-rich soil that were mixed with straw and then stomped into place to create monolithic earthen walls. Before coal and oil made transportation cheap, houses were built from whatever materials were close at hand. In places where timber was scarce, the building material most available was often the soil underfoot.

Cob construction is particularly easy to learn, requires no fancy equipment, uses local materials, and can be done in small batches as time allows — making it extremely accessible to a wide range of people. Anecdotal evidence and recent testing show cob walls are highly resistant to earthquakes. Unlike cement or adobe, which tend to shake apart in an earthquake, lumps of cob are woven together in the building process to form one large mass reinforced by straw fibre. Also, unlike cement, cob is easily repaired with the same material it was built from, and if torn down, there is no waste to be disposed of — only earth that can be returned to the ground or soaked in water and reused to build another room or house. Cob is often used for interior walls in solar heated homes as they perform well as heat sinks.

Container Builidings

Many people decide to build a shipping container home because they offer exceptional value for money; however there are many more benefits to building a container home. For instance, a shipping container homes can be environmentally friendly? For each recycled shipping container we are reusing around 3,500kg worth of steel. We are also saving all of the traditional building materials (such as bricks, mortar and wood) which don’t need to be used. Contrary to what you might think, it is reletivly easy to execute a shipping container home design. Much like a prefabricated home once it ready to be moved to your site. All you need a delivery guys ready to maneuver them into your location and onto your prepared foundation or pad. The are lots of innovative ideas for container homes and you can end up with a great home in a short time for a smaller budget.

Any container ship design can be easily incorporated into any container home. You want to add doors or windows or need a stair case, simple enough. This is the idea behind all container ship homes. On an average, a shipping container takes a total of couple of months to be up and standing and ready to be moved into, right from the time of booking with the company. In some cases, you can even inform the company about what you need it to look like and those changes can be made even before the delivery is made. Despite all the above mentioned advantages, the biggest benefit of a container ship home design is that you can absolutely make sure the exact thing you need. Ship container architecture provides such a wide range of solutions that it is easy to make it reflect exactly who you are.


Steel Buildings

Another option are prefabricated steel builidng kits. With steels' high strength to wieght ratio it has advantages for construction of prefabricated homes that at shipped to site and RV's and tiny homes that want to reduce load wieght on the trailer. Steel framing is unaffected by temperature and humidity changes and does not rot, warp, split, crack, or expand or contract with moisture content so it tends to be and stay much more demensionally stable. Steel will not contribute fuel to a fire. So any fire in a steel home tends to be limited to a local area causing much less damage. Steel framing can help resist the onset and growth of mold and provides no food for termites or other insects.

Steel framing also reduces labour costs has advantages for the DYI home builder as it takes fewer skills much less time to asseble. A steel house kit can be completely framed in a weekend and closed to weather in a matter of days.

Steel framing also reduces the environmental footprint of a home. Where as an average sized wood framed home requires at least 40 trees to be cut for framing. The framing for a typical steel framed home can be made from six recyled cars. The use of steel framing saves our forests and has a positive impact on CO2 emissions as a result of home construction.

Geodesic Domes

geodesic interiorGeodesic Domes pioneered by Buck Minster Fuller are highly effecient to construct and to opperate providing upto a 30% saving over conventional construction and high structural integredy in extreme weather conditions. They can also provide low opperating cost per square foot.

With no interior load bearing walls geodesic domes provide a fully open interior space with large clear spans. Ideal for large open concept space designs and highly effecient solarium applications. We often use these structures for common space, meeting space, worship centres, educational venues and utility out buildings however they have also been used to create some very beautiful homes as well.

Earthworks Eco Villages feature mindfully designed and environmentally integrated stuctures that demonstrate sustainable and healthy approches to buildings.

Take a look at some of the Intentional Communities we have designed. Copyright © Earthwalk Inc.