So, I can say, without hesitation that we are in love....with Earthships. We had the privilege of attending the 2007 Solar and Green Home Tour in Asheville. Of the 10 homes on the tour, we chose three that were our priority to see.
The first was incredibly hard to find. We thought we followed the directions, but ended up in Montreat (a beautiful town with a Ten Thousand Villages store...I bought a wonderfully carved wooden box that made the journey completely worthwhile). When we finally got ourselves on the right path, we discovered that the house was up a mountain - literally! Of course, the road was not paved, so I spent the better part of the trip crossing my fingers that we wouldn't slide backward or off the side. The house was quite nice and the owner and builder were both available to show us around and answer questions. It was a modular they had "greened" in a development that now includes 200+ acres for very few homesites. The openly discussed challenges with their system and I saw (for the first time), a solar hot water setup that was attached to the side of the house. Very cool.
The second home was a bit easier to find, but straight up a mountain none the less. It is also on the Parade of Homes so we knew it would be of a slightly different caliber. Sure enough, shortly after walking in we were approached by the owner/developer who wanted to share with us the details of her community. It turns out, she and her husband bought a mountain and a river with the thought of building a green community with amenities. They built the first and highest house on the property and have sold other home sites from 1 - 3 acres. All houses will be required to have geothermal heat, solar, a passive solar design, and sustainable materials. Eventually, the community will have a solar heated pool, a labyrinth, hiking trails, and gardens. The house itself was gorgeous. Big open spaces with fantastic views. As I expected, it was slightly out of our price range - only 1.96 million or so. Still interesting to see...
The last house was by far our favorite and has to be one of the most beautiful houses I have been in. It is an Earthship. Built by a builder and his wife who moved from Oregon (I believe) to NC. Eventually they ended up in Madison County. I spent the night dreaming of plans and how living in one would change my life. An explanation of an earthship is to follow.