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Sustainable Homes: The Earthship

Homes and other buildings have a direct impact on the environment due to the construction process utilized to build them, the materials used, and the design features. Traditional homes have typically had a negative impact on the environment, contributing greenhouse gases into the air with heating, cooling, and other types of energy usage. Sustainable building is gaining traction as more people seek to reduce the negative impact of their homes on the environment. Earthships are one sustainable home option, created by architect Michael Reynolds. These structures are designed for independent operation off of the grid, minimizing their negative impact on the environment. Some municipalities are developing special sustainable communities with Earthship homes for sale.

History of Earthships

Earthships have been evolving for more than 40 years with home designs that can exist in harmony with the environment. Reynolds receives credit as the mastermind behind the concept of Earthships. Reynolds’s vision has involved redefining architecture to build homes that need no energy or very little energy, both during the construction process and after. The name “Earthship” was created for these homes because they are self-sustaining structures. This means that they use renewable sources of energy such as the sun, wind, and water to power the home.

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Construction and Design

Earthships contain both recycled and natural materials, earning them the label of “carbon-zero” homes. Contractors scour landfills to find suitable building materials for constructing Earthships. Materials such as discarded tires, aluminum cans, and glass and plastic beverage bottles have been collected for use in building Earthships. Mixing old tires with compacted soil creates an exceptionally strong material suitable for outer walls and load-bearing interior walls. Aluminum cans may be the main material used to construct other interior walls. These homes even utilize discarded panels from appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators in their construction. In addition, Earthships are built to coexist with and integrate into their surrounding natural environment. These homes have a soil thermal wrap around them, which helps regulate the interior temperature of the homes. Earthships often have at least two sides that are built into the earth. The roof design of Earthships enables harvesting of rainwater to divert into the home. After filtering the rainwater, homeowners can use it for laundry or cleaning.

Generation and Use of Power and Water

Earthships are independent structures, producing the power needed for their heating, cooling, water generation, water heating, sewage, lighting, and general electricity. With the installation of special organizing modules that collect energy from the sun and wind, Earthships save this energy for use in the home. Special batteries will hold the energy until the home needs it for heating or cooling, for example. The batteries will also use the energy for other processes in the home, such as operating a washing machine, kitchen appliances, and electrical devices. After collection of rainwater in cisterns, a special water organizing module filters and pumps the water into a pressurized tank for use in the home.

Examples of Earthships

A number of different Earthship designs are in active use around the world. As research and technology continues to expand, Earthships evolve with new designs and features. Some people opt for a custom Earthship with features that are built to exact specifications. This type of Earthship is the most expensive type of home. Other models are more economical because they have standardized features. Earthships can be designed and built for virtually any geographical location, including tropical parts of the world.

How to Acquire an Earthship

Acquiring an Earthship involves learning about this type of home and then planning the location of it. Choosing the location of the Earthship is an important part of the planning process, due in part to the permit process that is typically involved. It’s possible to build an Earthship in any climate, so geographic location need not be limited based on this factor. But some locations may be less expensive for building due to varying prices in sustainable building materials. Anyone wishing to build an Earthship should research possible locations, including the terrain and geographical features, as well as permits required.

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Source: sustainablecitiescollective


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24 hours in Durban

Beautiful beaches, warm weather, curry, seafood, art-deco architecture, culture, history … Durban has it all.

So, you’ll be visiting Durban and have just a day in which to see the best that South Africa’s third largest city has to offer. Here are some ideas of what you can get up to.

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This coastal playground is most famous for its perennially warm climate and beautiful beaches. While summer temperatures may reach 34°C, winters are balmy, with days averaging in the mid- to high 20s.

As a result the lifestyle in the city is geared to making the most of the outdoors, and so should you.

A day’s itinerary should definitely include a visit to the Golden Mile, Durban’s famous beachfront, where a long, paved promenade provides pedestrian access between golden sands and a variety of hotels and holiday apartments that overlook the Indian Ocean.

You may choose to join the joggers and walkers in the early morning or late afternoon; or rent a bicycle from a promenade vendor; or follow the promenade northwards to theMoses Mabhida Stadium to sign up for a Segway tour along the beachfront.

The stadium is a beautifully designed modern sports structure that’s well worth a visit. If you’re in need of an adrenalin boost, there’s a bungee swing from the top; or take the SkyCar to the viewing site on the stadium’s great arch for a 360-degree view of Durban and a great photographic opportunity.

While in the beachfront environs, at the most southerly end, just before the Durban harbour, is uShaka Sea World, the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere and an extensive marine fun park. An aquarium tour will see two hours fly by, as there’s an incredible array of marine creatures to see.

Fancy some breakfast, or perhaps a hearty brunch? You could stay at uShaka, where there are many eateries to choose from, or pop up to the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts in Bulwer Road for a tasty meal under the trees, and then browse the gallery and ethnic craft shop for mementos afterwards.

If “retail therapy” is high on your list of things to do in Durban, the N3 road will take you to the Pavilion shopping mall in Westville, while the N2 South takes you to the Galleria shopping mall in Amanzimtoti, and the N2 North to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga.

Durban’s best-known cuisine is curry, followed by seafood. The city has many excellent curry restaurants that specialise in this spicy cuisine, and there are as many that have made seafood their main drawcard. A hollowed-out half-loaf filled with curry – a “bunny chow” or “bunny” – is a traditional way of enjoying a Durban curry.

In the city itself, historical points of interest on your itinerary might include the City Hall, KwaMuhle Museum, the Old Court House Museum or simply taking in the many examples of 1930s art-deco architecture. Walking tours of the city also depart daily for a more comprehensive experience.

Also try the Durban Botanic Gardens, where you’re assured of a good cuppa and a plate of the best crumpets, syrup and cream south of the Sahara.

Enjoy a stroll around the gardens or take a golf-cart tour if you’re running out of time and want to see the orchid house, herbarium and other hidden parts of this magnificent green lung.

You may also cocktails on the pier at Moyo (back at the beachfront) as a lovely way to end the daylight hours, as surfers below catch the last waves of the day.

An evening meal may be a meat-lovers’ delight at the Havana Grill at the Suncoast Casino (on the promenade), or at one of the trendy restaurants that line Florida Road; or head north on the N2 to Umhlanga for a stylish repast at one of Durban’s two oldest hotels, theOyster Box or the Beverly Hills. Umhlanga has a host of alternate dining venues within a stone’s throw of these grande dames.

Source: southafrica


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#MeetSouthAfrica’s Groot Marico

Groot Marico, named after the Marico River, is a wild and wonderful town, where historic wars have been fought, South African moonshine is produced, water sports, hiking, camping and hiking are the order of the day, and time is optional.

The fascinating little town is a two-hour drive from the Gauteng border with the North West province, and is a useful stop for travellers on their way to Madikwe Game Reserve or Botswana. Populated by down-to-earth and hospitable people, the town’s economy relies upon mining, agriculture and tourism.

Besides having the perfect climate and terrain for farming cattle, maize and citrus fruit, and quarries for mining various rock, Groot Marico produces one product that many find more interesting.

The town is famous for its mampoer, a South African version of moonshine, which is made from fruit and has a frighteningly high alcohol content (although some maintain it is still quite tasty). For guests who wish to see how mampoer is made, there are tours in the area, but however interesting the process might be, you probably shouldn’t try it at home.

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If traditional Afrikaner alcohol isn’t really your thing, the area also offers various physical activities. There are several nature hikes that allow you to experience the typical African bushveld up-close and personal, while cyclists gather in Groot Marico once a year for the annual Marico Mountain Bike Classic.

The Marico Bushveld Dam (also known as Riekertsdam) is a popular spot for various water sports such as sailing, skiing and fishing (fishing enthusiasts also have the option of other nearby dams along the Marico River that provide good fishing).

Although people typically think of scuba diving as a seaside sport, the Eye of Marico dam with its clear, pure water and other-worldly terrain offers an enchanting scuba experience.

Groot Marico is also a good place to get to know a bit about South African culture and history. Most notably, it was one of the places where the famous South African writer,Herman Charles Bosman, set many of his stories. He summed up his attachment to the town thus: ‘There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa.’ The culturally curious might like to visit the Herman Charles Bosman Festival, held every year in October

As well as being ‘Bosman territory’, Groot Marico was also the site of some Anglo-Boer War (also known as the South African War) battles – a cemetery on Wonderfontein farm still holds graves where some British soldiers were buried. Visitors who have a penchant for history can indulge their lust for learning on battlefield tours in the area.

The town is renowned for its artistic flair; there are several artists in the village, as well as shops and activities that revolve around art and creativity. The tourism centre is home to several shops selling curios, crafts and local creations, and the Art Factory’s products include leatherwork, ironwork, pottery and paintings.

If enjoying the creativity of others lights a spark in your own artful heart, a visit to the Café Verre Glass Studio will enrich your soul. At Café Verre, visitors are given the opportunity to create their own works of art in the medium of glass, mosaic and stained glass.

Accommodation in the town is plentiful and varied, with everything from guest houses and B&Bs to genuine farmstead accommodation, and camping and caravan sites.

Source: southafrica


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