Summerside man planning to build an Earthship in Wellington

Colin MacLean
Published on April 4, 2014

WELLINGTON – A Summerside man is aiming to build P.E.I.'s first Earthship.

Jordan Cameron, 22, has been working on the project for more than a year already, but is now counting down the days until his target start date of June 1.

It's very exciting – and more than a little scary, said Cameron.

“It feels great, but definitely a bit nerve wracking. Because it's my first big project and my ass is on the line,” he joked.

Cameron is a graduate of the construction technology program at Holland College.

He got interested in Earthships after graduation, while he was trying to figure out what career path he wanted to follow.

The term “Earthship” is used to describe homes built using a method developed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, New Mexico, in the early 1970s.

They use recycled junk as a primary building material and have a very small environmental footprint as a result.

Sustainable construction has always interested him, so he started researching Earthships, even spending a season as a volunteer in Arizona, building one of the homes. He's going back to the U.S. in about two weeks to help build another.

They use passive solar as a primary source of heat, meaning they take full advantage of their placement relative to the sun, use large windows and are extremely well insulated. Earthships built in colder climates only need a small wood stove to help keep them warm.

Old tires packed solid with earth are used to make the walls

They usually use solar panels for electricity, but can be hooked up to the grid if they aren't in a place with sufficient sunlight.

Earthships also use a system ducts, cisterns and pumps to collect rain and snow melt for purification, creating potable water. Gray water is used to fill the toilets and feed an attached greenhouse, where food can be grown all year. Black water is flushed out into the septic system.

The home Cameron is building will be on some family land in Wellington and will be about 800 square feet when completed.

It's an ambitious project, but it's a challenge he believes himself up to.

It's also something that the community seems willing to support, he said.

“In a way, people are hungry for this,” he said.

Although, he admits to getting more than one blank stare when he tells people what he's planning.

“When people hear you're building a home out of tires they tend to think you're pretty hippy dippy,” he said.

But hippy-ish or not, the fact remains that Earthships work as advertised, are economical and environmentally sound, he said.

His plan is to live in the first home for about a year so he can work out any flaws. If all goes well, Cameron hopes to help build more Earthships on the Island in the years ahead.

Anyone who would like to volunteer time to help build Cameron's Earthship can do so by contacting him through his Facebook page. No construction experience necessary.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the project financially can check out the Kickstarter crowdfunding page.

Cameron and his group of volunteers are asking for $5,000 to cover some costs and have earmarked 50 days to do it in. As of Tuesday, they'd raised more then $1,400.