Earthships multiply in Comox Valley

Since landing on Denman Island in 2012, Earthships are beginning to multiply across the Comox Valley.

Since landing on Denman Island in 2012, Earthships are beginning to multiply across the Comox Valley.

Local builder Ed Wishart and engineer Ted Burch have been working with the Comox Valley Regional District to get permission to build these innovative structures in Fanny Bay and Merville as well as Denman Island and they have plenty of opportunities for others get involved.

“This form of construction is finding its way into the mainstream,” says Wishart. “For example, the Building Officials Association of BC is hosting a presentation on the construction technique at their AGM this year. The regional district has also been supportive of our projects which we take as a very good sign.”

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house made of natural and recycled materials. Earth-filled tires form the primary structure and provide thermal mass to naturally regulate indoor temperature in both summer and winter conditions.

Worn, discarded car tires are filled with dirt to 95 per cent compaction and erected like conventional bricks. Earthships are generally off-the-grid homes, minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They also generally cost less to build and maintain than conventional housing and could provide a source of affordable housing.

“Earthship technology continues to evolve, some of which we’re pioneering right here in the Comox Valley,” continues Burch. “We have a patent pending for a roofing system that will provide an R-80 rating in a three-inch lightweight reflective material. Next, we’ll be testing the lateral movement of the earth-filled tires to determine how strong these structures are.”

To highlight the benefits of Earthships, learn more about their local application and how to get involved in building them, including getting involved in local internship mentoring opportunities, Transition Town Comox Valley will host the film Garbage Warrior on May 15 from 7:30 to 9:30 at Joe’s Garage in downtown Courtenay.

Garbage Warrior is a 2007 documentary about architect Mike Reynolds, inventor of the Earthship style of building, directed by Oliver Hodge.

Ed and Ted will also host a demonstration of the compacted tire strength test May 17 at 1 p.m. at 4390 Cougar Smith Rd. in Fanny Bay. For more information, contact Ed Wishart at 250-218-4098 or

Transition Towns are a worldwide movement, and community-led initiative, to prepare individuals and communities for a world with less fossil energy, a changing climate and decreased economic security, which may be viewed as longer-term emergencies. A $3 donation is requested to cover the cost of the venue.

For more information, visit or call 250-898-9045.

— Transition Town Comox Valley

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