Goal For The Green

Para-education and green living information

“Dirt” Cheap – Eco Domes!

Feb-14-2009 By Barbara Zak

Before he passed away last year, architect and founder of Cal-Earth, Nader Khalili, had created a futuristic housing movement.  He had prototyped his dome-shaped adobes, or “moon-cocoons” on a commission  from NASA  for a lunar colony.  Then he realized that they could take root here on earth…and that they have!

Most of us go to work to be able to pay off our mortgage on our house.  At the same time, we are unaware of the damage to both our health and nature, caused by conventional construction methods.

The first thing to do if we want to create a sustainable building is to eliminate the use of any toxins.  Eco-Domes are built using the earth itself as material.  They use a special sandbag (local earth) and barbed-wire technology called SuperAdobe.  No chemicals or toxins are used, just lime stabilized in the bags, and sometimes cement is added in wetter climates, but is certainly not necessary.  The end result, is a very pretty and stable house that meets California’s strict earthquake requirements.

Built with the sun, wind and shade in mind for passive heating and cooling, you will want to consider the possiblity of installing a solar photovoltaic system and perhaps a small hydro installation, if you don’t have a stream nearby.

There is no greater respect you can show for yourself and for nature, than by building a sustainable building with your own two hands.  While most of the Ec0- domes are 400 or 800 square feet, they can be joined together for a larger dwelling.  They also have a 2,000 sq. ft. model that can be built for $3,000 worth of bags and barbed-wire! Cal-Earth is a non-profit organization that offers workshops teaching you how to build your  house, out of SuperAdobe with a team of 3-5 people in a week!

With the main building material being earth, the simplicity of the SuperAdobe technique, allows for the possibility to quickly build emergency shelters, whenever and wherever they are need anywhere in the world. Most recently, a team from Cal-Earth has gone to Darfur, to help rebuild the damage and devastation to villages there.

  1. Kaushik Said,

    Its a great concept specially when we’re loosing green.Though we’re owing this concept traditionally of building an eco-friendly homes or huts in Indian villages for centuries. These are like natural air-conditioned huts.

  2. CyberCelt Said,

    This is a great idea. I love that they are going to Darfur to help. I am going to link to this post if that’s okay with you. Have a green Valentine’s Day.

    CyberCelts last blog post..Shop With Environmental Consciousness

  3. Mark Said,

    Excellent concept. I’m going to buy the book and DVD and perhaps take the course at some time in the future for a holiday. I wonder how waterproof the structure can be made. It would be interesting to see the neighbours’ faces if I replaced the garden shed which is getting old with one of these.

    It looks like a small shelter version would cost about the same as an average garden shed. It would be much more interesting though. Not sure how burglar proof one would be as you could probably dig through the wall easy enough, but then how secure is a garden shed.

  4. Barbara Said,

    Hi Kaushik,

    yes, I agree with you. These are a great way to provide a home and shelter anywhere in the world.

  5. Barbara Said,

    Hi CyberCelt,

    Of course…go ahead and link up. This idea could provide shelter and hope for
    those that have been left homeless and devastated by the recent Australian fires too!

  6. Barbara Said,

    Hi Mark,

    I’m sure your neighbor’s would be interested and maybe even follow your example. Don’t forget there is barbed-wire, and cement can be added for extra weather proofing. So, they can be made to be very sturdy.

  7. Wind Said,

    I lived in an adobe house (not superadobe, only adobe) when I lived in New Mexico and I loved it! Becoming completely self-sustaining is a goal that I’m working towards, myself, thanks for the great information!


    p.s. (you can delete this part if you like) I nominated your blog for the lemonade award. You can check it out on http://winddanncer.today.com

    Winds last blog post..What? Me? The Lemonade Award?

  8. Barbara Said,

    Hi Wind,

    Thanks so much for the comment and the award!

  9. Julie Said,

    My husband would build and live in one of those in a heartbeat!

    Julies last blog post..Pledge Fabric Sweeper Review and Giveaway

  10. Barbara Said,

    Hi Julie,

    I think the are beautiful. If I ever live in a dome again..it would be one like this!

  11. An RV That’s “GREEN”!!! Said,

    [...] “Dirt” Cheap – Eco Domes! | Goal For The Green Built with the sun, wind and shade in mind for passive heating and cooling, you will want to consider the possiblity of installing a solar photovoltaic system and perhaps a small hydro installation, if you don’t have a stream nearby. [...]

  12. Karen Sloan Said,

    This is a great post, Barbara. I think eco domes are certainly a viable commodity for country’s that are experiencing famine, war, and the likes.
    Besides, domes are beautiful!

  13. Barbara Said,

    Hello, to An RV That’s “Green”…Thanks for the ping!

  14. Barbara Said,

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for the wonderful comment…and I agree with all you say here!

  15. Linda Said,

    I like it ! Just takes time and dirt!

  16. CyberCelt Said,

    Hi, Barbara:

    I have posted one article here:


    I am going to wait a day or so and I will link from Endangered Spaces.

    I love it… Little adobe houses for you and me.

  17. corrin Said,

    While not to the same extent, we have a few dome houses in our area. Unfortunately they are uglier than sin, which is a fair trade-off if they are sustainable, but I’m not sure they are.

  18. LadyGrace Said,

    Funny, before I even watched the video I rememebered a house about 20 minutes away. I told my mum just now that it is built under the sand. There is a dome shape and the house is under it. Maybe it is one of these houses??
    That is just awesome!! I want one lol

  19. Sam Servedio Said,

    That is really cool. Plus it will work anywhere in the world.

    Sam Servedios last blog post..Call Me – Recommendations From A 25 Year Old Retiree

  20. Sadie Said,

    It’s neat. Both futuristic and yet so simple and earthen at the same time. Interesting.

    Sadies last blog post..Healthy Relationships

  21. Karen Said,

    Wow, I think they are beautiful.

  22. vein Said,

    I would love to have a house like that. I do wonder how they hold up to rain though….

  23. Christina thecoffeelady Said,

    I am ready…. sign me up…. eco domes all the way!

    Christina thecoffeeladys last blog post..Fun Fun Fun…..

  24. Barbara Said,

    Hi Linda,

    Yup…you are absolutely right…time and dirt!

  25. Barbara Said,

    Hi CyberCelt,

    Thank-You..Thank-You for helping me get the word out about these eco-domes!

  26. Barbara Said,

    Hi Corrin,

    Well, some people don’t find their looks too appealing. I think these are very earthy and nice looking. The price is definitely right!

  27. Barbara Said,

    Hi Lady Grace,

    It may not be one of these, but there are some underground or earth birm houses, that are both interesting and beautiful.

  28. Barbara Said,

    Hi Sam,

    Yes…there is dirt everywhere…so anyone can have an eco dome!

  29. Barbara Said,

    Hi Sadie,

    Yes…that is what I like about them…simple and futuristic!

  30. Barbara Said,

    Hi Karen,

    Yes…I think they have a simple beauty…and they are green all the way!

  31. Barbara Said,

    Hi vein,

    Cement can be added to the mix with the dirt. So, I think that would solve the rain problem. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

  32. Barbara Said,

    Hi Christina,

    I really hope we see a lot more of these. I think they are here to stay… and no mortgage to worry about!

  33. daria369 Said,

    Awesome, I wonder if I could find one near to go see what it feels like to be inside the dome-shaped home. I am all for that kind of creative and green ideas – an outstanding post, thank you!!! :)

    daria369s last blog post..Incandescent versus saving

  34. Barbara Said,

    Hi Daria,

    Thanks for your comment…I’m sure there may be a way to find out if there is one somewhere in you area. I will see what I can find out!

  35. Heather in Beautiful BC Said,

    What an amazing concept. I love the name, moon cocoon! I can imagine how wonderful it would be to build one of these with your own hands – what a feeling of accomplishment that would bring :)

    Heather in Beautiful BCs last blog post..Enter to be a Vancouver Winter Olympic Torchbearer

  36. Owen Said,

    It’s a great idea, but I’m not 100% sure I’d want to live in one. I mean, they sound fairly sturdy, but it might still feel like you’re living underground.

    Owens last blog post..Isle of Man Social Media Club – February 2009

  37. Scott Said,

    Not sure I am ready to live in one but they are neat.

  38. Barbara Said,

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for stopping by. They aren’t for everyone, but they are affordable and a great alternative…and they are green!

  39. Connie Said,

    I grew up in a basement apartment and the Eco-Dome looks even more open than that. What a fantastic opportunity for people who can’t afford “regular” homes!

    Connies last blog post..Contests and Giveaways 2/18/09

  40. Barbara Said,

    Hi Connie,

    I know what you mean. I also grew up in not more than 800 sq feet. I think this is a great opportunity even if you can afford more. Who wants a mortgage these days?

  41. Barbara Said,

    Hi Heather,

    Yes, I think there is much to be said about building your home yourself. I think you love and appreciate it even more for the effort it took to accomplish the goal. :) For some reason, they kinda remind me of a bee hive…but one I would love to be around.

  42. Barbara Said,

    Hi Owen,

    They may not appeal to everyone…but the idea and affordability is a huge plus. From pictures I looked at, it appears as though they can be painted on the inside, if you just aren’t into the adobe look.

  43. Diane Scott Said,

    Honestly I’ll say WHEN not IF the housing market recovers, I’m selling and building one of these! 2000 sq feet for 3000 dollars omg! Why didn’t I know about these before? Years before?!?

    Diane Scotts last blog post..Twitter Let Us Count The Ways To Stay In Touch

  44. Barbara Said,

    Hi Diane,

    Yes, I think they are beautiful. I’m sure there could be more expense involved on building the larger version, when you figure the extras windows, doors..perhaps radiant heat in the floor along with solar…but still conservatively, I think it could be done for under 10K. What a deal!

  45. Samantha & Mr, Tigger Said,

    That is pretty cool! And the price is certainly right!! Thanks for sharing!
    Your FL furiends,

    Samantha & Mr, Tiggers last blog post..Friday Note from Samantha

  46. Barbara Said,

    Hi Samantha and Mr. Tigger,

    Thanks for stopping by..glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  47. Tom Waits Said,

    I would live in the eco-dome! Not only would you save money but you could be the only one in your circle of friends to own one! What a neat idea!

    Tom W.
    .-= Tom Waits´s last blog ..Lift and Tilt Table =-.

  48. Barbara Rae Said,

    @ Tom Waits,

    The eco-dome is my current favorite. But, I would live in any dome again in a minute. There is such a sense of serenity and oneness with the Earth. And yes, they are a great topic of conversation! :)

  49. Sergio Said,

    What a great concept.. I am going to build one in the Seattle area .. does anyone know how easy town permits are for the eco home?

  50. admin Said,

    @ Sergio,

    I’m not sure, but check with King county. Sometimes things are different, if you are inside city limits. Often times things are easier, in more rural areas. Congratulations on your new green effort. Let me know, when you have it finished! :)

  51. Rose vd Merwe Said,

    Would love to buy one and live in it with my family…..

  52. Barbara Said,

    @ Rose vd Merwe,

    Aren’t they wonderful. There is a simple natural beauty to them. Come back and visit
    again. There is contact info in that post, for plans and info. Thanks for visiting
    and commenting.

  53. Jay Wadsworth Said,

    I was wondering if you could build one in Florida, I live in the Sarasota area

  54. Barbara Said,

    @ Jay Wadsworth

    Yes, your area and places in the South, are good places to build domes. I have several other articles here,
    that you may be interested in, as far as manufacturers’ go. So,if you have time come back and research
    here, in the search box (domes). There are many beautiful and roomy ones to choose from.