Our Green Building Projects
Green building is the responsible construction practice of homes and structures that takes into consideration local environment and location as well as the resources that are to be used in the project. We have tried several different methods of green construction to find out what suits us the best at Avalon Gardens and Ecovillage. Our green housing is made to stand in harmony with the environment, to have the smallest environmental impact as possible, to efficiently uses water, energy and other resources while at the same time addressing the comfort of people and the longevity of the structures.
We've tried out several different types of eco friendly homes over the years, such as the Earthbag House — also known as a Cal Earth Dome — a Straw Bale House, Dome Homes, and Future Houses that are also known as Foam Housing. At Avalon Organic Gardens & Ecovillage in Tumacácori, Arizona we host Green Building workshops to show how these many types of eco-friendly construction methods work and can be implemented. For more information contact us at (520) 603-9932 or email Info@AvalonGardens.org
Check out our green building projects and community housing below!
The Future Houses
Our latest construction projects at Avalon Organic Gardens & Ecovillage were built using a green construction method known as "ICF" or Insulated Concrete Form. This type of green building is mainly foam boards and concrete — an unlikely combination of building materials that results in extreme strength and durability. The modularity of the foam pieces allow our designers to get very creative and to try new things, giving each completed project a special flair all its own. We have tried many construction methods over the years in search of the best sustainabile building methods, and we chose to build these future houses because they are affordable and long lasting with minimal maintenance, even in tough conditions.
Our Dome Homes are constructed as one solid piece of concrete and are made to maintain a moderate temperature even during our desert bioregion's hot summer days and cold winter nights. You may recognize this style as monolithic domes, which means that the structure is all one piece. In Greek, it literally translates to mean "one stone." At Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, we have a total of 7 monolithic domes which were built over the course of 2014 to 2016, and we have plans to build four more in the coming future. These Dome Homes are currently housing about 20 of our community members who are full-time volunteers.
We were excited to begin building our first earthbag house, which is also known as a Cal Earth Dome, a few years ago. It required a lot of work and physical strength to lift the bags to higher levels and to tamp the bags. This type of Green Building was first developed by a man in Iran named Nader Khalili, to provide an affordable way to build housing that is sustainable and earthquake-proof. The interior of the domes is limewashed giving additional protection to the surface material and creating an almost Greek-stucco aesthetic for the inhabitants.
The Straw Bale House
Our strawbale house was created some years ago to fulfill the community's need for additional housing and a rehearsal space for the choir. With a bunch of straw bales on hand, we decided to try out this popular method of green building — and had great success! The walls, almost 18-inches thick, provide great sound absorption in addition to being very highly insulating, significantly reducing the heating and cooling needs for this space. The west side of this bale house is a charming living casita and the east side houses the rehearsal space.
The Cob Oven
You might be asking, what exactly is a "cob oven?" A cob oven is made from a mixture of plain old mud, readily available from your local area, and straw or hay. Cob structures are very strong and should last for a long time if properly maintained and cared for. Our cob oven is most loved for its ability to turn out perfectly crisped artisan pizzas and rustic bread loaves baked from our heritage Sonoran and Red Fife wheat!
Here at Avalon Gardens, we practice rainwater harvesting and have several rainwater catchments in our landscaping around our homes and work areas like the barns, the auto shop and construction warehouse. Along with helping us to easily keep our gardens and living areas looking beautiful, this helps keep many of the plants around our village hydrated during the dry seasons which can last a long time. Currently, we have 13 different planting beds that utilize harvested rainwater throughout the year. This keeps the EcoVillage looking beautiful!
In an effort to become more sustainable and minimize our dependency on grid electricity we decided to harness the power of the sun — a readily available resource here in southern Arizona! Currently, we have seven solar arrays contributing to the energy needs of our thriving EcoVillage. Our solar arrays use photovoltaic cells that are installed on rooftops. These solar cells are very low maintenance and can last for many years to come.
Our Grey Water System
As an EcoVillage, we thrive on practices that promote sustainability! Water conservation is especially important in this desert region, so we recycle the grey water that comes from our laundry machines, showers, sinks and other sources. The grey water systems have been carefully planned out to irrigate and sustain many of our flower beds and other landscaping features around the gardens and EcoVillage.