Earthship Puerto Rico: Sustainable Housing Built with Recycled Materials

We interviewed Carlos Chapparo, as he takes us on a guided tour of Earthship Puerto Rico.


To keep it simple, Earthships are off-grid homes that are built using recycled materials and are designed to be self-sufficient — using natural systems for heating, cooling, electricity, and water collection and filtration.

Back in the 1970’s, to feel “safe in an unsafe place” is what prompted American architect Michael Reynolds to create a sustainable housing model known internationally as Earthship. The driving force behind the concept of Earthship was to create structures which could survive any natural phenomenon.

Earthship Puerto Rico is a sustainable housing project launched in February 2018 in Aguada, PR. Spearheaded by local couple Lauralina Melendez and Mario Atunes (alongside the leadership of Michael Reynolds and Phil Baseheart from Earthship Biostructures), the program is now maintained by Carlos Chaparro and his family. This community was built after the devastation of Hurricane María, and has been fully constructed based on Earthship’s 6 principles:

  1. They collect their own water
  2. They produce their own energy
  3. They grow their own food
  4. They control their own waste
  5. They control their own temperature
  6. They use 50% or more recycled materials in construction

The construction of the structure is such that it’s not only self-sustainable, but has also been designed to withstand the island’s intense atmospheric events. The team of passionate environmentalists and builders that dedicated themselves to creating sustainable, self-sufficient communities that can thrive in harmony with nature, had a mission to bring the revolutionary Earthship design to Puerto Rico. Through their efforts, they desired to empower individuals and families to adapt a more sustainable lifestyle.

We believe that by sharing our knowledge and experience, we can inspire others to join us in creating a more sustainable future.” – the Earthship PR Team

Their approach was to get together with locals and foreigners to create and autonomous and self-reliant community center that served as a shelter in future natural disasters.

According to Earthship Puerto Rico…

“All Earthships embody six basic design principles. The buildings harvest rainwater, utilize solar electricity, are constructed using repurposed materials, heat and cool passively, contain all sewage, and provide food. This provides independence from often unreliable corporate and government entities.”

In addition to building homes, Earthship Puerto Rico also offers educational workshops regarding the ins and outs of beekeeping, and tours to help spread the word about Earthships and the benefits of sustainable living.

“We believe that by living in harmony with the natural world, we can reduce our impact on the environment and create a more sustainable future for all. That’s why we are committed to using only eco-friendly materials and techniques in the construction of our Earthships.”

Funding for this project has been possible through financial donations, material donations and countless individuals and hours of their volunteered time. To find out more or to donate, visit their site here.