Self-building an earthship

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A three-day course run in partnership with Low Carbon Trust.

Fri 17 - Sun 19 Oct 2014 FULLY BOOKED
Go on the waiting list.

All days of the course run 9.00am - 5.00pm in Stanmer Park, Brighton.

(Click here if you would like to be notified about future runs of this course.)

This course is for anyone thinking about building their own home and anyone interested in learning about Earthships.  Includes practical workshops.

What is an Earthship?

An Earthship is a low impact building that makes use of recycled materials in its construction including over 1000 car tyres. It has passive solar heating and cooling and uses only renewable technologies. All the water used is harvested from rain-water and recycled with waste water management on site.

What will the Self building an Earthship course cover?

We will go through how a building can use the sun instead of central heating and how to build in natural, passive ventilation. We'll look at how it is possible to live off-grid. This includes how you can harvest and recycle water and an outline of the relative merits of micro-renewable technologies like solar, biomass, wind and hydro. We will look at what you need to think about when sourcing environmentally-friendly materials and how to avoid the most damaging materials.

Kevan Trott will discuss the practicalities of turning the dream into a reality: getting planning permission, building control and finances. You'll get hands-on practical experience in ramming car tyres that make up the walls of an Earthship, earth rendering, and making a glass bottle brick wall. Lastly, you'll see how all these elements come together in case studies of Earthship France (built by Kevan and Gillian Trott) and Earthship Brighton.

This course will build on the good work of Mike Reynolds and focus on adapting Earthships to the UK climate.

A taste of what you'll learn

For more videos from our Self-building an Earthship course, on topics ranging from cob rendering to rainwater harvesting, click here.

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone aged 16 or over. It is for anyone thinking about building their own home and anyone interested in learning about Earthships. It is suitable for complete beginners, as well as those who are familiar with eco-building and want to know more.

Learning outcomes

Participants will learn what needs to be considered when building an environmentally sensitive home as well as what is involved in building an Earthship. They will learn how to gain autonomy and free themselves from gas and electricity bills. They will learn basic building physics which can shed light on how all buildings work. And they will gain the knowledge and confidence to take their ideas to the next stage.

Photovoltaics course

A one-day introduction to photovoltaics course is also run in partnership with Low Carbon Trust. This course is designed to complement the Self-building an Earthship course and is normally timed to coincide with it. Find out more.

Course tutors

Rebecca Sarll is the main tutor and is a qualified trainer with an MSc in Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies (Distinction) from the Centre for Alternative Technology. She has experience in straw bale and hemp lime building as well as more conventional construction methods.

Jon Kalviac worked on Earthship Brighton and also on the Zwolle Earthship built in Holland last year. He is a regular tour guide of Earthship Brighton and has much experience of working with rammed tyres.

Mischa Hewitt was one of the project managers of Earthship Brighton, is the author of the book Earthships in Europe, and has an MSc in Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies (Distinction) from the Centre for Alternative Technology. He is a building consultant, domestic and non-domestic energy assessor, and has worked on many eco renovation projects.

Gillian Trott is a qualified teacher and facilitator with over 25 years experience in Education. She also holds a Permaculture Diploma. She co-project managed the construction of an earthship home in 2007. Following this she managed the teaching of earthship building courses in Europe such as Portugal and Glasgow. She is a regular tour guide for the Brighton Earthship.

Kevan Trott is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Chartered Environmentalist, with over 30 years construction and project management experience. He was part of the lead team which achieved planning permission for the 16 dwelling earthship development in Brighton. Kevan worked with Michael Reynolds on various global projects and in 2007 Kevan, Gillian and their family got full planning permission and built their own earthship in Normandy, France.


Stanmer Park (near University of Sussex), Brighton. Get directions to our meeting point near the church in Stanmer Park.

If you intend to book accommodation, please check availability before booking a place, as accommodation in Brighton can be hard to find, especially over the summer months.

Get details on local accommodation and Brighton Permaculture Trust supporters who can provide accommodation in their homes.


Fees include tuition, handouts, refreshments and a copy of Earthships: Building a zero carbon future.

£280 - Sponsored/organisation rate
£280 - Individual income more than 25k/yr
£235 - Individual income 18-25k/yr
£190 - Individual income less than 18k/yr
£145 - Individual, concessionary rate (please read below)

Concessionary rates are available to people in receipt of a state pension, means-tested benefits (including housing benefit, council tax benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit (income does not exceed £16,190), Carer's allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and/or Child Tax Credit), and full-time students. Please bring evidence of this to the course.

We endeavour to make our courses and events affordable to all. Unfortunately, we do not receive any external funding for most of these and rely on large amounts of voluntary input.

See the cancellations and refunds policy.

Booking the Self building an earthship course

Booking is essential, as most of our courses/events are fully booked weeks in advance. However, if places are still available, then bookings can be made until midday the day before the course. A place is not secured until we have received the requested payment.

Please do not book unless you are able to pay for your place.

Paying for your place

Please read this section carefully.

When you complete the booking process, you will receive a confirmation email from us. If you haven't received that email within the next few hours, please contact us immediately, as this email contains vital information regarding your booking.

You can pay when you book your place using a credit/debit card or PayPal, or you can tick the 'Pay later' box (in the Event Fee section), which gives you the option to pay by BACS or send us a cheque after you have booked.

If you tick the pay later box, you will have 7 days to pay for your place. Bookings that remain unpaid on our system for longer than that will expire. You will receive notification of this expiration by email. If you then decide you want to come, you will need to contact us to see if there is a still a place available for you.

If you are booking within two weeks of the course, or the course is nearly full, you will not have the option to pay later. Instead, you will need to pay immediately at the point of booking using a credit card or PayPal.

Be certain that you understand ALL the information on this page, then:
New dates will be announced soon. Meanwhile, you might wish to go on the waiting list.

Contact us

For further information or if you have problems with your registration, please contact us.

Partner Organisation

Low Carbon Trust

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What participants are saying...

  • "Rebecca and the crew are fantastic. The discussion was brilliant and Rebecca in particular was very straight forward about how it's a way of being. Her mdf shelves are a perfect example of the thought that needs to go into sustainable living."
  • "[I liked] the openness and honesty of all tutors and the sharing, the perfect atmosphere for the course."
    Brendan Mulcahy
  • "Lovely people, well-structured course, covers a really good range of issues and topics."
    Laura Lim Sam, Manchester
  • "Very approachable tutors and interactive learning environment."
    Max Bradbury, Brighton
  • "The course leaders were very good, and I very much enjoyed their style of presenting. The people attending were a good bunch, and there was a good mix of class and practical sessions. The shared lunch worked well, and the volunteers were awesome."
    Jon Wheeler
  • "It went beyond my expectations. I'm still trying to assimilate and consolidate what I learned. Need to read more, find more time to follow up the experience.... Keep up the good work!"
    Alain Stern
  • "The lecturers were all fantastic, and I loved the open mindedness to which debates and questions were tackled. I loved meeting people on similar wave lengths. Made me feel apart of a movement towards change that I wasn't seeing in my individual life so much. I felt quite blessed to have participated on a course such as this one and will take what I have learnt to build something in South Africa."
    Erica Brown
  • "Thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and went away inspired and motivated."
  • "Really good to be able to have 3 practicals, really glad to have worked with clay mortar and render. Really good to learn realistically how earthship designed and what does/doesn't work in this climate."
  • "It was mind blowing. So much info and practical learning. I loved it! The fact I came away feeling as if I could go off and build an Earthship. I didn't expect that. I expected to get an idea, but everything was covered. Every question I had prior was answered; it wasn't airy fairy."

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Brighton Permaculture Trust · Charitable company registered in England & Wales · Charity number 1150808 · Company number 4072259