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OS:Sterling Allan's Sustainable Home

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Here's a sketch of the home I pulled together on Dec. 18, 2009 for a French TV interview.
Here's a sketch of the home I pulled together on Dec. 18, 2009 for a French TV interview.

This home will be the first built as part of the Safe Haven Villages project, in which we are founding members.

Status: We're in planning stages for our new earthship home. Our Eagle Mountain home closed on Oct. 28, 2009, funding on Nov. 3, following which we have 45 days to identify new property, with 180 days to spend the 1031 roll-over funds.

This page is being set up to enable others to help us come up with an optimal design, given what resources and technologies are presently available.

Budget: $50,000 - $60,000 USD for materials Labor to be provided primarily by community members. Community land secured with the balance of the proceeds from the sale of our Eagle Mountain home.



See also #In the News below.


Home Plans

Fifth Draft

Image:100202 SDA bluprint 600 bf8.gif
Click here for enlarged view - Feb. 2, 2010

Fourth Draft by Quasi Architect

Dec. 26, 2009 draft.

Image:091226 Torg main-floor full 600.jpg
Click here for 1500x563 pixel version

Image:091226 Torg second-floor full 600.jpg
Click here for 1500x492 pixel version
Note: There was a wrong assumption in drawing this floor plan -- that the second floor was tapered in from the first (per an earlier design) -- but that is no longer the case. The second floor has the same size as the first. The domed arch doesn't begin unti 4 feet up on the second floor.

Third Draft

Image:091114 Allan-Home peramecium draft1 300.jpg


  • Featured: Building > Earth Bag > Sterling's Home > Blog >
    2-floor Paramecium House Plans with Split Saircase - The Hot Dot House plan was a flop, partially because of heating issues, so the pendulum swung and we began considering a more traditional -- squarish earthbag -- floor plan; but then want back to the paramecium shap but with two floors and a nice split staircase, reading loft, some bottle walls. Normal doesn't work for us. (Allan's Sustainable Home; Nov. 10, 2009)

Second Draft

Here is a second draft of a floor plan, drawn to scale. We plan to use earth bag construction as seen at Includes a rough sketch of what the home might look like.



This plan by Michael Reynolds of is what started us in our design.

More recently, we're thinking of patterning after my parent's Solar Home. We're also inspired by this "Zombie-Proof" house, which can be beutiful now, but can hunker down for 200-mph winds that might be the reality during solar storms or pole shift events.


Building Links

Catenary Vault

Cement Alternatives

Earth Bag

Renewable Energy

In addition to solar and wind, we hope to do some beta testing of more exotic clean energy technologies.


Here's a little cartoon Vincent Howell pulled together.

Image:Vincent cartoon Allan-home-energy 700.gif

  • Building > Earth Bag > Sterling's Home > Blog >
    Post 3: Vincent Powell's cartoon of our home's renewable energy layout - Vincent posted a diagram of the renewable energy components of our house design, as he understands them. It spurred some helpful dialogue as we seek to come up with something that will work and be affordable. Includes discussion on rocket stove, radiant flooring, stirling engine, battery back-up, relay switches, etc. (Allan's Sustainable Home; Nov. 7, 2009)

Solar Photovoltaic

  • SunElec - $1.98/watt for 190 thru 210 watt silicon panels. They are not UL certified so they probably won't be acceptable for grid-tied, even though they are perfectly operational.
    • "Other brands like Suntech, Evergreen, Kyocera, and REC are UL & CE certified and cost a little more but almost all the panels they advertise at this store appear to be well under $3/watt. No other store that I can find comes close to these prices, except maybe but their minimum order is at least 20 panels and I've seen some minimum orders of 320 panels." -- Vincent, Oct. 30, 2009


Possible source:

"Its best to buy the deep cycle batteries locally to avoid the shipping charges for heavy batteries." - Vincent


Possible source:


In addition to solar...

Grid Tie

We probably won't tie in, but in case we do:

Possible source:


Rainwater Capture

Sanpete County, UT, gets 10-12 inches of rain per year. The US average is 37. You need 7-8 inches / year for rainwater capture to work.

We plan to capture rain off our roof and collect it in a cistern for potable water. We'll need water shares from the county in order to do rainwater capture. We'll have a gutter system on the roof for channeling the rainwater.


We plan on having three cisterns for holding rainwater capture. One on each end of the home (E & W), and one in the middle, so that no piping gets overwhelmed during a downpoor.

We'll use at least one of the cisterns as a thermal mass storage from the solar thermal for the hot water needs of the home, including the radiant flooring.

Rainwater Purification

We'll need a system for filtering the rainwater for things like sinks and showers, and a further purification method for potable water preparation.

Radiant Flooring

We plan to use solar thermal to heat at least one of the cisterns which we'll then top off, if needed, with either a propane heater [not off-grid], or a rocket stove used to heat the home during extended cloudy days in the winter.

Compost Toilet

We may get our toilets from . On the small system, they suggest one per two people, so we would need three in our home.

Gray Water Recycling

Since we're not using flush toilets, I'm not sure what we'll be doing with the gray water, other than maybe filtering it to go on plants in the community gardens. So maybe we'll have a third cistern for holding the filtered graywater to then be either piped or hauled to the garden plots when they are built?

See Directory:Home Generation:Gray Water Recycling

Water Pumps

To pressurize the water from the cisterns for the faucets and radiant flooring.

Possible source:

Frost Prevention for Footings

We plan to back-fill the north end of the home, quite high, so frost heaving on the foundation will not be an issue there. Here's what I plan to do on the south, east, and west footers.

Image:Foundation frost protection 400.jpg

Image source: Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable... (Paperback) ~ Rob Roy; p. 56.




We'll either go with CFLs or LEDs, with maybe some DC lights.

Possible source:


Possible source:



Open to suggestions

Possible source:


Open to suggestions

Toaster Oven

Open to suggestions


Washing Machine

  • Staber Washer Model XXW2304 - "The most efficient washer available based on energy, water, and detergent usage." (- Vincent)
    • Q. can I get this local, to avoid shipping charges?


"Obviously an outside clothesline or near the stove" - Vincent

Hopefully we can do better than that. We're spoiled.

"Staber makes a drying cabinet. Built in the U.S. and more efficient than their standard dryer: [1]" - Cobalt



satellite internet has been recommended



Other Info

Community Page

Temporary Rental

Posted by Sterling D. Allan Oct. 27, 2009:

Our home closes on Oct. 28, 2009. In the mean time, while we are planning our design, finding land to build on, then building our home, we will be renting from a friend, Randy Tolbert, who is a solar installation professional (Access Solar of Mt. Pleasant, UT, USA). He has a solar guest house that he is renting to us for a very reasonable price. It will be a good interim step for us as we prepare to go the next step. It is heated by solar thermal via radiant flooring, and has a small photovoltaic system for the water pump. His home next door has the works, and is a beautiful design.

We love the radiant flooring. It's a very comfortable heat and uses less energy. The solar-heated water tank is topped off by a propane heater if needed. There are also plenty of south-facing windows to heat things up more during the day. Solar thermal is the most efficient Solar technology because much more of the sun's energy can be converted to usable energy than other forms of solar conversion such as photovoltaic.

I'm sure we'll be leaning on his knowledge in planning and building our home. And I'll have a chance to roll up my sleeves in a few solar installs with him to learn the minutia of residential solar power. Around a decade ago, Randy showed me the ropes for wiring a solar home addition my dad built (no PV).

Randy's guest house is situated northeast of Mt. Pleasant, up at the base of the mountains (Manti-La Sal National Forest) where deer and other wild animals roam routinely. It's part of a 20-some-year-old gated intentional community called "Freedom Ranch."

The move were in the middle of has been very challenging. We have collected way too much unnecessary stuff in the near five years we've been living in Eagle Mountain. We definitely need to par down and shift out of the consumerism mentality that pervades our society. This smaller, interim home will be a good chance for us to make that shift as well. If our News has been a bit sparse lately, its due to the distraction of moving.

I should mention, too, that we are not making this move in the middle of a financially strong time. We're stepping out in faith in a project that has many unknowns for us, learning and experiencing a lot of super challenging things that are pushing us to the limit. We really appreciate those of you who have been generous to donate to help keep this PES Network news and directory service running during what was already a lean time, made more so by the move and added expenses it is incurring.

In the News

See #Blog above.

  • Humor / Health >
    Wild Turkeys visit vegan's solar home - We had about 15 wild turkeys come visit the guest solar home we are renting while we build our sustainable home here in Sanpete Valley, Utah. We figure in this valley full of factory turkey facilities, these wild guys felt safe coming by our place this time of year because we are vegan. (YouTube; Nov. 24, 2009)
  • Featured: Communities >
    Utah Safe Haven, Sustainable Village Project - I'm involved with a group of people who are preparing to build an intentional community based on principles of sustainability, healthy living, natural healing, individual responsibility, cooperation, and renewable energy. In short, it is about alternative, enlightened everything. Interested? (PESWiki; July 28, 2009)


Sterling D. Allan


See also

- Other Open Source Projects
- Open Source News
- PESWiki main index
- PES Network Inc.

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