I am interested in building a self-sustained and ecologically integrated house. The Earthship model is an excellent example of what I am looking at building.
However, before I proceed, I want to be sure it is the best model currently available. Is there an existing comparative study of self-sustained and ecologically integrated house? Ideally, this study should provide an overview of cost, efficiency and modularity.

Is there anything else I omitted in this question I should be considering?

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    I'm not convinced any particular model will be best for your unique situation and circumstances. Everything is a compromise. You need to mix and match the ones that are best for you. One place doing current research in this area is the Center for Regenerative Studies. Another good resource is Rocky Mountain Institute. You quite possibly know of these. I'm a distant acquaintance of the founders, so I though I'd give 'em a plug. – bcworkz Oct 13 '12 at 22:04
  • Thanks. I don't expect an absolute answer either indeed. I imagine there are compromises to make. To make a choice however, I need an intelligent and informative comparison. – Benjamin Oct 14 '12 at 6:45

There is no one best model; it's a function of where the house is located (climate, site, etc.). Something as simple as what side of a hill the house is can have a dramatic effect (does it get morning or evening sun?). Stone is a great thermal sink, but if you've got to get it trucked in from great distances, it's not environmentally friendly.

Now, I'm not going to say that they're the most envionmentally friendly, as they don't make full use of their environment (eg, building into the ground), but the U.S. Department of Energy runs a contest called the "Solar Decathalon", in which college teams bring a modular home, and are scored on various tests over a week or so. (but of course, only for a week ... not in the middle of winter, where they might not fare as well)

If you look through the entries, you can see some of the design decisions that they made to reduce their energy use. C|Net covered the 2011 competition.

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