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Could earthships be the future of housing?

A fully sustainable, green, off-the-grid housing design is slowly winning over forward-thinkers in the Southwest and beyond.

An earthship is an entirely off-the-grid, fully sustainable house that can keep a steady inside temperature regardless of how hot or cold it is outside. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

TAOS, N.M.--I really want one of these.

These are earthships, a form of entirely off-the-grid, fully sustainable houses that are made from natural and recycled materials, and which can provide a family with a steady, comfortable interior temperature regardless of how hot or cold it is outside.

I've come to visit the Earthship Biotecture world headquarters near Taos, and have come ready to be impressed. I'm as into green technology and architecture as the next guy, and what I'd read had me expecting an introduction to a form of housing that is self-sufficient, affordable and attractive, all at the same time.

And that's just what I got. And more. The buildings are really interesting to look at, not least because there are plants everywhere, since including greenhouses in every earthship is a major component of the concept.

I'd come as part of Road Trip 2007, my search for the best science- and technology-related destinations in the Southwest. And this definitely counts. I plan to post a full story and gallery on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that. But in the meantime, I want to make it clear that while earthships aren't the immediate solution for all communities--cities, in particular, are likely to resist this kind of off-the-grid thinking--for many, they are.

I heartily recommend checking out earthships' site and thinking about how one of these buildings could fit into your future.

The infrastructure of an earthship includes walls built of tires packed with dirt. The tires, which can weigh 350 pounds, provide thermal mass, which stores heat. Daniel Terdiman/CNET