Do Earthship Prices Include a Green Premium?


Solar panels are set to become as big a house selling point as fancy kitchens or outdoor fire pits, according to newly released research from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL). They found that – based on an average sized solar PV system – homes sold for a $17,000 premium when they had solar PV installed. The effect was more pronounced for older than for newer homes, maybe because some newer homes have installed the offerings as standard rather than optional features. It’s an important piece of research as homeowners frequently cite the uncertain impact on resale value as one of their rationales for being skittish about installing solar panels.

When a new earthship sale listing popped up this week, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at whether they also command a premium for their ‘green’ credentials. To this end, I took the average price for property in the zip code – 87571- that contains both the Greater World Community and a number of “regular” home listings. Right now, the average listing price per square foot for single family homes in the zip code is $199/ft2 (the figures are from Zillow). There are 189 homes for sale. John Kejr – the real estate broker with the most earthship experience – presently has 10 earthship listings, of which I excluded one as it is an unfinished house. These range from an adorable domed studio listed at under $75k to a sumptuous 5,000 ft2 3 bed at $1.5mn; I’ve plotted them in the scatter graph opposite. On average, they’re listed at $191/ft2, or 4% below that of the “regular” homes, despite having larger plot sizes and lower utility bills. Given the ridiculously small sample size, the data is of course not statistically significant, but it’s an interesting snapshot nonetheless.

LBNL’s data looked at 192k Californian home sales over an 8½ year (mid 2000-2009) time period, and it would be helpful to replicate this kind of time series data set – albeit on a smaller scale – for earthships over time. If we were able to better understand the sales characteristics of “fully green” homes in the way that LBNL’s research has allowed us to understand that of “partially green” homes, we’d knock out one of the larger uncertainties about owing an earthship.

About Earthship Biotecture

Earthship construction drawings are designed to meet standard building code requirements so you can get a permit no matter where you are. Earthship Biotecture is beyond LEED Architecture. Earthships are green buildings that meet standard building codes. EarthshipBiotecture is based on the work of principal architect, Michael Reynolds. (see: media resume)

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