Sustainable

Looking for a comparison of sustainable home types for a fledgling eco-agricultural community (for lack of a better term)

I have a friend who has come into possession of some land. What he would like to do is attract some like minds to come there and create a small agricultural collective for people who want to live green and sustainably (if not off-grid then with minimal grid dependence), growing food, and learning in order to educate others on the viability of such a lifestyle. I guess it's in the nature of an experimental community – self sustaining, with the ability to explore what works and what doesn't.

Right now I'm helping to look into the different styles of single-family homes that might be built. I realize zoning is always a factor but without knowing what the zoning laws there are yet, I'm just trying to look into each type of house on its own merit and whittle down the options later. Unfortunately the internet is chock full of information praising these types of houses but it can be hard to get a sense of the true pros/cons of building and living in these types of homes.

Right now I'm interested in: geodesic dome houses, earthships, tiny houses, shipping container houses, passive houses, cob, strawbale, rammed-earth houses. Factors I'd like to compare:

  • Average cost (and time it takes) to build one

  • DIY-ability (can it be constructed without professional contractors)

  • Can they be integrated with modern (green) appliances?

  • Can it be completely off-grid? If not, what is the average cost in energy per year?

  • Realistically, can they be lived in year-round without people feeling like the Flintstones?

I'm sure there are four billion things I'm not taking into consideration, but I'd appreciate being pointed in any direction I can get information to pass along. Basically if we have plenty of space and time but not a ton of money (to start), what would be the simplest, most energy efficient type to start with?

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