CLIENT QUOTE: "

I wanted to give Rich another glowing report, He was AMAZING on our shoot. The most helpful driver I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely be requesting him on future shoots.

Thanks for everything guys!

" Adrienne Burton – Freelance Prod Coordinator
CLIENT QUOTE: "

Rusty, Bruce and the guys at King Kong were a crucial asset to my photoshoot.  They took a lot of stress off of my plate and came through when I needed them, allowing me to focus 100% on the production.  Without a doubt, King Kong is now my go-to for production vehicles and I do not hesitate to recommend them to my colleagues.  And, not only is Rusty the best and most helpful driver I have ever had the pleasure of working with, he is also awesome with a fog machine!

" Brett Spencer-Producer, Nastygal.com
CLIENT QUOTE: "

Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome customer service. Our driver was friendly and professional. He arrived early and had everything ready to go for us. The motorhome was clean and in perfect shape. Every detail matters on a shoot to help keep everything running smoothly. We love working with King Kong!

" Jamie Williams- That Girl Productions
CLIENT QUOTE: "

We truly enjoyed working from the Helios, the attention to detail to make it an Eco friendly asset to our industry should be commended. The quiet workspace you get when running on the solar power is delightful! Rob was pleasant to be around and always willing to help out. Thank you Rob and King Kong for bringing us the Helios!

" Rochelle Savory-Assistant Production Supervisor
CLIENT QUOTE: "

You guys did a phenomenal job with the Helios. And Rob, as always, went above and beyond for us.

" Dan Kae—Assistant Production Supervisor
CLIENT QUOTE: "
King Kong has the best equipment & drivers in the biz.
" Tom Baker – gangboss
CLIENT QUOTE: "
Thanks again for helping out with our party. The restrooms worked out great and the service was awesome as usual!
" Steve Brazeel
CLIENT QUOTE: "

We’ve used the Helios twice now and have been quite impressed each time.  It has everything production could want AND it’s earth friendly! We will use the Helios on every job in which we need a moho.

" Mario D’Amici—Production Coordinator, Beef Films
CLIENT QUOTE: "

I just wanted to send you a quick message and let you know how amazing Rich is. I have hired motos from all over and this was by far our best experience. Really nice to work with great people

" Crystal Raymond- Chinese Laundry
CLIENT QUOTE: "

The drivers were awesome to be with.  Hard working drivers!!   It really stands out when the drivers jump in to help set up base camp, and tear it down.  Not to mention always having a fresh green tea for me just when I needed it every time.  They really were great and I’d ask for them anytime we get vehicles from you. Thanks!

" Mary Brooks – 3 Star Productions
CLIENT QUOTE: "

The Helios is a great motorhome. Not only is it energy efficient but it offers a large space for production to work in. The copy machine is great because you can wirelessly print and make color copies and send faxes. The satellite phones came in handy when we realized we didn’t have any cell service on location. We received several compliments throughout the shoot day. Crew walked into the motorhome in awe of such a beautiful space.

" Courtney Witherspoon-Production Coordinator Three One O
CLIENT QUOTE: "

King Kong has great motorhomes and the best drivers in the business. Working with you guys is always easy and a pleasure.

" Cat Burkley-Portfolio One
CLIENT QUOTE: "

You guys are the BEST!

" Marie D’Amore—Production Supervisor, HSI
CLIENT QUOTE: "

King Kong… top notch service, incredible drivers, clean, well equipped vehicles, on time—every time! Thanks guys…. you ROCK!!!

" Elaine Lee—Producer 5th and Sunset Los Angeles
CLIENT QUOTE: "

North Six has been working with King Kong for many years now.  Not only is their customer service unparalleled, but their fleet of motorhomes is always clean, reliable, and exactly what we need to support our photo productions.

" Kyd Kisvarday—Producer, North 6
CLIENT QUOTE: "

Thank you so much for lovely Eko lav — definitely the nicest port-a-potty I’ve ever used!

" Amanda – Producer
CLIENT QUOTE: "

…the moho was super nice, everything was great! I will definitely rent it again!!

" Susan Borbely – Prod Coordinator

Earthship homes: Living off the grid

Rural Virginia seemed an unlikely place for a green dream, as Melina Winterton and Larry Peck discovered when they told contractors they wanted to build an earthship.

“You want to do what?” was the common reply.

“They thought we were building a garage at first,” Winterton says.

No, they were building a home. But this wasn’t something out of science fiction.

Earthship homes, the creation of architect Mike Reynolds, have been around since the 1970s. Typically they’re solar-heated buildings constructed of tires that recycle water and are off the electric grid.

“They are becoming increasingly mainstream because everyone is becoming more aware of climate change and dwindling resources,” says Reynolds, the founder of Earthship Biotecture based in Taos, N.M. “This is something that actually works and does not need fossil fuels.”

There are about 2,000 earthships around the world, Reynolds says. Events such as 2012’s Superstorm Sandy illustrate the advantages of not being dependent on a traditional electric power grid. “We now have a client in midtown Manhattan,” he says. “It’s our first in a major city.”

As well as saving energy, homes with contained sewage treatment have the potential to solve pollution problems facing a number of U.S. cities, Reynolds says.

Many of his ideas are being used in more mainstream homes, particularly in the western U.S., which gets more sunlight to power homes.

Reynolds is a pioneer to Julee Herdt, a professor of architecture at the University of Colorado. “Mike Reynolds got people thinking of new ways of doing things,” says Herdt. “It’s good if you start extreme.”

Herdt also has developed homes made of bio-materials. Her Boulder, Colo., homes use 70 percent less energy than traditional homes. Solar power is popular in Boulder because it means lights remain on during power outages.

In contrast, the eastern U.S. is behind when it comes to sustainable homes, something Peck and Winterton, who have since moved to California, learned.

$200,000 to complete

An earthship home was a natural progression of an ecological lifestyle for Winterton. She is from a family of Greek farmers for whom sustainability and living off the land is a way of life. “We were composting before composting was cool,” she says.

In suburban Silver Spring, Md., the family grew produce and kept bees in the backyard. When Winterton moved from Maryland to Virginia to be with Larry, they wanted to live “off grid” and considered geodesic domes and yurts before opting for an earthship.

“We wanted to live near a lot of wilderness,” Winterton says. “That was important to us. We had little children and animals.”

Undeterred by skeptical contractors, unsympathetic banks and local regulations, the married couple built their earthship in Suffolk, Va., near the Great Dismal Swamp. It was the first permitted earthship home in Virginia.

They initially hired a contractor in 2003 but parted company because of a late delivery and did the rest of the work themselves, occupying the home in 2004 as they continued to work. “The contractor thought it was some kind of joke,” Peck says. “It was hard to find people understanding the vision of what we were trying to do.”

It took nearly five years and more than $200,000 to complete the 1,600-square-foot earthship and install windows, floor tiles from surplus pieces of granite, the 800-square-foot greenhouse, the indoor greenhouse planter, the porch, the green roof with its rainwater system and the kitchen with a sink salvaged from a restaurant.

The couple couldn’t get a mortgage with rainwater as the sole water supply; when they added a well, they obtained a mortgage.

There were other concessions: The local health department wouldn’t allow blackwater planters that use toilet water, so the earthship has a traditional septic system. Blackwater from the septic field was used to grow hay that fed chickens.

The earthship ended up being more mainstream than traditional earthship homes because of compromises to meet local regulations. For example, concrete was used instead of tires to comply with local building codes. And the home is “bermed,” ­packed with earth on three sides. Reynolds’ company offered design input, including advice to install the south side gallery of windows to maximize sunlight.

Rainwater was collected on the roof and stored in cisterns. A solar heater provided hot water. Grey water from the appliances and sinks was used in the greenhouse’s indoor garden.

Insulation provided by the berms, sunlight and a wood burner kept the house from getting cold, even in winter. The coldest the house ever got was 63 degrees, Peck says.

Summer in Virginia was another story. One day the temperature rose to more than 100 degrees and they “broke down,” in Peck’s words. They added air conditioning. The earthship was connected to the grid from the outset to power some appliances. But even with air conditioning, the family kept power bills to $100 per month. Earthship dwellers typically pay no utility bills.

The house was wired for a grid-intertie, which can connect solar systems to the electric grid and feed back excess energy. But the costs prevented the family from moving forward with the system.

Earthships can now be kept cooler by using air vents combined with angled windows to maximize the sun’s energy in the winter and keep out intense rays in the summer, says Reynolds.

From earthship to California

Feeling that Virginia was not geared to sustainable homes, Peck and Winterton moved to Berkeley, Calif., in November 2010 to live a car-free lifestyle. “We were green, living in the country in the conservative South. There was not a lot of support,” Peck says. “We were tired of being a light in the darkness.”

Today the Virginia earthship home is rented and also on the market for $350,000. Winterton says its selling points include low utility bills ($100 a month) and no water bill, beautiful views and a greenhouse that’s 80 degrees and warm on the coldest days.

The couple didn’t install solar panels in Virginia, but their new home in Berkeley will be solar-powered. California provides more financial incentives for solar panels than Virginia. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 12 energy companies or localities offer rebate programs for renewable energy in Virginia. That compares to more than 100 in California and 50 each in Colorado and Oregon.

The couple’s biggest regret is not hiring an architect in Virginia. Winterton says an earthship could be better built using Reynolds’ plans and a contractor. At times she misses the home, which she believes is a realistic sustainable-living model for families.

“You don’t have to be living in a tent eating tofu to be environmentally friendly,” she says. “The house was a calendar and clock. … We could tell what day and month it was by how far into the house the sun would come. That was awesome. It was like living in a sundial.”

BUILDING AN EARTHSHIP

Earthship homes are designed to be fully sustainable and use natural and recycled building materials (tires, bottles, stucco, etc.).

What to consider

 

  • Compromises on materials might be required to meet local building codes.
  • Each state and the District of Columbia use the International Building Code but local bodies handle approvals differently. For example, an alternative method approved in New Mexico applies statewide. But in Colorado each county has the authority to interpret alternative methods.
  • Local deed restrictions may not permit earthship structures.
  • Banks are often unwilling to lend money for earthships. Earthship Biotecture recommends shorter-term loans: personal loans, small business loans and lines of credit.
  • Earthship Biotecture homes range in cost from the Simple Survival Earthship for $25,000 to the Phoenix Earthship at $1.5 million.

 

Source: Earthship Biotecture (earthship.com)

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