First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture is a new documentary which re-frames the issue of green housing in a very important light. By examining earth-building techniques all around the world, from North America and the UK to Africa, Thailand and the Middle East, they made a case for “green building” techniques which are beautiful, long-lasting, cost-effective and sustainable.

By examining building issues from the standpoint of the massive amount of our energy and resources which we devote to them (40%), they demonstrate that energy-efficient homes can often be built entirely with amateur labour and on-site materials. They view enormous buildings “as old as Genesis” in Yemen and visit cob builders who’ve been invited to see the Queen for their work in heritage preservation in Britain. Others are involved in maintaining traditional indigenous skills, or helping third-worlders escape from the crushing economic and ecological consequences of concrete and cement.

There’s no one right way to build a green house. Some use sun-dried mudbricks and thick mucky cob, others use “earthbags” or old tires packed with dirt. It can be done with heavy machinery or with nothing but hands and feet. The principles behind it are far more important – the use of local materials and resources like earth, sunlight, ground temperatures and other nearby materials to create homes which liberate those who live in them from both the financial and environmental consequences of plywood, drywall and cul-de-sacs.

They’re putting the film online for free, in 12 “beta” chapters on youtube, but also have a high-quality DVD version available for purchase.