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These are all photos from past solar and housing projects. Enjoy!

Topics below include:

Solar water distiller projects
Composting toilets
Papercrete (fibercrete)
Straw bale houses
Alternative construction

Solar Water Distiller Projects

Sharon Eby was Project Manager for EPSEA (El Paso Solar Energy Association) in 2000-2003 and installed over 100 solar water distillers in west TX, southern NM, and Colonias in Anapra and south Juarez, Mexico.

columbus nm

Solar still

solar still layers

Cutaway view of solar distiller

solar distiller workshop

Solar still workshop

solar still

Mike Cormier with cameraman

community solar water distillation project

Sharon teaching about solar distillers

solar still in mexico

Solar distiller recipient

solar still install

Solar distiller in Anapra, Mexico

distill solar water

Homemade solar distiller

How to Make a Solar Water Distiller (free info and links for kits and construction plans)

Supporting article on past projects:

BorderPACT/CONAHEC Solar Distiller Project Report with water issues tables, photos, project details:

Foster, R., SWTDI New Mexico State University, Amos, W., SolAqua, Inc. and Eby, S., El Paso Solar Energy Association, 2005: Ten Years of Solar Distillation Application Along the U.S.-Mexico Border

Gupta, B., Vogel, G., Amos, W., and Cormier, M., SolAqua, Inc. and Eby-Martin, S., and Foster, R., El Paso Solar Energy Association, 2003: Solar Distillation Applied in Texas

Eby-Martin, S., and Tirres, A., El Paso Solar Energy Association, and Foster, R., SWTDI New Mexico State University, 2002. Solar Water Purification for the Border: EPA Grant for Solar Distillation, PDF version final pres.ppt

Eby-Martin, S., El Paso Solar Energy Association, and Foster, R., SWTDI New Mexico State University, 2001. Solar Water Purification for the Border: Solar Distillation, PDF version

Eby-Martin, S., El Paso Solar Energy Association, and Foster, R., SWTDI New Mexico State University, March, 2001. Targeting Drinking Water in Border Colonias: A Solar Still Development Resource url: 3/Region 3B (English).htm

Solar Ovens

solar cookers

Four styles of solar ovens



Solar ovens are easy to make. They can also be made out of recycled materials like cardboard and school glue rather inexpensively. See my page for more info on solar ovens and to download the solar cookers free ebook.

Composting Toilets

CERM (Center for Environmental Resource Management) at UTEP in El Paso, Texas was in charge of a composting toilet (some of them with solar design).  A large composting toilet (CT) also is located at Tom Mays park in the Franklin Mountains, El Paso (no picture). We made and used a CT at the straw bale house we built in Nebraska, too, but the only picture of it (with my little son sitting on it at age four) is in the book: Composting Toilet System Book, The Paperback – Apr 1 1999 by David Del Porto (Author)


Solar composting toilet

compost toilet

Composting toilet with urine diverstion

composter toilet

Cinderblock toilet

waste removal

CT doors for compost removal

Papercrete (fibercrete) with Mike McCain

In the early 2000’s when I was learning about dome homes and newer methods for construction I got to meet Mike McCain. Mike was one of the “Papercrete Guru’s” for alternative fibercrete (recycled paper and cement) construction methods.

papercrete frame

Papercrete cube room

blocks of papercrete

Mike McCain laying papercrete blocks


Laying semi-green blocks

how to

Stacking more blocks

making papercrete

Metal lathe on homemade wheelbarrow for drainage

papercrete forms

Dumping papercrete into forms


Fill the form

forming papercrete

Making papercrete panels

how to

Long block forms

cure papercrete blocks

2 weeks minimum to cure

Straw Bale Houses

Tierra Madre is the Straw Bale housing community (sweat equity homes) in the Sunland Park, NM area

loose straw

Packing straw in

straw bale community

Tierre Madre community

post and beam construction

Best way to build – post and beam

trimming bales

Cutting straw bales

sharon buydens

Newspaper photo of my straw bale house

Our Straw Bale home in Nebraska is the one in the black and white newspaper photo. We built it in the 1990’s and sold it in 1999 to a friend who still owns it today and lives there. The walls were R-50 and it included passive solar house plans for the design and layout, which also included earthtubes for passive cooling. Our only heat was a wood stove, which we also used as a backup to the water heater. We had a composting toilet, greywater system (later a septic tank was installed), and alternative foundation (green treated lumber and gravel) on the house. The wall systems were compression-tension walls, which had 1/2″ steel allthread running through the walls that connected the foundation to the roof plate.


Alternative Construction with Tires, Bottles, Fidobe, etc.

These locations range from Columbus to Taos, NM, etc.

Tire house

Tire roof on passive solar home

ways to recycle tires

Recycling tires for playground

fun with tires

Tire playground

shed from cans and bottles

Bottles and cans building

recycled house

House from recycled materials

colored bottles

Hallways of bottles

tire construction

Earthship made from tires

build with bottles

Entryway to earthship

passive solar house

Windows facing solar south

heating passively

Passive solar heating

One of the easiest ways to save up to 60% of the cost of heating a home is via passive solar home design. Cooling a house using earth-sheltered design and earthtubes is also excellent due to the stable temperatures of the earth.

My free ebook for download on Kindle is through Amazon’s Kindleunlimited membership, which covers passive solar home design, how to make earthtubes, a storm shelter, hurricane proof and tornado resistant homes, solar and wind power, how to make a solar oven, and how to make a solar water distiller.

The paperback version and full description of the book is also available here.

I am currently revamping my solar book above and will be making new and improved versions for free PDF download access as this year continues. Join our newsletter on the right hand column to receive updates so you can get your free copies as they come available!

Sharon Buydens

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