With our global emphasis on green and sustainable living, many people are actively doing their part to engage in “green acts”. Whether its recycling, toting reusable grocery bags, there are a number of ways to engage yourself in balanced living
Several decades ago, a few creative thinkers started redefining the traditional idea of home. From coast to coast, people started looking at their environment and began building with eco-inspired homes.
Did you know that moving house can be one of the most stressful times in your life? Its right up there with losing your job, divorce or the death of a loved one, as one of the biggest causes of stress.
With much green talk amongst industries and households, eco industry watchers are saying the world has officially entered an emerging green economy – a trend that will only continue to gain momentum, says eco-expert Kim Carlson.
Why its great: Traditional feng shui guides can be somewhat to downright confusing. Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life is not only a cinch to follow, it presents the ancient Chinese system of creating balance and chi (energy flow) with a sense of humor. It’s Rauch’s ability to bring on a giggle or two that makes this book not only practical, but also entertaining.
I know of solar power systems that people can put on their roofs to generate electricity or heat water. Are there systems that serve whole neighborhoods? — Lee Helscel, via email
Collective bargaining is a good strategy when looking to get the best price on a given product or service. Solar power is no exception, and dozens of neighborhood-wide installations in the U.S. and Canada have created a new model whereby going solar can actually start to pencil out for individual homeowners.
One of the first neighborhood-wide solar installations in the world was at the master-planned community of Drake Landing in the town of Okotoks in Alberta, Canada. The entire community, now with more than 50 homes built and occupied, is heated by a neighborhood-wide “borehole thermal energy” system designed to store abundant solar energy underground during the summer and distribute it to each home as needed for space heating throughout the winter. The system, which launched in June 2007, now fulfills some 90 percent of each homes space heating needs, with any slack taken up by fossil fuels.
While some planned communities like Drake Landing incorporated neighborhood solar power from the get-go, others decided it made sense after they were first built. One example is the deal that homeowners in Marin County, California can get in on, thanks to the hard work of the nonprofit GoSolarMarin. The group negotiated discounted group rates with several photovoltaic solar panel providers, and eventually signed on with SolarCity, a Silicon Valley based solar provider that operates some 30 different “community solar programs” across California, Arizona and Oregon.
GoSolarMarin was able to negotiate a rate some 25 percent lower than what a typical solar installation would cost for Marin County residents willing to participate. And best of all, homeowners can lease from SolarCity instead of having to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to buy equipment that may become obsolete in a few years. SolarCity monitors all clients installations online to ensure that they are running at peak performance, and also makes house calls for maintenance as needed.
While California is no doubt a leader in residential solar power, the concept is spreading. Neighborhood Solar, for instance, is a Colorado-based nonprofit formed to accelerate the adoption of residential solar power in the Denver Metro area. The group organizes homeowners into collective solar purchasing groups, and negotiates significant discounts accordingly. “We act as an independent buyers agent,” the group reports on its website, “with the goal of providing the best value to residential solar purchasers while helping installers put up more solar at reduced overhead costs.”
Community-based groups like GoSolarMarin and Neighborhood Solar are springing up all over the country, and dozens of solar companies have now adopted the community installation model. Community leaders interested in neighborhood-scope solar programs should shop around for the best prices and service guarantees before signing with any one solar provider. Theres a lot individuals can do to be part of clean energy solutions; theres even more a group working in concert can accomplish, and community-based solar is but one bright and shining example.
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
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