The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) Houston Solar Tour, presented by the Houston Renewable Energy Group (HREG), will showcase eight Houston area homes, businesses and projects currently powered by solar energy on Saturday, October 19, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
During the free, self-guided, open-house tour, Houstonians will be able to get a first-hand look at active solar energy systems. Building owners, designers and solar system installers will be on hand at each site to answer questions and provide information to tour participants. (Visit www.houstonsolartour.com for more information.)
“Since I started volunteering for the solar tour in 2006, I’ve seen amazing developments in Houston’s solar energy market," says Kathleen Reardon, director of the 2013 tour and principal with RD Architecture. "In 2006, only five of the eight solar tour projects had active solar systems – there just weren’t that many projects available to showcase. Seven years later solar panels are a common sight throughout the greater Houston area, and trained crews are busy installing new systems every week.”
Following the Solar Tour, participants are encouraged to visit the HREG booth at Houston’s second annual Energy Day Festival that takes place at Hermann Square, City Hall and Tranquility Park from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
“Recent findings from a Yale University survey show that Texans' attitudes on climate change are shifting. This bodes well for our community because it means that the Texas market, including Houston, is ready to adopt renewable energy solutions,” says Violeta Archer, incoming HREG president and principal of FLUID Design that specializes in building integrated photovoltaics. "Plus, with recent price drops in solar energy system equipment, now is the time to make an investment."
“With this event and the other outreach activities HREG produces or participates in with like-minded partners throughout the year, we're making headway and changing the energy landscape here. We continue to have a presence with Consumer Energy Alliance's Energy Day Festival, which occurs on the afternoon following the Solar Tour. And for the first time, we will have a presence at this year's Total Energy USA conference in November."
Here is a sample of the sites included on the 2013 ASES Houston Solar Tour:
- A Near-Zero Energy, affordable home for low income residents located in the Acres Home neighborhood featuring a solar energy system that typically handles nearly all the home's electrical needs, tankless water heaters, high efficiency HVAC system and windows, and many other energy efficient features.
- A newly built home in the Heights designed for sustainable living and net-zero energy use (it will remain comfortable year round without external power). With a preliminary HERS Rating of minus 8, this home is Registered as a Platinum LEED* home, qualified for the latest Energy Star 3, and likely for EPA Indoor airPlus certifications. Its PV solar system is projected to deliver an average of 16,600 kWh per year. The home also features 100% harvested rainwater for drinking and household use.
- A remodeled ranch style house in Timbergrove showcasing a number of energy efficient features, including a solar energy system projected to provide 60% to 80% of the home's electrical energy needs.
- A school located in southwest Houston with a solar power system designed to meet close to 100% of its energy needs.
- A six year old home in Richmond featuring a photovoltaic solar energy system designed to offset 85% of the home’s annual energy usage, and maintain limited power production even when the utility grid shuts down.
Before the tour, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 19, installer Texas Solar Outfitters, 705 Shepherd Dr., 77007, will host a breakfast presentation for facility owners and building professionals; learn about the economics of solar and how renewable energy is a smart financial choice. Their workshop facility features a combined system consisting of two solar arrays, 9 kW: 24 x 240 Axitec modules mounted on the roof, and 12 modules mounted in the configuration of a solar flower in front of the building. The installation provides more than half of the company’s electricity needs. In addition, all hot water needs for the building are met by two solar thermal collectors from Alternative Energy Technology.
Visit the Houston Solar Tour online at www.houstonsolartour.com for locations, maps, project details, photos of each tour site and more solar system installation specifics.
The 10th Annual 2013 Houston Solar Tour is affiliated with a national initiative of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). Houston is among 3,200 communities across the U.S. hosting similar open-house tours throughout the year of more than 5,500 solar-powered buildings.
Tour organizers hope to inspire individuals to make sustainable energy choices that help lower costs, support energy independence, protect against power outages and reduce carbon emissions.
*LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a national green rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to signify that homes and businesses have been designed and built to high standards of sustainability. Visit www.usgbc.org for details.
Established in 1999, the Houston Renewable Energy Group (HREG) educates residents of the greater Houston area on renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, conservation and green building techniques and innovations. The group also serves as the local chapter of the Texas Solar Energy Society. HREG’s members, who are primarily renewable energy enthusiasts, engineers, architects, specialists, system designers and users, work diligently to demonstrate a viable approach to sensible energy conservation and generation and cleaner air. We represent a bold vision for a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable world that will not only benefit Houstonians but the global community as well. For more details, visit http://www.txses.org/hreg/index.php.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY
Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation’s leading association of solar professionals and grassroots advocates. Supported by more than 12,000 members, ASES’ mission is to speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. ASES advances education, research and policy, inspiring the nation to go solar. ASES publishes the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, presents the National Solar Conference, rallies citizens to build a Solar Nation, and leads the National Solar Tour – the world’s largest grassroots solar event. For more information, visit www.ases.org.