Solarfest is a fun weekend of renewable and sustainable living workshops both for adults and kids, highlighted by great music, food, and fun activities. All the electricity for the music stages, projectors in the workshop tents, lights, and vendor stalls is provided by solar photovoltaics and a wind turbine on site. There are also solar hot water showers for those who stay overnight (mostly in tents or RVs). Last weekend was Solarfest’s 18th year in production.
Two years ago I presented the goals, vision and planning for my business and home renovation, 78 Main St renovation, from a historic shell to a zero net-energy building (ZEB). At last year’s Solarfest I presented the completion of the project and some details on the data logging (Solarfest Workshop, 2011). In order to analyze the energy systems that were designed it is necessary to measure all the heating and electrical use of the house over the course of a year (or more).
Solarfest was a lot of fun this year! I learn so much from the attendees and the other vendors. It is an important part of my renewable energy continuing education.
This year I learned about fixed magnet versus electromagnet motors (as used in wind or water turbines) and how to provide appropriate electrical circuits to support them. I learned a few more good uses for composting toilets and backyard garden composters based on what people are actually doing with these products. I got the answer to a question that one of my customer’s had about his grid-tied battery backup system that didn’t always sell all his solar power back to the grid. And I heard a few more interesting ways that people are making their own hot water batch heaters.
Cluttered Store (before picture)
Since I moved into the new store I’ve had to plan and re-plan the layout as it was not obvious to me how people would enter and move around in this new space.
My first store was basically a small rectangle of space and I put my desk at one end. That served pretty well for chatting with customers, register check-out area for buying things, and an office work space with easy access to files, catelogs and reference materials from many vendors. It was small enough that there really weren’t many choices for layout.
The New Energy Emporium
I think the title of this blog is a little optimistic, perhaps wishful thinking. If the definition of “finished” includes all items have been moved to the new place and boxes unpacked… then I’m not really finished at all. In my case I still have store items in the old store and home items in the container outside…so there is quite a bit of work still left to do.
But…symantics aside…I am now working and living in my new digs at 78 Main St! So, for all intents and purposes I am moved in. And it is great to have a place to call home!
As is probably the case with many big renovation projects, we went a little over budget so I took on a few of the finishing projects myself with quite a bit of help from my brother-in-law, Jared, and his friend, Jeff (thanks so much, guys!).
On March 31, 2011 I got the occupancy permit for the residential section of our building at 78 Main St
! And I moved in last weekend. There is still some work to do on the commercial side (Energy Emporium’s future home), but I’m hoping to finish that and move the store in by the end of this month.
It has been a lot of physical, mental and emotional work, a lot of red tape (from permits to loans), and some interesting tweaking and modifications of the solar powered heating system to get to this point… but it came out really well. A lot of thanks goes to my general contractor, Don Roberts, who has been great to work with even while I changed things at the last minute to meet LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) and ZEB (zero energy building) requirements.
Lots of Snow
It was a really nice snowstorm that we had last week — lots of snow and most of it fell in the daytime when we could look out the window or take a little stroll in it. Schools were closed ahead of time so no one worried about school bus accidents or getting up particularly early. Here in NH anyone who has a job that requires them to get out on the roads every day no matter the weather has 4 wheel drive. And the plows were out early and often keeping the major roads passable.
Two days later I was walking around the village of Enfield, NH and couldn’t help but notice some amazing icicles… and some houses with none. As you probably know, icicles represent melting snow off the roof… as it drips down over the edge of the warm roof it hits the freezing cold air and refreezes. They are really quite pretty.
Mt Garfield, Oct
It is time to work on your weatherization projects and finding all sorts of ways to keep the heat inside your house this winter.
Here in New Hampshire and Vermont there are a number of resources to help us save money and keep the heat indoors. Here is a new website called UV Heat (Upper Valley Home Energy Action Team) that was started by 3 local non-profit organizations: SERG (Sustainable Energy Resource Group), COVER home repair, and the Upper Valley Housing Coalition.
It’s been a few weeks since my last update on the 78 Main St Renovation, and a lot has changed. Don Robert’s crew (Wayne, Aaron, and Bruce) have almost completed the framing of the new roof and walls within the old structure. David Dow (Double D Electric) has a permanent electrical connection to the house and some temporary outlets for us to use. We’ve also made some really good progress on the Solar Collector heating system (look for solar collector pictures and details in the next blog).
I knew very little about historic preservation when we bought this house. My least favorite subject in school was history. I always thought of myself as high-tech and modern. The first two houses that my husband and I bought (and where we raised our kids) were both new construction. I’ve never been nostalgic for “the good old days” or cared much to browse through antique shops.
LEED-H (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification program for residential homes to promote best practices in energy conservation, land and water use, air quality, and education in building construction. (Here is an earlier blog on LEED as it applies to 78 Main St, our renovation project).
This week I held a LEED-H meeting with representation from all the sub-contractors to go over the preliminary rating, the pre-requisite items, and to address the Durability Plan — which is the first real deliverable from our group to the LEED raters.
Solar Storage tank
Unfortunately we had a problem with the webcam and didn’t get any time-lapse pictures of the second day of building the solar storage tank (see Thermal storage tank
, part 1 from the first day). We did get some video footage and a few stills, see below.
The first day was the construction of the tank itself with foamboard and spay foam and the beginning of fill, which is mostly sand. The second day included the addition of temperature sensor conduits, as well as the heat exchanger hardware for both the solar heating loop and the house extraction loop. Also the domestic hot water heat exchanger was added.