Design + Renewable Energy

Build Sustainable Homes is the sponsor of #ecomonday  posts for the Twin Cities Design Collective, a cool blog covering local design in the MN area.

The Twin Cities Design Collective is a site dedicated to exposing & sharing the many hidden creative treasures right here in Minnesota & its surrounding communities.

The MN Renewable Energy Society (MRES) is hosting the 2011 Minnesota Solar Tour (

Have you ever been interested in producing your own renewable energy or seeing how a pv solar array works?  I’m sure some people might be thinking that renewable energy and design don’t go together.  I’m happy to report that MN has a growing number of homes using renewables both in the cities and in rural areas.  You can see both the design elements and learn about the technical aspects on October 1, 2011.

Solar Electric and Solar Thermal Systems – photo via Innovative Power Systems/Minneapolis

Homeowners will be opening their houses for the tour so you can see all the working parts, plus if you follow the provided map you can make sure to stop by the homes that utilize the following sustainable building and living topics.

MN Solar Tour System Components

Here’s a quick overview of some of the system components so you can figure out which homes should be at the top of your list.

Solar Electric (PV – Photo-voltaic):  Harnessing the suns radiation with arrays of photovoltaic cells that convert it into direct current that is either used for current load, stored for later in a battery or resold to a utility (grid tied).

Solar Hot Water:  Using the sun to heat water either directly or by heat transfer and saving either the electricity or fuel that would normally be used.

Solar Hot Water System (photo via Innovative Power Systems/Minneapolis)

Passive Solar:  Using the suns radiation to directly heat elements of a structure that will retain it and/or direct it as heat in the form of infrared radiation.

Ground-Source Heat:  (Geothermal heating/cooling)  Using the earths constant temperature found at levels below the frost line to assist in cooling or heating by providing a baseline temperature that is closer to our desired comfort range than is achieved by heating winter or cooling summer air.

Wind:  Using wind energy to generate energy with wind turbine or turbines.

MN Solar Tour (photo via MN Renewable Energy Society)

Don’t forget to ask the homeowners or professionals about the pros and cons of each component from the pre-planning stage to today.


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