Renewable Energy Fair Wrap-up

June 17th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Wind turbine in Custer Wisconsin, generating renewable energy for the fair We returned to the Midwest Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fair this morning, under the gentle whirring of the wind turbine above the pines.

Today was a day of more workshops.

First, I brushed up on the issue of electric and magnetic fields in homes, spending two hours listening to Spark Burmaster talk about the simple errors in wiring that can have a big effect on fields. Like allergens, people have varying sensitivities to magnetic and electric fields. Careful attention to grounding, grounding, grounding can dramatically reduce fields in the home.

Next I bought a Solar Pathfinder, to help me advise my clients on the suitability of their sites for solar energy systems. The clever device uses simple reflection of the surroundings overlaid on a sunpath chart for the site’s latitude to inform the designer what surrounding objects (trees and buildings usually) will block the sun at what time of year. Photovoltaic panels are extremely sensitive to shading, so this device will help us quantify if your site is right for PV. Solar water heaters are less sensitive, but we can now help you better understand what the impact of that white pine tree will have on your morning shower.

Window in the Strawbale demostration hut

During a break, we checked out the straw bale demonstration hut, which will eventually house composting toilets for the facility. This hut is a load-bearing system, meaning that the bales actually hold up the roof structure.

Rammed tires for entry steps
The entry steps are (obviously) old tires filled with compacted dirt.

Artistic play in the plaster

And, of course, the plaster work provides a medium that can be artistically inviting as well.

The hut

Seeing the hut after yesterday’s seminar makes me want to design and build such a house. If you might be interested, let’s talk!

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