Sierra Green Building assoc

COMM TPblog2 SiGBAtour2 2013 10Tom Paschos

Energy Efficiency Associate

This weekend I attended an inspiring, local event in the town of Truckee, where Sierra Business Council is headquartered. It was the Sierra Green Buildings Association’s (better known as SiGBA) Annual Fall Green Building Tour. The tour showcased five homes in Truckee that utilize green building practices and technologies.

SiGBA’s mission is to “educate and promote environmental building and business practices for a sustainable lifestyle in the Sierra Nevada communities.” The tour featured a range of technologies from Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal systems, geothermal heat pumps and hydronics, and even green roofs. The newly appointed Executive Director of SiGBA, Scott Terrell, told me, “I'm hoping that the Sierra Green Building Association can help bring back good green design to the forefront of the thinking, design and building here in the Sierra.Tom Paschos There needs to be a lot more education for consumers planning their new home or commercial building and the building professionals who will be supporting them."

That’s what the tour set out to do, with Scott - who has over 30 years in the Public Utility and Energy Conservation field - as our guide for the day. A large ensemble of interested people met at Meadow Park, where a local resident filled up their Nissan Leaf at one of the area’s Electrical Vehicle charging stations before boarding a bus to visit local green homes within Truckee (looking for an EV charging station in your area? Check out www.plugshare.com).

The tour included the house of Neal and Sue Mock who installed one of the first solar PV arrays in Truckee. Here we learned about the components of a solar array and how you can literally watch your electric meter spin backwards as you “sell” energy back to the grid. Another home featured a thermally efficient building envelope consisting of double pane and argon windows; specialized and reinforced, efficient foam insulation; even a geothermal heat pump system that utilizes seven wells, and in-floor hydronic heating. Situated atop a high ridge overlooking the Sierra where winds can reach up to 120 mph and snow can be overwhelming, the homeowners told us it was the most comfortable house they have ever lived in.

We witnessed some other interesting green technologies on the tour including solar skylight tubes and solar thermal systems that heat up your hot water for showers or washing the dishes via the power of the sun. There were other natural implementations that stood out on the tour: bamboo flooring, rooftop garden green roofs, and even greenhouses (speaking of greenhouses, be sure to check out Truckee’s Growing Dome!).

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