The Idea!

Solar Home Chronicles 1

Tuesday, 11 September 2007 — The first in a series of twenty-seven articles about the construction of a solar home. From the first idea to completion.

I have no idea why I went to that solar building workshop back in 2003. It was called “Solar Shelter Design” — a practical, how-to course on designing and building solar shelters, including greenhouses, solaria, additions and especially solar homes”, hosted by one of Canada’s most experienced solar designer-builders, Don Roscoe. It was held in Halifax, over two Saturdays at a local community college. I came home with lots of reading material, excited about the `simple genius’ of solar energy, and how this could be easily incorporated into home building.

Jump forward to 2005. As a member of EOS Eco-Energy/Eco-Energie Inc. (our regional community group, committed to green energy sustainability in the Tantramar region), we were considering what we could do to contribute to the `green education’ of the Tantramar region. I knew just what EOS should do _ invite Don and Solar Nova Scotia to offer his workshop here.

In March 2005, twenty-five people from all over New Brunswick attended the weekend workshop that Solar Nova Scotia offered at Mount Allison University, hosted jointly with EOS, Cape Jourimain Nature Centre and the Atlantic Canada Energy Coalition. Many came through sleet and snow to attend, from as far away as Bathurst and Grand Manan Island! There was such an interest in further details of the solar slab construction (more about that later), that a second workshop was held on a Saturday at the end of April, just for trades people.

In an earlier life, my partner Eric had made a living doing construction, so it didn’t take too long for the idea of building our own solar home to take root in both of us. And it only took one sunny March day for us to look at each other, share a realization (just imagine an energy-efficient light bulb above each of our heads!), and quickly run downtown to see Mary Sears about some land. We were lucky to find a lot within town limits that has an excellent southern exposure, and within weeks completed its purchase.

This is an exciting project that we have embarked upon. Over the next year, we will be designing and building a passive solar home in Sackville, using the latest, most cost-effective `green’ methods and materials. We will be working with Don Roscoe, of Solar Nova Scotia, as well as a number of local environmentalist/carpenters. Not being particularly wealthy, we will endeavour to make this as inexpensive as possible, while incorporating such important values as sustainability and health. We will also be documenting our story, every step of the way, and sharing it with you in this newspaper.

In my next article, I will talk about some of the principles of a passive solar home, so that you can find out what we got so excited about.