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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Consider Saturday’s Tour of Sustainable Homes a Multi-Location Educational Event

Do you like learning about new technology and techniques regarding energy and how to reduce your own carbon footprint? Then this Saturday will be a particularly enjoyable and enlightening day for you!

The Golden Tour of Solar & Sustainable Homes on Oct. 1st is so much more than just of tour of solar & sustainable homes. Each location will teach you about technologies (or non-technology concepts) that you may have never heard of before. This year there are homes in Denver, Lakewood, Arvada, and Indian Hills as well as Golden on the tour.

My contribution to the tour each year is to shoot video tours of each home that’s on the tour for posting online at, Shooting these tours has given me an advance peek at the sites on this year’s tour. I use the word “sites” because there are more than just homes on the tour this year.  For example, you’ll tour the Iron Edison factory, which makes batteries for home storage of electricity. And, hopefully, you’ll visit the parking lot at Golden Real Estate, where we’ll host a roundup of electric vehicles (EV’s) and where I will be giving a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation explaining how EV’s work and why they’re more efficient and practical than gas-powered cars.  Golden Solar (located next to the American Mountaineering Center, where you register and pick up your self-guided tour book) will be giving a 15-minute presentation on solar power. This is the company that installed my home and office solar arrays.

Nowadays there are so many ways to make a home more sustainable.  Here are some of the ways you’ll learn about at different stops on Saturday’s tour.

One of my personal favorites is the Gagnon residence/farm on Comanche Road in Indian Hills.  Yes, the home has solar panels, but what got this home on the tour are its agricultural and animal husbandry features. The Gagnons have three greenhouses, one of which houses a year round aquaculture operation, where koi fish live in the water which nourishes the hydroponic plants above. Heated by the sun, the excess daytime heat is stored in an underground thermal mass which then releases that heat during cold winter nights, so no other kind of heating is required. The Gagnons also raise and slaughter a breed of African sheep which have hair instead of wool. Chickens and bees round out their operation, with the bees pollinating an orchard of fruit trees.
Also on the tour is the unique DuVivier-Wright home near the University of Denver. If you can’t make it there, be sure to view the video tour on the YouTube channel. Among its many features, this house has a clothes dryer designed to utilize its heat instead of exhausting it in the winter. It is a “near passive solar home” whose energy demand is so low that, with its 7.2 kW of solar PV, should prove to be “net zero carbon” on an annual basis.
Among the other technologies to which you’ll be introduced are geothermal heat pumps, which utilize the 55-degree temperature of the earth to heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer.  Another great invention is the HRV, which stands for Heat Recovery Ventilator. This device is essential when you make a house super-insulated and therefore super air-tight. The HRV uses the air that you exhaust from your house (such as from the bathrooms) to pre-heat or pre-cool the fresh air that you bring into the house for breathing and other purposes.
You won’t want to miss the Tiny House at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. It’s their entry in an annual competition of sustainable homes.
During this year’s tour, you will also learn about high-performance windows, super insulation concepts and more. Admission to the 13 sites is achieved by purchasing the $10 tour book at the American Mountaineering Center at 710 10th Street, in downtown Golden. The tour book can also be purchased at one of the Denver homes on the tour, an “urban farm” at 1426 S. Race Street, just east of South High School’s campus. The homes are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Return to the Mountaineering Center in Golden from 4 to 6 p.m. for a vendor expo and free reception with wine, craft beer and appetizers. Look for a half-page ad elsewhere in this section of YourHub for more info.

Published Sept. 29, 2016, in the YourHub section of the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.

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