Saturday, November 19, 2011

Update: Going Green with the OakGreen Challange

Earlier this week I began blogging about the OakGreen Challenge.  This message was intended to introduce those of you who have not yet heard about this program and to educate you in what it is all about.  As many of you know that is the main mission behind the project.  Teaching... and then action steps.

What we discovered is that this is a really an energy usage challenge put forth by the Oakland County Executive L.Brooks Patterson.  He issued:

The "OakGreen Challenge" at the May 13, 2010 Green Summit Event. Registration for the Challenge officially opened at the May 2011 Green Summit.

The OakGreen Challenge encourages home, business and government facilities to decrease energy consumption by 10% within the next two years.

Challenge Reward:  Win the Oakgreen Challenge and have your utility bills paid for one year (up to $1500.)

I want to share a story with you that began back in Springfield Oaks County Park at the Oakland County Fair.  Our new start up company, was invited to partner with the Oakland County Fair in an effort to "Green up" the fair.  We were able to assist in this effort by:

#1 Displaying products and services in the Green Tent.

#2 Consulting with the Fair leadership on steps that could be taken to reach first year greening goals.

#3 Assisting in locating and implementing a soy bean based component into certain aspects of the fair     grounds operations.

#4 Participating in the education and awareness of green issues to fair visitors throughout the week.

I am mentioning this as a lead up to the main component of this message today.  And... that is the relationships that we formed in the process of participating in all of the above.

Who did we meet that week?  You can refer back to my Oakland County Fair Blog for a revisit of the weeks events.

Today I want to focus on the special accomplishments of one vendor who quietly and yet prominently displayed his talents at the green tent.  I have not yet talked much about the relationship I formed with what I will describe to you as a "green contractor" in Damon Dotson of Solar Works, LLC.

Why this has become top of mind and focus of today is relatively simple.  This guy not only talks the talk about green energy solutions... but... he walks the walk.

Damon invited me to visit his home in Whitemore Lake, Michigan... the world HQ for Solar Works LLC.   I had heard about some of the practices he has implemented not only at his home... but at many customers homes and businesses throughout Michigan.  I lost track of Damon after our week long encampment in Springfield Oaks County Park... come to think of it this was before the whole "occupy" movement made it's way to the main stream media.  I suppose you could say we were "Occupy Oakland County Fair" for the week!

With the limited time I have today I will introduce you to some of the great and innovative uses of green technology I discovered at the Dotson's home and then followup again in the near future with some Flip video I took during my visit.  Kind of like a hack version of "This Green House" coming soon.

The main purpose of my visit was to see the new solar panel installation that Damon began telling me about over a couple of short conversations throughout the summer.  He described to me a system that seemed very practical, affordable AND portable.   What I found unique about this installation was that it did not involve a roof mount or side mount onto a structure.... but was simply taking advantage of the large amount of open space with great undisturbed exposure to the suns rays.   The one main feature that really stood out in the conversation was the word "portable".   Why you ask?

Because... we are fickle people... who start out with one vision in mind... and then want to change it.  The added value proposition here is clear.  You invest in this great technology... your enjoying the benefits... and perhaps life delivers a change and your facing a move.  How many people do you know that have been faced with that decision.  What happens if the buyer of your home isn't so excited about your system... ?  Easy solution here!
Pack it up... and take it with you!

Please note the careful preparation of the foundation area of this panel system.  Damon described to me the extra steps he took in digging down into the ground and bringing in special A rating gravel for drainage and compacting.  Then added a nice additional layer of slag sand... compacted it all in to a nice firm foundation.  Next, he brought in concrete bumper blocks that you'd find in your average parking lot and fixed them into the ground with metal rods.  The panels are then firmly screwed into the weighed/staked bumper blocks for what Damon indicates is rated for over 100 MPH wind resistance.  Sure beats the heck out of my patio umbrella!

All this is connected together with all types of weather resistant fasteners, clips, wires, and modules that flow into a control box staked into the ground.  Next, Damon trenched a line running to the house that feeds into a DTE utility service panel attached to the side of his home and feeds into a special metering system.  This system allows for instant feedback with a digital display panel showing how much juice your panels are producing at any given time.  Damon demonstrated to me on this low sunny day in November that he was generating enough juice to satisfy his homes needs for the day AND anything over was being sold back to DTE through a special program he was able to implement called Solar Currents.  As of today... DTE is no longer taking new Solar Currents applications.  Bummer! And... I can understand why! If there are a lot more Damon's who implement what he has done... not really a good deal for someone like DTE who makes a living off you and me buying electricity from them.

So... in closing today... here is a guy who is leading by example.  I hope to be able to implement some of the steps I have learned about from Damon on my visit to his home.  I will share more of that with you in a coming additional blog with video content... in the coming weeks.

Until next time... "Hey... turn off that light switch! "  It really does all add up!  ;)