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SEI Partners with Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative (NASHI)

Posted by: chris
August 21, 2014

Solar Energy International (SEI) in partnership with NASHI recently completed a 5-day solar electric grid-tie training and installation project on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.

An exciting collaboration of partners involved in this workshop included Solar Energy International (SEI), Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative (NASHI), Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Oglala Lakota College (OLC), South Dakota School of Mines (SDSM), and Genpro Energy Solutions. Students and faculty from both OLC and SDSM attended the week long training as part of larger effort each school has undertaken to integrate solar energy into existing coursework and to provide demonstration projects for a strong emphasis on practical application as well as continued community awareness.

During the workshop participants, installed a 4.5kW grid-tie system on a strawbale home recently constructed as part of a "net zero energy" research project funded through HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research.


Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this project is that it's another successful step forward in a structured plan to utilize appropriate building and energy technologies to positively influence projects for housing, energy and economic development across the reservation.

NASHI Program Director, Rob Pyatt, summarizes the project as "a sustainable, affordable and culturally appropriate housing research, design and demonstration home project as part of the Thunder Valley Regenerative Community Development and as a foundation for the ongoing academic service-learning program between the CU Environmental Design program, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the Pre Engineering and Construction Technology program at OLC. The overall objective of the project will be to develop a comprehensive case study to help inform the future housing choices for the Oglala Sioux Tribe and an "applied research" laboratory to educate OLC, SDSMT & CU students in the design and construction of sustainable, affordable, culturally inclusive and regionally appropriate housing. The primary purpose of the project is to address the need for healthy, sustainable and affordable housing and increase the capacity and knowledge and resources of OLC to build environmentally sound, sustainable and energy efficient homes that are right for its community and region (people and places). Broader impacts include institutionalizing the information and results at OLC; applying the technology to foster broader economic development opportunities; and leveraging significant investment currently underway in the region".

This field based solar electric workshop included one day of classroom training covering fundamental photovoltaic (PV) concepts while the remaining four days were spent installing the 4.5kW grid-tie solar electric system. During the week students gained first-hand experience on the effects of shading, tilt and orientation with a PV module testing exercise and pump in the bucket demonstration. The module testing lab also included the opportunity for participants to gain experience with series and parallel wiring concepts and the use of basic metering tools including digital multi-meter, clamp meter, pyranometer and infrared temperature sensor. And of course we spent some time with the Solar Pathfinder to determine the optimal solar window for different areas around the site. Our roof location turned out to be entirely shade free thanks to some pre-planning on the placement of the building plumbing vents.


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