Renewable Energy Education
for a Sustainable Future

  Home | Workshops | Membership | Contact   SEI Newsletter, Issue 69 - January 2009  
SEI was recently highlighted on NPR's morning edition in a story about green jobs. To listen to the story click on the following link: Green Industry In Need Of Trained Workers
Updated Online Courses at SEI
Solar Hot Water workshop on Guemes Island, WA
We have recently updated our online courses to use the Blackboard Academic Suite™, the industry’s leading online education platform. SEI's online courses cover the same topics as the in-person workshops, minus the hands-on component. Lessons include exercises, homeworks, and quizzes to test student comprehension. There is also an online discussion board where students can network with each other and post questions for the instructors. Upcoming online courses include:
Upcoming hands-on workshops include:
Straw Bale Eco House Welcomes Inauguration Visitors
BWB eco-house
photo credit: Bill Steen
A colorful straw-bale "eco-house" at the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) on the National Mall invites the millions of Americans expected to visit Washington D.C. in January to experience traditional American "green-building" techniques. The eco-house exhibit, which demonstrates adobe, bamboo, and straw-bale construction, was created by Builders without Borders (BWB), a global network of sustainable builders, as part of the USBG's Summer 2008 exhibition "One Planet - Ours!"

Builders without Borders created the straw-bale eco-house to showcase attractive and energy-efficient building strategies appropriate for homes and commercial buildings, urban or rural, and nearly any climate. The eco-house walls are built with straw bales, plastered on the outside with a bright yellow lime plaster, and topped with a silvery-gold standing-seam metal roof. Designed to harvest sunlight, the glass front doors face the winter sun.

View a video tour of the eco-house from NBC TV
PV to Power Grand Canyon Visitor Center
Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Visitors Center will soon be home to a new solar photovoltaic system.

The Associated Press reports that the 18 kilowatt system will be installed this spring, and will provide approximately 30% of the center’s electricity. The National Park Service, which runs the center, estimates it will save about $2,500 a year from this system.

The new system is being paid for by Arizona Public Service, which plans to set up an educational exhibit on solar energy at the center which attracts 4.5 million visitors annually.

Alumni News - Solar for Native Americans
Jasmine Brown
SEI alum Jasmine Brown recently taught a PV workshop at the Squirrel Ridge Ceremonial Grounds in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation is embarking on an ambitious project that will provide a welcoming space to practice traditional beliefs and demonstrate sustainable building techniques to the surrounding community. Grants were obtained by the Cherokee Arts and Humanities Council and Red Earth Action Network to build a straw bale building to house bathrooms with composting toilets and harvested rainwater for handwashing. Twenty-five people from the local community and around the nation participated in the accompanying workshops on straw bale construction and PV.

Despite severe weather challenges, the volunteers worked around the clock to complete the building and a small, off-grid 220 watt battery back-up PV system that powers DC lighting and water pumping. SEI donated the 3000 watt inverter. In the coming year, they plan to expand the system by 1500 watts to power the recently built kitchen and the planned bunk house.
Gaining Our Freedom from Oil
Oil well
As the next President takes office on January 20, 2009, the nation looks to him to come up with a plan that will put an end to the crippling high energy costs. According to Jeff Wilson, author of The Manhattan Project of 2009: Energy Independence NOW, "the plan must be thoroughly thought out and based in reality. Yet it must be executed quickly, forcefully, and successfully."

In an article in, Wilson tells us what the real situation with oil is, and what our real options for energy are. We currently import 70% of our oil. Worldwide, we are consuming oil at twice the rate that new oil is being discovered. Not only are reserves dwindling, but at the same time demand is increasing. However, Wilson believes "we have the technologies to get ourselves off of oil. We really do. With a serious commitment, adequate funding, and good information, we can get ourselves totally off oil in 15 years."

Read the entire article at
Upcoming RE events
SEI workshop
Don't miss these exciting upcoming events:
Your Generosity Ensures our Success!
SEI workshop
SEI would like to welcome new members! As a membership-based non-profit, SEI's members are the heart of our organization and allow us to continue our educational programs. SEI Staff are passionate about the work we do and membership dues help sustain our renewable energy endeavors.

Please join us! Membership benefits include (depending on membership level) discounts on workshops and a one year subscription to either Home Power magazine, Solar Pro magazine or E magazine.

Click here for details on how to become an SEI member.

To all SEI members . . . SEI sends thanks!
Help create a sustainable future. Please forward this newsletter to your friends.

PO Box 715 Carbondale, CO 81623
39845 Mathews Lane Paonia, CO 81428
970-963-8855 • fax: 970-963-8866 •
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