Archives for August 2009

Solar Homes Continue to Educate

The S&T Solar House Team is moving ahead quite well with the new solar house, and in late September it will be on the way to Washington D.C. We’ll have some stories about that project shortly, but in the meantime the three solar homes the Miners built for previous Solar Decathlons continue to serve as outreach and research facilities for Missouri citizens, to say nothing of being wonderful housing for three lucky S&T students.
DSC_0221villagepollack.jpgMiner solar car veteran David Pollack (ME ’08) recently started his own firm to train technicians to perform residential energy surveys, and each month he brings his students to S&T’s solar village for hands-on training. David normally calls it Energy Auditor Training, but the official name is the Building Performance Institute Building Analyst Certification Course. The students, who come from all over Missouri and Oklahoma, evaluate residential structures for energy efficiency and develop corrective actions, all intended to help homeowners cut their utility bills and improve comfort. DSC_0230villagepollack.jpg
One of the main aspects of the class is to determine the proper building air quality based on home’s size and number of occupants. If a house is too “tight” the air quality may be unhealthy for the residents; if the house is too drafty that means energy is being wasted. A blower door is used to de-pressurize the home so technicians can identify sources of air leaks and plan corrective action, whether that means plugging leaks or even adding outside air to cut down on mold or allergens. The students also look for gas leaks and safety concerns, or other factors that can impact the homeowners’ comfort.
These students often come from community organizations that try to help low-income homeowners cut their utility bills, and those who successfully complete the course become certified “Building Analysts”, the first of a multi-level accreditation process.
The citizens of Missouri help fund the solar house projects, so S&T students are only too happy to return the favor, and share their new skills and knowledge to help Missourians save money AND energy.