Earth Day News

While many community-based Earth Day volunteer efforts and celebrations are delayed or cancelled because of the quarantine, we wanted to share some good news about the results of energy efficient construction and the use of solar to achieve Net Zero.

While the current coronavirus crisis is horrific in the number of lost lives, lost income and lost businesses, we are confident that eventually our scientists will develop a vaccine and we will be able to climb out of this crisis step by step. As we tackle the current issues, the even larger climate crisis still looms as detrimental as ever. While the air is cleaner in many parts of the world right now, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is still rising. We all need to do our part to solve global warming and buildings notoriously exacerbate the problems with inefficiencies in their energy and water use, and with poor design that is not flexible and long lasting.

My husband Bob and I, both architects, completed construction on what we believe to be Pacifica, California’s first Net Zero Energy home. It’s now been a year since our solar system has been fully operational and so we wanted to share our actual data with you. Below is a copy of our PG&E “True Up Statement” for the year. As you can see, some months we use more power than we generate, but overall we are sending more to the grid than we use, 861 kWh over the course of a year to be precise. The solar system was designed to offset all of our electric use plus an electric car. We have no gas connection to the house, so no fossil fuels are used. Right now we have a plug in hybrid Ford C-Max that we charge that gives us about 15 miles on a charge. We hope to be able to purchase a fully electric car this year to use the rest of those precious kilowatts and be able to completely eliminate fossil fuels from our daily life.

Below is a page from our solar monitoring system, showing the generation in 2019. As you can see, plenty of solar is generated all year long, even in our foggy months.The day to day generation will vary because of the fog and cloud cover, and the months of July and August, where most people would see high numbers, dip a little bit for us here in the coastal Bay Area. The average monthly generation is what is important though as our goal is net zero usage at the end of the year, not net zero at each moment in time.

My favorite section on this page is at the bottom of the right column that translates solar generation into number of trees planted. While we have managed to plant about a dozen real trees on our property since we moved in, our solar system has offset the equivalent of planting 619 trees!

If you’d like more detailed and technical information about our project, we wrote about the design and construction process in the form of a blog on our website over the past few years, so you can get more photos and technical information related to the specific topics through the link below.

Keep an eye on our website for future tours as well. Hope to see you soon, on a tour, on a beach cleanup day, or at a local restaurant! Please consider getting a quote for solar for your own home or business to reduce your carbon footprint in time for next year’s Earth Day, or if you can’t do that, plant something near you to soak up that carbon dioxide.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  

There is hope if we all work together and do our part!

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