When I was researching solar schools in 2008, the clear choice was Solar Energy International. It is not only a great nonprofit school set in Colorado where mountains meet plateaus and hippies meet farmers, but it has students and hires teachers from all over the country that can turn into connections and community when you go back home.
I was fresh out of SEI's PV school in 2009 when I went on my first Green Home Tour in Durham, North Carolina. My love for different kinds of dwellings runs deep, so I was excited to go out and see real-world energy-efficient applications being implemented. One of the homes I toured that day had a solar thermal system installed by Honey Electric Solar. This is where I met Josiah Snovel, Honey Electric Solar lead installer and SEI alumnus (Josiah had ridden his bicycle all the way from the shores of North Carolina to Paonia to study at SEI!).
Shortly after meeting Josiah at the Green Home Tour, I was contacted by Rebekah Hren, Honey Electric Solar Vice President, SEI instructor, and author of The Carbon-Free Home and A Solar Buyer's Guide for the Home and Office. Although Rebekah wasn't teaching at SEI when I was there, other instructors referred me to her since we both lived in Durham. I had already reached out to Rebekah and had met her and toured her net-zero home. The connections I made at SEI and that day on the Green Home Tour are what lead to my first-ever solar job with Honey Electric Solar.
When I decided to start Northwest Solar Rover last year, Tom Honey, Honey Electric's owner, was the first person I reached out to. Without hesitation, he encouraged me and offered to help. Having Tom as a partner to build the Solar Rover could not have worked out any better. Tom is a master of his craft. His attention to detail, solar installations, and customer care are always above and beyond. I'm so proud when I show the Solar Rover off. I always get nice comments about how impressed people are by its design and construction. Thank you, Tom. (And a quick thank you to Paul for his suggestion to add the USB ports. People love them.)
This year we were invited by 21 Acres to be a part of their Green Home Tour last Saturday to show off the Solar Rover. It was already a special invite. I had worked for Sunergy Systems in Seattle, and I’d been at 21 Acres before to represent the PV system Sunergy installed there. It was a beautiful spring, volatile-weather kind of day, and everything went smoothly. Hundreds of people showed up, and it was a success for all. We met some great people (and dogs), got some great ideas, had some delicious food, and took a nice stroll around their beautiful property.
If you haven't been out to 21 Acres, I highly recommend it. It's a farm, market, event center, and school. It's a LEED platinum-certified property in a beautiful setting in Woodinville. So a big thank you to 21 Acres for having us on the 2014 Green Home Tour, and for helping us bring it full circle.