The 24th Annual Midwest Renewable Energy Fair is this Weekend!

The 24th Annual Energy Fair is next week!
We have some highlights we wanted to share with you – and let you know
that we have a few remaining exhibitor booths left, so if you wanted
to exhibit, there’s still time to sign up! Just contact Ellie Jackson as
soon as you can
at 715-592-6595 ext. 115 or
This year’s highlights include:
  1. Keynote speakers Danny Kennedy of Sungevity and Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award nominated documentary GASLAND  – 
  2. The second annual Seeing RED presentation on Sunday where a 2kW PV system will be given away to one of four nonprofit finalists –
  3. A Solar Powering Your Community track on Friday
    featuring sessions on financing, solar market trends, an overview of
    the changes happening in Minnesota, presenters from Wisconsin’s Energy
    Independent Communities, and more!
  4. Solar Professionals Workshops with Schletter, Caleffi, North Wind Renewable Energy, Quick Mount PV,  tenKsolar and more! 
  5. Extended workshops such as EV and Solar Charging and Successful Solar Business 
  6. A second stage (built by MREA’s very own Mike White and Nick Hylla) so there will be even more entertainment – 
The program guide is now online so you can check it out before next week 
And finally, here is a link to our promotional video for this year’s Fair 
We hope to see you there!

GreenBiz: California exec creating green retreat in Kickapoo Valley

From an article by Gregg Hoffman on

Tom Lukens has been to a lot of places over his long career in horticulture and business. Now, the president emeritus of Golden State Bulb Growers is creating “a beautiful place to simply be” along the West Fork in the Kickapoo Valley.

“I believe human beings are motivated by sharing experiences,” said Lukens, who continues to serve as a senior sales rep and technical consultant for the Moss Landing, California, Golden State Bulbs company, and has started Nature Nooks Retreat.

“That motivates me here. I believe this place gives you a sense of belonging which is good for us. We’ve built the buildings to not only be energy efficient as possible, but to bring the outside to you when you are inside. . . .”

Driftless Area Project head Jeff Hastings, Trout Unlimited, UW-Madison researchers and others have helped Lukens in his development of Nature Nooks and have embraced his bio-diversity approach to stream restoration.

The green construction starts with Lukens’ home, a 1,440 sq. ft. structure that resembles Frank Lloyd Wright designs and is intended to make as small a carbon footprint as possible.

Through the use of passive and active solar, hydronic heat in the floors, energy efficient windows and materials and a little bit of wood, Lukens was able to operate the home without “a drop of petroleum” last winter.

He estimates the solar part of his system cost about $34,000 more than conventional heat systems would, but he received an $18,000 tax credit and will recover any additional costs through energy efficiency.

Lukens also has worked with local contractors and has used local materials whenever possible.

“It starts by not building a home with more space than you need,” Lukens said. “This space is plenty for our purposes. By using local materials and labor, you also save costs, contribute to the community economically and leave less of a footprint because of transportation.”

Central Library renews environment via green roof, including solar

From an article by Bobby Tanzilo on

There are always exciting things going on in Milwaukee Public Library’s Downtown Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. But, these days, there is also some excitement on the building’s roof, too.

When the library needed to replace its 25-year-old roof last year, instead of going for a conventional roof, a 30,000-square foot green roof was constructed and 132 solar electric panels were added to generate about 36,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That’s enough to power four homes annually.

“Everyone’s very enthused about it,” says the library’s public services manager Christine Arkenberg, on a recent visit that begins on the library’s first floor, where there is an area dedicated to the green roof initiative.

There, visitors can see books about green issues, view explanatory materials, see a monitor with status updates on how much electricity is being generated, watch a video screen slide show and pick up brochures.

Wisconsin Focus on Energy Debuts New Homes Program

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

New program addresses energy-efficiency and quality-control needs specific to Wisconsin homes

(April 13, 2011) – Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, recently debuted the Focus on Energy New Homes Program. The program pairs Wisconsin builders with leading energy experts in order to construct new homes that are safer, more durable, and are 10 to 100 percent more efficient than typical homes built to the state’s Uniform Dwelling Code. Builders throughout Wisconsin can enroll in the program, and prospective homebuyers can work with participating builders to choose one of four levels of efficiency.

ENERGY STAR® Roots – An Evolution for Wisconsin Homes
Focus’ New Homes Program is a natural progression from the national ENERGY STAR Homes Program that Focus sponsored locally in the past. When the ENERGY STAR Homes Program overhauled its criteria in 2010, Focus collaborated with state builders to determine if the changes were appropriate for Wisconsin.

“When the new ENERGY STAR requirements were released, we realized that while they provided some great general building standards, not all criteria addressed the unique needs of Wisconsin homeowners,” said Sara Van de Grift, residential programs director for Focus on Energy.

“A home in Wisconsin isn’t going to need the same features as a home in California. This is why we created the Focus New Homes Program, to provide a customized, cost-effective option for Wisconsin residents looking to build safe, smart, energy-efficient homes.”

With builder support, Focus decided to forego ENERGY STAR requirements that weren’t applicable to Wisconsin homeowners, and instead develop standards that could yield superior energy savings at a more affordable price. For example, the following are just a few of the Focus on Energy New Homes Program requirements that homeowners will benefit from:

Air tightness. Air leaking into and out-of a home is major source of energy loss and can make a home feel drafty and uncomfortable. Homes certified by Focus’ New Homes Program must meet a stringent air tightness standard, dramatically reducing uncontrolled air leakage.

Whole house ventilation. Because the home is air tight, it is important to manage its indoor air quality. This is why whole house ventilation is required in a home certified by the Focus New Homes Program. The program has adopted the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 62.2, allowing a homeowner the ability to manage their home’s indoor air quality.

Space heating and water heating design standard. Because homes certified by Focus’ New Home Program have such strict requirements when it comes to air tightness and ventilation standards, as a safety precaution, the program does not allow atmospherically ventilated space heating or water heating appliances. Reason, in a home that is more air tight the ventilation fans can cause an atmospherically ventilated combustion appliance such as a natural gas water heater or furnace to back draft, drawing carbon monoxide and other combustion by-products into a home.

Viroqua Earth Day Celebration, April 22

Viroqua NewenHouse Earth Day OpenHouse

On Earth Day, Friday April 22, Madison Environmental Group, Inc. will be celebrating in Viroqua, WI at the Newenhouse kit home under construction. There will be tours of the home every hour, cake, old time music, and good times. This is a family friendly FREE event, from 2-6pm. NewenHouse kit homes will provide super insulated, small, sustainable homes for people who want to live lightly on the earth. The homes are designed to be Passive House and LEED Platinum certified. NewenHouses will not need a furnace, even in Wisconsin winters. You can follow Sonya’s BLOG about the building process on the website of Natural Home Magazine or view an article about the project here.

We will be serving the Driftless region’s infamous Maple Lattes with Kickapoo Coffee, Maple Valley Syrup and Organic Valley cream! Combine this event with an afternoon in Viroqua to visit the Main Street local shops, the Viroqua food coop, and eat at the Driftless Café. Directions to the Newenhouse OpenHouse 422 Hickory Street (2 hours NW of Madison). RSVP’s appreciated.