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Solar Decathlon: Building a Greener Future

Radiant heat from the sun has been harnessed by human ingenuity since the earliest times and sunlight has influenced building design throughout architectural history. Still only a fraction of available solar energy is being used in today’s buildings, creating a burden on the environment. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy held its first Solar Decathlon, a challenge to college teams from around the globe to design, build, and operate an aesthetic and livable, fully solar-powered house. This biennial event helps accelerate academic research in renewable energy technologies and serves as a reminder to all of us to act responsibly when making energy decisions at home. This year the University of Minnesota was selected as one of twenty teams invited to compete in the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., the first and only Minnesota team ever to participate in this unique international competition.

On April 2nd, meet Ann Johnson, the project manager of the U of M’s 150-student Solar Decathlon team, as she unveils their house’s iconic design and discusses innovative energy features that just may help build a greener future.

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Solar Powered electricity has been used for commercial purposes since the 1970?s, and it is in use now more than ever before. As new government regulations on clean coal come to pass, the cost of electricity is expected to skyrocket. Many business owners are turning to solar powered electricity as a way to reduce costs. Most of the electricity we use in the United States comes from coal burning power plants. The coal has energy stored in it that came from the sun millions of years ago. The coal needs to be burned to release this energy. It is cleaner and much more efficient to use the energy that is coming from the sun right now. By eliminating the need to burn coal, your company is will be a leader in the reduction of pollution. Solar powered panels can either be mounted on the roof or your structure, or they can be installed as ground units. During the daylight hours, these panels will collect and store energy from the sun. After peak sunlight hours the stored energy will run the electricity for you business. If you need more electricity than what the panels can produce, it will come from the utility company. Solar powered electricity is a way to reduce your use of coal burning electrical power. Solar power is quiet, and it produces no waste by product. By going with solar powered electricity, you are also making a wise investment for your company. A business or factory with solar powered panels installed will depreciate much slower than similar businesses that have no solar power. Public relations is also very important to business owners, and by owning a solar powered business, you are telling your clients and the public that you don?t just pay lip service to the devotion of a greener planet, you are part of the solution. Your potential customers will see you as an innovator, and people like doing business with innovators.

Great article-would like to publish in my free newsletter for seniors but was wondering if the information applies to Washington residents as well?

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