Category Archives: Green Building

Is the new California solar mandate a threat to utilities across the country?

By Innogy Consulting, Utility Dive

California, a leader in clean energy, is the first state in the country requiring new homes to include solar panels, beginning in 2020. What’s more, the Sunshine State’s mandate provides incentives for homeowners to pair energy storage with solar. What does this mean for utilities across the U.S.? Read the sponsored post here.

Photo by GRNE Solar: The Sun Haven – Solar-Powered Net-Zero Energy Home in Lincoln, Nebraska. See Solar Examples.



The Sun Haven: Solar-Powered Net-Zero Energy House Featured in Lincoln’s Spring Parade of Homes

This year Lincoln-based GRNE Solar teamed up with Wilderness Construction to build a beautiful net-zero energy home with solar on the roof and outlets for electric vehicles in the garage. The home, called the Sun Haven, is located at 6077 Chartwell Lane in Lincoln. Through the use of solar power this home will produce as much energy as it consumes.

GRNE Solar is featuring The Sun Haven on the Home Builders Association of Lincoln’s Spring Parade of Homes through this Sunday, May 20th. The company will host educational sessions on solar energy, as well as free “Solar Potential” studies for home buyers..

Admission is FREE to view the homes in the Parade.

For more information, visit the Event Website.

Drone View of The Sun Haven:

Thank you to all who attended yesterday’s tour of Karen & Darren Dageforde’s Net-Positive Energy Home!

First of all, thank you to our hosts, Karen and Darren Dageforde and their son, Pierce: Karen for providing an excellent presentation on their all-electric home’s many green building and clean energy features, and to all three of them for providing individual discussions and tours afterwards. Karen also talked about their family’s commitment to saving energy, water and other natural resources and provded steps attendees can take in their own homes.

Many thanks, too, to everyone who made the beautiful drive to attend the event, coming from Blair, Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln, Council Bluffs and as far away as Seward!

Built in 2010, the home’s features include a passive solar design; huge windows for natural lighting; insulated concrete-form floors and walls, which prevent air infiltration and loss, a major contributing factor to the typical home’s energy costs; Energy Star windows and Energy Star appliances; R-50 attic insulation; 5 closed-loop geothermal wells for heating, cooling and hot-water generation; a 5-ton HVAC system; radiant flooring that provides free cooling; and photovoltaic (PV) systems: 18 panels installed in July 2011 and 14 in May 2016.

  • These were both do-it-yourself projects designed and installed by Karen and Darren.
  • The total energy generated by their PV system in 2017 was 11,303 kilowatt hours (kWh), providing 100+% of their home’s energy needs!

The cost of designing and building their net-positive energy home was very comparable to the cost of a conventional build.

Karen, now retired, holds a degree in accounting, and Darren, director of utilities in UNMC Facilities, Management and Planning, has a degree in mechanical engineering. They are also volunteers at the Washington County Recycling Center, working alongside others to sort boxes of cans and bottles, paper and plastic.

They and their son Pierce “walk the walk” in this area, too, in a variety of ways and encourage others to do so, as well, as they did yesterday, including: not only recycling but also purchasing recycled products; trading with others; buying in bulk, thus reducing packaging, and taking reusable, washable containers to stores, including mesh produce bags; and repurposing materials, as Karen and Darren did when they recovered lumber that had been thrown away to build their chicken coop.

Each one of these steps conserves energy, water, and other natural resources over the manufacturing and use of new things.

Following up on the Dageforde family’s inspiring presentation, handouts, and individual tours and discussions yesterday, the links to resources, below, provide additional information on energy conservation and renewable energy incentives for homes and businesses.


Morrissey Engineering takes diligent approach to “being green”

By Kevin Warneke, Omaha World-Herald

Morrissey Engineering takes sustainability seriously, said founding principal George
Morrissey . . .  “When we decided to build new in 2008, we knew that sustainability had to be featured throughout the building,” Morrissey said. The return on that investment came when the company earned platinum, or top, certification for its environmental performance from the U.S. Green Building Council. Read the entire article here.

See Also: 

Jared Friesen, Renewable Energy Specialist and Electrical Project Manager at Morrissey Engineering, is a Nebraskans for Solar board member and the organization’s immediate past president.

She’s building what’s believed to be Nebraska’s 1st earthship, a unique style of home that ‘attracts a certain type of person’

By Chris Peters, Omaha World-Herald

“The whole idea is you’re off-grid, you’re completely sustainable, you have your own water, you grow your own food,” said Cathy Krueger, the owner. “It attracts a certain type of person.”

The earthship concept was created in the 1970s by architect Mike Reynolds in New Mexico. “Gunsmoke” actor Dennis Weaver, a noted environmentalist, built one in the ’80s.
Click here to read more.

Photo: Cathy Krueger’s earthship home is believed to be the first in Nebraska. Earthships rely on the sun and cool air from the ground to maintain temperaratures around 70 degrees. They also collect rainwater and generate energy with solar panels.  Credit:  Brendan Sullivan / The World-Herald

Puerto Rico’s Devastated Electric Grid Could Be a Big Opportunity for Renewable Energy

By Justin Worland, Time Magazine

Authorities acknowledge they need months before power returns to some regions. Still, energy experts say the rebuilding effort offers a unique opportunity to outfit the island with the electric grid of the future: a state-of-the-art system built from scratch using renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which would be cheaper to operate and would respond better to the next hurricane. The reimagined grid would rely on the concept of a microgrid, which are localized electric grids that allow communities to keep power even if centralized power plants are not functioning. Click here to read more.

Photo: A woman looks out from her damaged house in San Isidro, Puerto Rico on Sept. 28, 2017. Andres Kudacki for Time Magazine


Photo: A sonnen community in Germany with solar + storage..

The Home of the Future . . . Today: The Zero Energy Ready Home – YouTube Video

In 2016, the Zero Energy Ready Home team launched a new consumer video, “The Home of the Future…Today.”  Now live on the Tour of Zero home page and also available on YouTube, the short video helps consumers learn why leading experts would choose a Zero Energy Ready Home for themselves based on seven essential systems.

The Tour of Zero, the virtual showcase for the best of Zero Energy Ready Homes, features over 120 home profiles from builders across the country.   Visitors are able to tour certified homes in every major U.S. climate zone and can view images of the home’s exterior, interior and technical solutions (in that order).

The power of solar energy

Written by Fremont Tribune Staff

After survey results indicated that a large portion of Fremont residents are interested in solar energy, the Fremont Department of Utilities is moving forward with planning a community solar farm in Fremont. More than 70 percent of Fremont’s residential population responded through an August, 2016, survey saying that they were interested in getting power from a community solar farm. The first step in the process will be to present information about community solar at the Fremont Home and Builders Show held Friday through Sunday at Christensen Field Community Center. Read the entire article here.

Photo: Central City, Nebraska. What a community solar farm might look like in Fremont.


32nd Annual Fremont Home and Builders Show to open this weekend, by Chris Zavadil, Fremont Tribune. Free admission to the public! 

The show, sponsored by the Construction Employers Association of Fremont, will open at the Christensen Field Community Center from 6-9 p.m. Friday, and continue from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, and from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday.  All 93 vendor booths, as usual, have been sold, Event Coordinator Ron Spahni said. Read more.

Photo by Chris Bristol / Fremont Tribune

The dawn of architectural solar

By David Beckham, Director of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics at Walters & Wolf. Published by GreenBiz News.

Since the beginning of the modern architectural era, humankind has dreamed of self-sustaining buildings that generate their own power. Futurists of the early 20th century looked ahead to the days when the sun would power our homes and commercial buildings and we would be transported to and from our workplaces in flying cars. Unlike the overly ambitious estimates concerning personal air transportation, today the concept of a solar-powered building is neither remote nor unachievable. Continue reading.

Photo: Walters & Wolf fully-engineered Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) façade powered by Solaria.

Sandhills Publishing in Lincoln Announces Construction Of LEED Gold “Cyber Center”

Sandhills PublishingNews Release Excerpt
Sandhills will soon break ground on a new facility on its 68-acre global headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. The announcement comes on the heels of a recently constructed IT facility, completed in October. The new 42,000-square-foot building, called the Cyber Center, will house 240 employee workstations, a reception area and café space, as well as classrooms and other training facilities. The new addition is part of a larger trend of sustainable, companywide growth for Sandhills . . . Constructed largely of recycled and reclaimed materials, the facility will be gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program ( The design incorporates state-of-the-art technologies that increase water and energy efficiencies through the use of solar panels, light harvesting sensors, and motion sensors that control plumbing and electricity. The new facility will also feature one of the most advanced heating and cooling system designs in the world: a closed-loop, geothermal well field confirmed by the EPA to operate at greater efficiency than oil furnaces, gas furnaces, and air source heat pumps.

Read the entire News Release here.