Volume 44

The Building of History II: Alternative Energy: Decker Homes

Changing Our Culture, One House at a Time


Preachers preach, thinkers think, dreamers dream, and doers do. The process is the same.


I wasn’t sure if “doer” was a word. The dictionary describes a doer as “a person who acts rather than merely talks or thinks.”


Back in the seventies, there was a magazine called “New Shelter.” Article after article explained how we could use the sun to our benefit. How we could use the water and the wind, and the earth below us to help conserve our natural resources, clean up our air, and cut down on the tremendous cost of keeping our cars running, keeping us warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and keeping our massive industrial complex moving more efficiently at lower costs.


Out of the smog and the smoking cars of the past, the “doers” have emerged. Undeterred and determined to change the status quo mindset of the people around them, they have shown, by example, that the world can become a cleaner, healthier place to live. Now, we are seeing an explosion of energy saving ideas that are becoming reality, thanks to such innovative “doers.”


Bill Decker, a builder by trade, fits the description to a “T.” His convictions of a better way of living are changing housing in this area, one house at a time. Home buyers are beginning to accept the higher starting costs of these energy saving homes because in the long run, they will be saving money.


Manufacturers are doing their part by delivering to the consumer energy saving products. They are also taking a chance on the future, betting that our world will embrace this direction.


HOW FAR HAVE WE COME?  I’m normally not a facts guy, but there are some pretty impressive numbers being generated here that can’t be ignored.


Renewables are now generating more new electricity capacity than nuclear and oil combined. Last year, utility-scale wind and solar power combined for 47% of new generation capacity in the US.


Utility-scale solar and photovoltaic technology generates enough power (currently 12,790 megawatts) that excess electricity is sold to electric utilities, who use it to help power homes and businesses.


To help clarify the power of a mega watt, this is how it breaks down:


Solar energy is measured in kilowatts—1 KW powers 76 light bulbs, 1 MW powers 10 retail stores, 1 GW powers 170,000 homes, 5 MW can power an entire community, and the wind from one politician is so large it can’t be measured. It’s HUGE!


Large companies like Apple, Walmart, Costco, Kohl’s and Ikea augment their energy needs by cranking out 283 MW of electricity without one electric turbine being turned.


In 2014, nearly 30 million sports fans attended events across the US at facilities powered by the sun.


Twenty-five arenas & raceways provided 21.7 MW of power, which eliminates nearly 20,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.


By 2016, solar will offset nearly 45 million metric tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the highways.


Folk who are hesitant about installing solar water heating and cooling because of the cost, will be delighted to discover that payback on the investment can be as little as 3-6 years.


I could go on and on with numbers and facts but the bottom line is, get on board the solar energy train at a station near you.


There are also breakthroughs in new battery techniques that enable power companies to ease the load on the grid during high peak usage. Electric cars are becoming more common, which cuts down on car pollution spewing into the air.


Geothermal technology helps cool our houses in the summer and warms them up when old man winter comes a calling. Tight fitting, triple pane windows keeps the cool air in the house during the hot, sweltering, dog days of summer and prevents warm air from leaking out in the winter. More energy efficient insulation in our walls is very important.


Energy efficient appliances, LED light bulbs, and green buildings—who would have ever imagined plants and grass growing on the top of high rises. Engineers are using city dumps to extract methane from the garbage before it escapes into the atmosphere. (Now if we could cut down on the methane producing ingredients in Mexican food, that would really be a breakthrough.)


We have come a long way. Don’t stop now. Don’t ever stop. Our earth depends on it.


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