The Environmental Education Center in Plano is one of the stops on the seventh annual DFW Solar Tour on Oct. 1.

Sept. 27, 2016 

How do solar energy, wind energy, energy efficiency and a variety of other sustainable technologies save money for the typical homeowner while consuming less of our natural resources?

You can find answers to those questions and more at the upcoming DFW Solar Tour, hosted by North Texas Renewable Energy Group on Oct. 1. The event is free.

DFW Solar Tour UNT Zero Energy Lab“Thanks in part to the generosity of our 2016 sponsors, the DFW Solar Tour will provide many opportunities to see how cutting edge technologies improve lives and save energy,” said DFW Solar Tour committee leader and Plano Solar Advocates volunteer Robert Litwins. “Advancements in energy storage technology allow some home and business owners to generate, store and consume most of their energy on site.” 

UNT's Zero Energy Lab is featured on this year's tour.

The Solar Tour, an all-volunteer-produced event now in its seventh year, allows the general public to visit select homes and buildings throughout North Texas with an eye toward green living and overall sustainability.

Litwins said he estimated about 500 visitors attended the 2015 tour. 

“Since we started keeping track in 2010, attendance has risen steadily each year, with the exception of 2012, which was cold and rainy,” Litwins said.  “That is increasing by 20 percent or more each year and we expect to continue that trend this year.”

Comparable to last year's 49 sites, Litwins said for 2016 there are 50 sites expected to be on the tour.  Those 50 sites will encompass seven counties and stretch from as far west as Weatherford to Denton in the north, Cedar Hill in the south and Fairview to the east. 

DFW Solar Tour Westbrook home“With new sites in the west portion of the Metroplex, visitors will have more geographic options,” Litwins added. “New sites have been added in Fort Worth too and we expect to have the UNT Zero Energy Lab in Denton on the Tour as well.”

The Westbrook Home in Fairview includes a variety of renewable features.

While this is not the first year the Leed designed Plano Environmental Education Center is on the tour, the last time was in 2014.  

Litwins said he is “excited to have the EEC back on the Tour this year and visitors can look forward to touring and learning about this unique venue once again.”

DFW Solar Tour Westbrook HomeBeth Johnson and Larry Howe will both be giving presentations throughout the day at the Plano Environmental Education Center. Johnson’s presentations will focus on the benefits of green features, for both new and retrofitted homes. Howe will present Solar 101 information for tour visitors considering solar for their homes. 

The Plano EEC will also have a Tesla display, but Litwins pointed out it is not a "drive event" like last year.

As for the homes featured on the tour, Litwins said Paul Westbrook's home in Fairview is a real standout.  Westbrook’s home eco-features include passive solar design SIP construction, solar electric PV and active solar hot water heating, ground source geothermal heat pump, an energy recovery ventilator, standing seam metal root, rain water harvesting and low water use landscape. Mike Renner's off-the-grid home in Weatherford is also considered one of the must-see stops. Vistors who sign the Renner House sign-in sheet are eligible to win a complete portable solar charging system.

The tour DFW Solar Tour is organized by the non-profit, volunteer-based North Texas Renewable Energy Group in cooperation with the Texas Solar Energy Society and the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour. The National Solar tour is the largest grassroots solar event in the nation, involving about 150,000 participants and 5,000 solar-energy sites nationwide.  

DFW Solar Tour

About: Free self-guided tour hosted by the North Texas Renewable Energy Group showcasing homes, businesses and municipal buildings with solar and other renewable features. 

When: Oct. 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check individual locations for hours.

Where: 50 locations across North Texas


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