The eighth annual DFW Solar Tour will be held Oct. 7 across 30 sites in DFW. TreeHouse, the new green home improvement, store is one of seven education centers on the tour. Photos courtesy of North Texas Renewable Energy Group.

Oct. 2, 2017

Every year, the DFW Solar Tour, hosted by the North Texas Renewable Energy Group, has grown in size and scope.

Plano Environmental Education CenterLast year’s tour tracked more than 600 visitors at 50 sites from Weatherford to Allen.

It's become a massive undertaking with organizers lining up dozens of homes, businesses and municipal buildings with solar installations and enlisting an army of volunteers to share real-life experiences without high-pressure sales pitches.

The Plano Environmental Education Center, designed by green architect Gary Olp, will host Soulgood, a vegetarian/vegan food truck.

As a result, organizers decided they were spreading themselves too thin. So for this year's event on Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the number of venues has been scaled back, while the bells and whistles have been increased. 

“We felt like we had too many residences and sites last year,” said Robert Litwins, co-organizer of the tour. “The number of visitors per stop went down. So we decided to focus more on education centers, based on the positive feedback we received.”

This year, the self-guided tour, held in conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour, has dropped to 30 sites. However, seven of those sites are designated education centers, featuring presentations and demonstrations along with a vegetarian food truck.


Solar panels at IKEA FriscoThe seven education centers include IKEA Frisco, Irving West Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Plano Environmental Education Center, the da Vinci School, TreeHouse Dallas and UNT Zero Energy Lab.

In addition to their own remarkable features, each education center will offer opportunities for event-goers to learn about green building and eco-friendly living. 

Here are some of the highlights:

TreeHouse, a nominee for this year’s Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Awards, is a new stop on the DFW Solar tour. The eco-friendly home improvement store in Dallas opened in June and is soon opening a venue in Plano. The 100-percent solar-powered home improvement store sells Sunpower solar systems and Tesla Power Packs. Renowned green realtor Beth Johnson, with Keller Williams Realty, will be giving presentations on green homes and renovations at the store throughout the day.  

At the Irving West Library, longtime local environmental advocate Fran Witte will be operating a solar cooking demonstration.

At the Plano Environmental Education Center, tour-goers can peruse the LEED Platinum campus, then grab a bite at the Soulgood food truck, which will be selling plant-based fast food. Visitors can also see a solar car built by the Winston School of Dallas.

IKEA in Frisco will be giving tours of its rooftop solar.

Bonton FarmsThe Martin Luther King Jr Community Center will offer classes on rain barrels and solar energy as well as a shuttle to Bonton Farms, a South Dallas urban farm that services a surrounding food desert.

The MLK Jr Community Center will host a shuttle to Bonton Farms, urban farm.

The da Vinci School will feature guided tours of their LEED Gold preschool and kindergarten facility. 

Those up for a trek to Denton will get a chance to see the University of North Texas Zero Energy Lab, which is used to conduct research in various energy-related fields, such as alternative energy technology, energy storage, energy management, human comfort, the impact of weather and environmental friendly materials. The building is designed to be “net zero,” which means that the energy used over the course of a year should be less than or equal to the energy produced over that same year.

UNT Zero Energy LabThe UNT Zero Energy Lab in Denton is part of the tour.

Another highlight of the tour will be a peek at the new Goodwork Coworking, set to open later this year. The green coworking venue is also a nominee for this year’s Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Awards. While GoodWork is not a designated education center, GoodWork cofounder Amy King promises a hard hat construction tour of 1808 S Good Latimer where you'll meet Sunfinity Solar and learn about the facility's future solar installation.

“You can also get a quick building tour from cofounder of GoodWork and renowned environmental architect Gary Olp, to see and hear about the sustainability features of this active renovation,” she said.

DFW Solar Tour

About: Free self-guided tour showcasing homes, businesses and municipal buildings with solar panels and other eco-friendly features. Opportunties to talk to homeowners and solar advocates about energy savings, cost, installation and rebates with regard to solar and other renewable energy sources. Presentations, demos, food truck and tours at seven education centers. 

When: Oct 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Check individual venues for hours.)

Where: 30 locations throughout DFW, with 7 education centers.


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