Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County is happy to continue our partnership in 2020 with Ecotech Solar to offer two more FREE solar workshops for homeowners interested in learning about adding solar power to their homes. As with the workshops we hosted last fall, with every home solar installation sold, Ecotech will donate one solar panel to be installed at Habitat’s Telegraph Townhomes Community in Bellingham. To date, Ecotech has donated 14 panels to Telegraph, with more on the way.
The following two workshops will be held in February:
Wednesday, February 12th
5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
610 3rd Street, Blaine
Saturday, February 29th
10:00 a.m. to noon
Unity Spiritual Center
1095 Telegraph Road, Bellingham
Founded in 2004 by Dana Brandt (profiled in an earlier Newsletter story), Ecotech Solar, a locally owned and operated solar contractor, is partnering with us to bring solar power to Habitat’s 52-unit flagship housing development, the Telegraph Townhomes Community.
Telegraph is a purpose-built 52-unit community of townhomes designed with the core Habitat building goal of “a hand-up, not a handout,” by building safe, simple, decent, affordable homes. Habitat strives to build homes with a “net-zero-ready” energy plan, using appropriate technology whenever possible. As a result, Habitat homes cost less than $20/month to heat, on average. Energy planning remains at the center of every Habitat home design.
How have the workshops been going? “They’ve been a lot of fun,” said Ty Chang (pictured above), Design and Sales Representative at Ecotech Solar. “It’s been great to see people’s interest, in solar and in batteries, and also the overlap between solar and Habitat for Humanity.
“Especially the last workshop we held at the Unity Spiritual Center on Telegraph Road, right across the street from Habitat’s construction site,” he continued. “People got to walk over and get a tour of the Telegraph Townhomes after we finished the workshop. So, the connection between the workshops and the building program and Habitat’s Mission was entirely evident there.”
There’s a natural connection between solar and Habitat’s building program because of the “net-zero-ready” approach to building energy-efficient homes (also known as “Habitat Passive” building) that we’ve been doing for the past four years. In 2020, we’ll be exploring even more energy-driven designs and planning, adding to our overall program as we address the local housing crisis. Especially important will be the emphasis on the Climate Action Plan Task Force’s 2035 “renewable energy goals,” in which Habitat hopes to play a leadership role.
The interest in solar in our community remains high. “People are really excited, if for nothing else, to come to each workshop to learn about solar and hear more about Habitat’s work in Whatcom County,” said Chang. “There have even been some questions about how to make solar work for a tiny home or for shared living situations. People have asked questions about progress made in the solar industry, and here in Washington locally.”
“Our largest workshop so far has been one we did last fall at the Unity Spiritual Center,” said Hillary Pritchard, Community Outreach Director at Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, and driving force behind the Go Solar Campaign. “The people who come to our workshops are really engaged,” she continued. “We’ve been using these workshops as an educational tool, to answer people’s questions about solar, and to help people set up a home assessment.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” she said. “Workshop attendees are really excited that the solar panels we’ll be putting on Telegraph are for the community’s energy costs. Even if they’re installed on only one of the roofs of some of the buildings, they’re not helping just one home buyer, they’ll be helping the entire community. These panels will greatly offset all the community’s energy costs, including for street lighting, walkway lighting, signage lighting, any irrigation systems, a lighted bike-storage area, any of the energy costs outside of a family’s home.”
This energy efficiency will help Habitat home buyers, Kulshan home buyers, all the families living in the Telegraph Townhomes Community. And the potential is upwardly scalable. There’s no set limit to how much solar energy Habitat can add to Telegraph.
“A perfect example will be the Community Center,” said Pritchard. “If we start with the panels we have now, with the first homes we’re building now, putting them to use offsetting those current energy costs, we can always add more panels when energy needs increase when we add the Community Center.”
[Every cash gift we receive at Habitat, no matter how small, returns when each Habitat home buyer makes their monthly mortgage payments. This enables us to purchase more supplies for another home. Habitat’s core value, “a hand-up, not a hand-out,” means that every penny is repaid. Please consider pledging $5 per month.]