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Useful geeky websites

April 21, 2010
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Tom and I, along with the majority of our profession, often sit through continuing education seminars. Some are better than others. Some we attend for the free lunch and for the credits, a few others because the topic is actually applicable. When we saw this one, ‘Architectural Roofing and Energy Efficiencies Seminar’, we went for both the topic and the lunch. It sounded like it was written specifically for us.

We came away with some new information about how to incorporate Photovoltaic’s (PV) into the roof system to generate energy.

PV roof installation

This product looked very interesting- thin black panels of flexible plastic that can cover a lot of the roof. But, it is still in the early phases of development. In this particular product, the PV film is adhered to the roof membrane. It isn’t yet a no-brainer kind of deal- definitely not for DIY, but meant for the big guys. You’d need to be sure to get the details just right to make it sing, or there could be some very happy lawyers. It appears that the thing meant to suck in all the sun’s power can get so hot that it can melt the roof membrane. It is still relatively expensive, so the return on the investment could be pretty steep, especially since, if you need to replace the roofing, the PV’s get trashed. The technology continues to rapidly progress, but there are some bugs to get worked out. Likely, in 5-years, you’ll be seeing this kind of thing all over large institutional buildings. Unfortunately, we can’t wait for 5-years for our project, but it is great to hear about where things are heading. We will keep an eye on these innovations and hopefully will incorporate them over time.

We did come away with some useful information to share. Here are some interesting Free! web-base tools we learned about today:

Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy: http://www.dsireusa.org/ This is a comprehensive, frequently updated source for governmental incentives to add renewable energy to your building.

Sharp Solar Calculator: http://sharpusa.cleanpowerestimator.com/sharpusa.htm This tool from Sharp, the company that brings you those light powered calculators, uses your local information to generate the value of a solar system for you.

Dew-point analysis software: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/btc/apps/moisture/index.html Geek alert! This is the free version of a much larger program that can calculate the point of condensation (dew-point) within a wall cavity, helping us to decide where vapor barriers need to be placed so the mold monsters don’t take over. Have you ever watched Holmes on Homes on HGTV? Those knuckleheads could really use something like this.

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