NorCal Solar August Newsletter


A message from the President

Hello NorCal Solar Community,

The 9th edition of our Solar Energy Resource Guide (SERG) is out! It’s an 80-page primer aimed at people new to solar, seasoned professionals, jobseekers, and homeowners and renters who want help determining how solar works best for them. The SERG includes old topics (basics of PV, solar hot water, and passive solar, how to hire a solar contractor, and financing and payback for solar), and we’ve added new content on community solar, solar cooking, Passive House, fire safety, back-of-the-module PV technologies, net zero energy buildings, and more. We offer deepest thanks to our SERG sponsors: Quick Mount PV, Intersolar North America, PG&E and its Pacific Energy Center, Redwood Alliance, Backwoods Solar, Silicon Valley Power, and EcoBranding Solutions. (Email us at if you’d like one or more copies; we are still setting up the ordering process on our website.)

In May I attended the annual American Solar Energy Society (ASES) conference in Denver. Two tidbits: Ed Mazria, one of the “fathers” of passive solar design, reported that many major architect and engineering firms around the world (which he called the “design brain trust”) are moving rapidly toward designing carbon-neutral buildings. This is a major paradigm shift, and it means more efficient use of energy, more renewable energy, and fewer carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion to operate buildings over their lifespans. Right here in California, the new University of Calif/Merced is to be a carbon-neutral campus.

The second tidbit is more local. Each year ASES names new Fellows of the American Solar Energy Society, people who have moved solar and ASES forward in meaningful ways. Two of the three Fellows inducted in 2012 are long-time NorCal Solar supporters: Jim Augustyn, a solar engineer and author of the solar cat books (based in Berkeley), and Ron Swenson, an innovative big-picture thinker and solar entrepreneur (San Jose/Santa Cruz). In addition, ASES recognized another NorCal Solar member who served as the Chair of ASES: Margot McDonald, professor of architecture at Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo (see photo below). Congratulations!

NorCal Solar took part in the Intersolar conference July 9-13 in San Francisco. We gained some new members – welcome! And we had fun at our various fund-raising events – solar tours and a raffle. Fewer booths than last year in the exhibit hall indicate a solar industry in flux. One large player, Schott Solar, announced just before the conference that it is closing most of its solar business around the world.

Check out our event this month – a tour of a 30 MW PV plant just south of Sacramento, organized and co-hosted by our friends at the US Green Building Council/N. Calif Chapter/Capital Branch. Join us Aug. 23 at 5:30 pm (for details, go to

Lastly, a plea. Fundraising for things such as networking events continues to be a challenge. Please consider a donation to NorCal Solar, a gift membership for someone, or renew your membership. If you’ve never been a member, consider joining now! Visit We will use your generous donation for a much-needed upgrade to our website and for continuing to keep our behind-the-scenes wheels turning. Thank you for all you do.

Here’s to a clean energy future,

Elaine Hebert, NorCal Solar President

To learn more about NorCal Solar, visit their website.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterDigg thisEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *