Low Energy Home Storytelling - Insight & Inspiration for 1000 Home Challenge Projects

Peter Troast did a great blog summarizing the pros and cons of different options/formats


Chime in here with your experience or links to examples of low energy home storytelling done well.





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I recieved news from David Bolt's Sustainable Future company in Tennessee about an upcoming event, and followed the links. Their website summarizes  their residential projects.  There is a good variety of applications and homeowner motivations.   http://sustainablefuture.biz/success-stories/residential

 Good PV incentives from TVA are referenced; in the project snapshots it is not clear what they are. I did not check the rest of the website for that info. One case study is more detailed; it references a net zero electric retrofit, with additional info about reducing the home's electrical loads. It wasn't until I got to the end of the description that I realized that this house uses wood for space heat. While the decription was accurate in its title, a reader could miss the fact that the home is not all electric. 

It would be great to include more info from each project to better understand how the PV production is atacking up against energy use, with clear info on both the absolute electricity consumption and whole house energy use, as well as percent reduction.  

I first met David Bolt when he presented at the 2008 ACI conference in Pittsburgh. The point he reinforced was the importance of having an energy budget as a guide, and then tracking energy use and production against that budget. That is an integral component recommended for projects entering the Thousand Home Challenge.



Awesome house and pictures James!  1/4 the sf cost of uphill house, pretty impressive! 

Josh and Peter's stuff is good as always.  

Thanks for Petcha Kucha Chris.  

We just approved the applications for the 18th and 19th homes to meet the Thousand Home Challenge.

I will post a case study on the 18th project shortly.

Here is the link to the google doc that tells the story of the 19th project, the Monahan Zero Energy Home in NM - the first Thousand Home Challenge project from the south west. 



The 1950's, 1,600 square foot home was purchased in 2009. Seth Down's OPTION B 1000 Home Challenge threshold is 4,074 kWh. With the help of the 3.84 kW PV system the all electric house is generating more electricity than it uses.  


Thanks Linda and Peter. 

I was impressed at last year's BECC hearing from a group at USC that works with Hollywood script writers to add in little story snippits to their scripts, for example about being an organ donor, in order to change people's behavior. The program has been very effective. (As a big Notre Dame fan, it was hard to admit that our nemesis USC does some things really well). People have a trust relationship with some of the characters they see every day on TV and in the movies, so the message often slips in past our normal defenses. We need defenses, especially with all the info we are all barraged with.

A good story, I think, changes people's attitudes. Then comes the behavior change.

I proposed a panel for this year's BECC (Peter my join us) that would focus on the power of story and ritual in religious (something I know a lot about having been a Catholic priest) and other traditions to transform people's attitudes, change their whole worldview. I know of course that religious institutions something abuse the trust people give them.

I'm hoping though that we can learn from the religious traditions how we can bring about a transformation of some very basic attitudes many of us share about the earth, it's resources, and our fellow creatures. Stories have the power to connect us to one another. It's a problem when the connections are too narrow, such as to a cult, or a class of people, and separate us too much from those who aren't part of the group.

So we have to aim big in connecting and in our experiences of community—to the Earth and each other (what the heck, I'm a Californian, to the whole Universe! (I saw the movie "Contact" four times.)

We recently added some new case studies and links to Thousand Home Challenge-related projects on our website .http://thousandhomechallenge.com/case-studies

I am interested in your feedback on Seth Down's approach to his case study,Calle del Corte NZE - Google Drive He used a google doc,  and the viewer can dive deeper by going into back-up documents that are linked. 

Seth has achieved a high performance home that is exporting energy and is doing a great job of telling the story.

Check out this case study of the 19th project to meet the Thousand Home Challenge that uses  Google Drive as its platform.

Monahan Zero Net Energy Home

What I like about this format is the option of providing access to additional documents that are linked to the presentation. This gives folks the opportunity to view the project at more than one level.  Plus it keeps the source documents in one place.

Here is the project description:

Located in Albuquerque, NM this 1950 vintage ranch home is the 19th project to officially meet the Thousand Home Challenge and the first one from the southwest. When purchased in 2009 this 1,600 home featured no insulation, no heat, no water, and no southern exposure. Find out why the owner claims his biggest mistake was the replacement of hazardous floor heaters with a 90% high efficiency central gas furnace. The project included insulation on all six sides, windows, doors, high efficiency appliances, two ductless heat pumps, and 3.8 kW PV system. Upgrade costs and pre and post energy performance are summarized in the case study.

Feel free to weigh in on either the process for telling the story or the project itself.


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