Friday, August 7, 2009

Time lapse video: Common Ground Solar array installation

At the beginning of July we finished the installation of our 33.8 kW solar electric array that will, we hope, provide all the electricity for our zero-net community throughout the year. Since it went in, it's been making more electricity than our community consumes! (But, it's still summer...). Most of the work for this project was done by interns and volunteers, with the company Power Trip supplying the equipment and expertise. Thanks to the Washington State Solar Production incentive we earn $0.15 for every kWh we generate, which is helping to pay back the system cost, and thanks to Opalco (our utility company) and to an anonymous donor for helping make the systems financially possible. Eric Youngren set up the solar powered time-lapse video equipment and posted the video.

System stats:
11 separate arrays, each 3 kW array comprises 15 Evergreen 205 Watt Modules (ES-A-210), making 165 solar panels in total. Panels are installed on ground-mount unirack racking.  Each system uses a SMA Sunny Boy 3000US grid-intertie inverter mounted on the solar panel rack next to each array converts the direct current (DC) electricity from that array’s solar panels to 240 volt alternating current (AC) electricity. The AC electricity from each inverter is passes through a production(kWh) meter, and then connects into each home’s electrical mains panel.

A conservative production estimate for each 3 kW system is 3075 kWh/yr per 3 KW system, or a total of 33,825 kWh/yr for the entire project – and is enough to provide each household’s annual electricity needs if the household is conscientious about electricity use. So far on sunny days each 3 kW system is making about 20 kWh per day.

Equipment supplied by Power Trip. Power Trip pulled the permits on two systems. Residents pulled permits on the other 9, with residents and volunteers doing the work on these 9 systems.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Common Ground's first on-site vision meeting

We held our first meeting vision this evening, down by the pond. Started with a potluck dinner and an outpouring of volunteer spirit to dig 67 holes needed for the fence.

Here are some of the 'visions' of our group:

Spacious open feeling
Abundance - Herbs, flowers
Fun: Playground
Life: Water flowing, paths, solar water features
Career and professional life is supported and showcased here.
Learning from one another

Individuals helping one another
Wealth in friendship and help

Knowing each other Deeply from the years together, the ups and downs of life

Feeling like family to one another - no discrimination

Intern (Eric?)
Children have a greater experience living amongst a larger family

Food: Paths are a feast of food and companionship
Continuance of sharing our space with the greater community and greater

Being open with oneself and sharing oneself with neighbors
Keep awareness of what we do and how it affects the larger community

Our front houses facing one another: openness to each other
Able to say what we need for full respectfulness in our lives

A new family feeling vulnerable - giving faith to the process of this
Trees, dappled sun places to be together and alone
A dock into the pond

Our house feels like it is shared as part of the community
Our community is a model for others to look at

More self contained - cocooned
Lots of kids

Homebound - likes to be able to see coming and going. Likes paths enveloped
around her

Likes the site layout
Feels like the community is much larger than it is

Has exceeded his expectations
Closeness and genuineness
Feels secure and warm here
Thankful to be here

Cultural diversity
We provide comfort

A sign "Common Ground"
Atauri gate
A Totem
Sacred grounds

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Video about this project -- early stages

Lopez Community Land Trust

Back in 2008 Laura Goldhamer made this fantastic video about the project. I'm floored when I watch it, and then compare it with the reality of these homes now all built! As I write this, the solar PV system is being constructed -- the last major component of the project except the permaculture landscaping.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We've been living in our Common Ground home for about a month and a half now. The photo on the right gives a sense of scale of the 11 homes of Common Ground. I love the proximity to the village, and the way that our children Ty and Sara can roam safely and play with their friends. I feel that so much of the urban/suburban world is crying out for this type of living arrangment: pocket communities, zero-net energy goal, built in-part with the love and sweat of the community that lives here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It was cold when we were installing these solar water heating tubes, but the water they've been providing has been toasty! We turned off our electric heating element in our hot water tank when we moved in April, and have had plenty of very hot water -- all from the sun!

Yay for solar water! It's such a pleasure to take a hot bath or hot shower and know that no electricity was used to heat the water.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

View from the field

Things are moving right along! The photo shows how the project looks as of the first week in December. These days a hearty crew of interns, residents and the occasional building partner are part of a marathon effort to shingle buildings.

Inside, Juan is doing sheet rock and mudding, and Karen, Saba, Mik, Faith and others are srubbing floors and painting.

This photo was taken on a brilliant sunny day. We've been blessed with pretty nice weather, but there have been some miserable rainy and windy days as well!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cider pressing! Harvest time

Common Ground residents and interns went to Orcas Island at the invitation of Maile and Ed to pick apples and press cider. Maile and Ed also gave us some beautiful baby trees to start our Common Ground orchard. Someday we'll have apples, currents, figs, jostaberry, and plums all growing at new home!