Events

Solar Austin February Happy Hour: Tour of Austin Central Library Green Features

We’re switching things up a bit for our February happy hour.  We won’t be at Scholz Garten this month, so don’t go there, or you’ll be lonely.

Instead, we hope you’ll join us for an expert-guided look at the green features – including the on-site solar energy system – of the Austin Central Library. This LEED Platinum-certified building opened late October 2017 has the distinction of being the first new building with a solar array on the downtown sector of the electric grid, which comes with added complications.

Because we want to do the tour before it gets dark, we’ll be starting our program a bit earlier than usual. The presentation will start at 5:45, but please join us even if you’ll be a bit late.


When:
Tuesday, February 26, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Demonstration Area 1st floor Austin Central Library (710 W Cesar Chavez St)
RSVP now!

The lead architect Jonathan Smith, of Lake Flato Architects, and solar designer Bungane Mehlomakulu, of Integral Group, will be leading the tour and discussion.

Get more information and RSVP here.

We hope to see you at the library!

Solar Austin Board of Directors

 

More about the Speakers: 

Jonathan Smith, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is an Associate Partner at Lake Flato Architects. Jonathan’s designs foster meaningful and lasting relationships between building occupants and the natural environment, demonstrating excellence in the art of building, the science of sustainability and love for the natural landscape. Jonathan has a strong passion for transformative projects that have an impact beyond their property lines through environmental sustainability, performance-based design and response to climate. Jonathan was Project Architect on the LEED Platinum 180,000 square foot new Central Library in his hometown of Austin, Texas. In 2018 the Austin Central Library was named one of Time Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places. Jonathan is currently working on projects in Texas, California and Hawaii.

Bungane Mehlomakulu, PE, LEED AP BD+C, is a Managing Principal at Integral Group in Austin. Bungane is a design principal working at the boundary between architecture, engineering, and sustainability to deliver a balanced, efficient, and meaningful services to customers and clients. His passion for sustainable building design and operation made him an expert in passive strategies including natural ventilation, daylight harvesting, plug load reductions, and solar control and the application of energy efficient technologies, including radiant floors, displacement ventilation, and chilled beams.

3rd Annual Solar Austin Holiday Party

Our Annual Solar Achievement Award goes to H-E-B Grocery Company, LP this year. We chose to honor H-E-B for their stand out Hurricane Harvey relief work and extensive adoption and support of clean energy. Tickets are $25, $15 for students with valid ID, or $30 at the door and include a drink and appetizers. Get yours now to join us for a fun night supporting clean energy and good local jobs while honoring H-E-B’s support for solar power and victims of Hurricane Harvey!

Friday, December 15th, 7 – 10 p.m.
Friends & Allies Brewing Company, 979 Springdale Road #124
RSVP here.

H-E-B immediately donated $100,000 for Harvey relief, subsequently providing other monetary and volunteer support, the company’s mobile kitchens, and more that 1,000 truckloads of water in the first 72 hours of the crisis to support victims of Hurricane Harvey—support estimated to be worth a total of $3 million. On top of H-E-B’s generous disaster relief support, the company has spent over $10 million implementing solar power systems in 20 of its Austin-area stores and 2 distribution centers, which will be able to produce 4.9 millions kWh of energy per year and brings the retailer’s overall solar energy production to 12.1 million kilowatt-hours per year. Additionally, H-E-B donated $1 million to the San Antonio River Foundation to help fund Confluence Park, a project which will serve as a learning destination to teach visitors about sustainability and conservation practices like solar power and rainwater harvesting.

Live music by Jenny Parrott and her band!

 

 

Please join us to celebrate!

Bluebonnet Solar Tour

Solar Austin is excited to co-host the second Bluebonnet Solar Tour in partnership with the Texas Solar Energy Society and the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative as part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour. The event will start at 9:00 a.m. at the Bluebonnet Eco Home in Brenham.  The Eco Home was built to demonstrate energy and water efficient building techniques, as well as the use of on-site solar and wind energy, geothermal heating and cooling, and rainwater collection. 

There will be a short Solar 101 presentation, a tour of the Eco Home, and solar installation companies on site to provide additional information.  Bluebonnet Electric Co-op representatives will explain how their process works to connect a solar installation to the grid, and how co-op members are compensated for the energy they produce. 

Free breakfast tacos, coffee and juice will be provided.  Attendees will also be entered to win a solar backpack, which can charge your phone after a sunny walk.

The self-guided tour of nearby homes with different types of solar setups will give attendees the opportunity to see solar in action. Homeowners, installers and Bluebonnet employees will be on hand at each home to talk about the installation process and answer questions.

WHAT: Bluebonnet Solar Tour
WHEN: Saturday, September 9, 9 a.m.
WHERE: 2601 Longwood Dr, Brenham, TX 77833

RSVP and get any last-minute updates here. 

And please invite any Bluebonnet Electric Co-op members you may know!

August Happy Hour: Mayor Adler on Cities & Climate Change

With every passing day, society’s reliance on fossil fuels further exacerbates the climate change crisis. The reality of climate change impacts on central Texas is sobering—unless we move past fossil fuels, even more severe storms, droughts, and extreme heat will become the new normal.

Knowing these facts while watching Trump pull the US from the Paris climate Change agreement was horrifying. Fortunately, Trump’s decision has served to galvanize many local leaders to redouble their action—Austin Mayor Steve Adler is one of those local climate leaders reaffirming commitment to the Paris Accord. Solar Austin is excited to present Mayor Adler as our August Happy Hour speaker.

August 22, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten 
1607 San Jacinto St.

Mayor Adler will share his views on the decision to pull out of the Paris agreement and how Austin fits in among a coalition of cities both taking action right now and planning future efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and general environmental impact.

Austin’s Community Climate Plan provides a roadmap for the Austin community to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2050 through efforts to reduce and hopefully eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production, natural gas, transportation, solid waste management and industrial processes. Action items include investing in renewable energy, investment in energy storage, mass transit, expanding composting, and promulgation of electric vehicles and smart grid technologies.

Join us to hear from Mayor Adler about Austin’s efforts to reduce the community’s impact on the climate and what you can do to make a difference.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Smart Inverters and Distributed Energy Resources for a Smarter Grid

As solar and other renewable energy technologies spread further throughout society, effectively connecting these distributed means of generation to current transmission infrastructure and expanding and modernizing the grid become ever more pressing issues. Solar Austin is excited to present our July Happy Hour speaker, Raghu Belur, the co-cofounder of Enphase, who will tell us more about the exciting advancements in smart inverter, smart grid, and distributed energy resources technology, particularly as related to the residential market. Enphase has also generously provided for food and drinks at this month’s happy hour.

July 25, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten 
1607 San Jacinto St.
 
Raghu has more than 20 years of experience in the clean energy and high technology industries. Prior to Enphase, he developed high-speed optical communication technology for Cerent, which was later acquired by Cisco Systems for $7 billion. Before Cerent, Raghu was an engineer at the Indian Institute of Science, where he played a key role in the development of an alternative energy gasification system. He co-founded Enphase Energy with Martin Fornage in 2006.  Raghu has a MSEE from Texas A&M University and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
  
Because solar and wind energy are both distributed and intermittent, power generated from these sources must be closely monitored in order to ensure reliability of the electric grid and efficient delivery of electricity. This means that cutting-edge technology must be used to upgrade old transmission infrastructure. Solar panel systems, however, require an additional layer of complexity because they only produce direct current electricity. These systems are connected to inverters, which convert the electricity produced to alternating current so that it can be fed into a specific building’s electric system or into the local grid. Although inverters can be expensive and add further complexity to an electric system, “smart” inverters and other new technology can allow us to control and automate specific electrical systems and extremely fine resolution of the grid to make the grid more resilient.
 
Smarter inverters and other new transmission infrastructure can help renewable resources to further penetrate into the market and promulgate throughout the grid—an essential foundation for expanding renewable energy generation to fight air pollution and climate change, mushroom the number of local clean energy jobs, and provide solar to even more people.