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Founded in 1979, Solar Oregon is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit membership organization providing public education and community outreach to encourage Oregonians to choose solar energy.
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Green and Solar Tour 2007

Green and Solar Tour 2007

Oregon Green and Solar Tours
Living the solar revolution in Oregon
By Tania Parks, Oregon Green and Solar Tours Coordinator, Solar Oregon


In response to the energy crisis of the 1970’s, a few forward thinking communities took the initiative to promote energy conservation, passive solar design, and solar systems by establishing the first Oregon Green and Solar Tours.   Homeowners opened up their homes for people to see and experience a green and solar home.  Over its 30 year history, the annual tours have become an amazing cooperative effort now involving 18 communities across Oregon.  They are now one of the most successful and collaborative events of its kind in the nation!  

Each tour reflects the unique interests of the community, yet all share a common goal:  to educate the public about green and solar strategies.  They provide an invaluable opportunity to tour homes and buildings that showcase a variety of green and solar design features.  Tours occur across Oregon from September 15th through October 20th, most coincide with the National Solar Tour on Saturday October 6th, 2007.  To find a tour in your community visit:  www.solaroregon.org/resources_education/solar-home-tours.

The tours have become Oregon’s most effective outreach tool to educate people about energy conservation, green building, and renewable energy.  The tours show that solar works in Oregon, and there is no need to compromise comfort or lifestyle to work and live in a green and solar building.  Participants can learn firsthand the benefits of building with green and solar techniques, and lessons learned by the owners, builders and architects during the process.  A key component to Oregon’s success is the Green + Solar Building Oregon magazine - a nationally recognized resource produced by 3EStrategies,  and two annual solar fairs:  SolWest Renewable Energy Fair (John Day, July 27-29th) and the NW Solar Expo (Portland, September 14-16th).

Key supporters of the tours include the Oregon Department of Energy, 3EStrategies, Energy Trust of Oregon, and Solar Oregon, plus volunteers throughout the state who coordinate a tour in their community.  The excellent success, growth, and continuity of the tours would not be possible without their dedicated support.  They truly deserve a huge thanks for their efforts!

Tour Beginnings
Solar tours in Oregon began around 1979 as part of the national Sun Day celebration.  Each tour had unique roots serving various educational needs within the community, yet the driving force behind each was a strong, coordinated response to the ‘70’s energy crisis.  In 1980 many communities began aligning their tours with Earth Day and Earth Week events.  

Groups that coordinated these early tours included Solar Oregon Lobby, League of Women Voters, and Solar Energy Resources Group, plus city governments and small local utilities.  Chapters of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) also coordinated tours in various communities including:  Pacific Northwest Solar Energy Association, Columbia Solar Energy Association, Willamette Valley Solar Energy Association, Solar Energy Association of Oregon (now Solar Oregon) plus early chapters in Pendleton and Medford.

In the early 1990’s, the National Solar Tour was formed by Real Goods, consisting of individual home tours around the country that registered to be a part of the national effort.  In 1996 the National Solar Tour sponsorship shifted to ASES.  The infrastructure of the ASES chapters offered an opportunity to connect community tours around the country since they already were coordinating tours within their state.  At that time, many Oregon tour dates shifted to join the National Solar Tour in the fall.

Solar Tour Resurgence
Oregon’s annual tours began a major transformation in 2001 when the first solar tour grants were provided by the Oregon Department of Energy and the Million Solar Roofs grant program.  This effort was a collaboration between 3EStrategies, Energy Trust of Oregon, EORenew, and Solar Oregon.  At the same time, the Oregon Million Solar Roofs Coalition was formed to collaborate and advance the use of green and solar strategies in Oregon, and the Oregon Department of Energy and 3EStrategies began offering coordination and media support to individual tours.  

In 2006, the Oregon Green and Solar Tours were a great success with statewide attendance at over 3,000 people - up from 2,500 in 2005 - who visited 117 green and solar sites in 14 communities around the state.  Most communities experienced better tour attendance including an unexpected increase in visitors from around the region who recognized the Oregon tours as a valuable source for green and solar information which is unavailable in their state.  Participants also expressed a greater interest in installing a solar system after attending a tour.  Three new communities joined the statewide tours:  West Linn, Newberg, and Newport.  The tours also benefited greatly from the creation of the Statewide Tour Coordinator role provided by Solar Oregon.

The 2007 Tour will be just as exciting!  Four new tours - including Salem, Coos Bay, Rogue Valley, Portland Goal Net Zero (Spring 2008) – are joining the statewide effort for a total of 18 tours.  Solar Oregon is once again fulfilling the Statewide Tour Coordinator role providing coordination and media support to tour organizers, and connecting local tours to regional and national tour efforts promoting green building and solar strategies.  This year the tours will continue to grow with the formation of a common identity and the development of a sponsorship package.  

 

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