> Environmentally Responsible Living
>Frank Schiavo, a Lecturer in the Environmental Studies department
>at San Jose State University, has been active in the environmental
>movement since 1975.
>He has received numerous awards for outstanding teaching, has been
>a keynote speaker for Earth Day celebrations (1990, 1994, 1996),
>and is well known for his work in passive solar home design.
>Frank will discuss the latest advances in environmentally responsible
>living, including the increasingly popular use of solar photovoltaic
>systems and other techniques for living lightly on the land.
Frank Schiavo began his talk by making sure we were all in the right place. "This is a lecture on solar design. Is anybody expecting to hear about History? Art? Law? English?" Seeing no hands, he continued "Jesus taught for three years, Martin Luther King, Jr., taught for 14 years, and Budda taught for 7 years. This is education, and I've been teaching for 39 years."
Schiavo then picked up a model of a solar home and explained that the three basic kinds of solar are solar water heating, solar electric panels, and passive solar, meaning that there are plenty of south facing windows, which have gables that protect them from the sun when it is directly overhead, but not so overhanging that they prevent winter sun, which is much lower from coming in. He further explained that passive solar can be optimized for by having the sunlight fall on dark slate floors, which have enough thermal mass to hold the heat of the sun long enough to make the place comfortable for a full dark cycle under most conditions.
He then showed us an eleven minute video that featured three homes that he had done a lot of design work on. One was in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one in Los Gatos, and one in Saratoga. All were attractive buildings with attractive interiors, and the soundtrack assured us they were comfortable year round, with low power bills. Big windows were a big part of the design on two of them. One had a "clear story" where the upper bank of windows spilled light on some big brown water tanks, which were there because water has excellent heat storage capacities. Another interesting home feature was an "airlock," or a vestibule between the front door and the home, so that heat was not lost to the external world every time the door was opened during the winter.
The rest of the hour was spent on Q&A, Some highlights of which were:
Cool Roofs - This is a new program for businesses, where they spray a couple of inches of insulation on top of the roof and then paint it white, or a similar bright light color. This cuts down a lot on the cooling bill in the summer.
The California Legislature recently increased the rebate on adding solar power to a home from 33% to 50%. This means that what was already a good deal is now a great deal. If enough of us go for it, we might not need any power plants.
Lots of people, particularly the electronics people in the valley that seem to have all come from out of state, don't know that a generation ago this valley was orchards as far as the eye could see, just like the far corners of Napa County still are.