Tour of alternative homes scheduled in Lewis County

Tour of alternative homes scheduled in Lewis County

The Sunny Sunday Tour on Sunday will showcase off-grid and grid-tie homes in Lewis county, passive solar, solar hot water heaters, a windmill, alternative vehicles, natural buildings, water catchment systems, organic gardens and more. The tour is in conjunction with the Sonnenschein Green Power Festival to be held in downtown Hohenwald Saturday. The tour is free to residents of Tennessee. Donations are welcome. The tour will commence at 9 a.m. and will end around 5:30 pm. Those planning to attend are asked to register by e-mail at info@holisticecology.org, by phone at (888) 878-2434 Ext. 1 or in person at the Sonnenschein information booth Saturday. Registration is required so a map of the tour route may be supplied. Solar Springs Research Farm is located in Lewis County on 94 acres of mixed oak-hickory hardwood forest is one stop on the tour. The Solar Springs Lodge, owned and built by Jennifer and Matthew English, is a 2,000 square foot timber frame structure with cordwood, adobe and clay/straw infill. They are 100 percent off grid and derive 90 percent of their power from solar, wind and biomass. They acquire the remaining 10 percent from propane and gasoline, which will decrease to 5 percent hopefully within the next year, a spokesman said. They have water catchments that will hold 20,000 gallons of water. The own a second-hand hybrid electric car and their trucks run on ethanol, biodiesel or straight vegetable oil. The furnishings for the Lodge — as well as a good deal of the materials to build it — were pieced together largely from second hand stores, salvage piles, thrift shops and “slightly damaged” bins. Those bought new were recyclable, local, handmade or non-toxic. At Solar Springs, the owners say they are committed to living and sharing their values of sustainability, diversity, creativity and beauty-all modeled in the design and construction of the lodge. “We built it as sustainably as possible with the help of friends over a period of two years using local, natural materials and second-hand or hand-made items,” the owners said. The design is meant to be multifunctional-practical, applicable, adaptable and beautiful, as well as cycling energy back into the living ecosystem of which they are a part. “We designed the lodge creatively, yet with a pleasing aesthetic that we hope feels comfortable and inspiring for people used to conventional building styles. We want others to see that our natural second-hand construction and off-grid living is a real possibility that can be enjoyable and very comfortable. We also kept good track of our receipts to show that building green can be economically savvy too, especially when you calculate money saved over the long term as well as social and environmental costs.” Published in The Messenger 6.6.08

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