Ready-made solar houses

 

COLORADO AND THE WEST
Wouldn't it be grand if you could live in a house that never racked up a single electric bill? Some homeowners have pursued that goal by retrofitting their homes with solar or wind power, though it's not easy to achieve the wondrous state of "net-zero" -- defined as any building that produces at least as much energy as it consumes. But now, you can choose such a house right off the shelf, so to speak, from some local developers, reports the Denver Post. Though they're not cheap, they're not out of bounds for families with a couple of incomes. Denver-based New Town Builders, for instance, offers a $424,000 model with rooftop solar panels, guaranteed to "generate enough extra power to offset utility costs." There is one hitch, however: Mortgage underwriters "typically do not take into account energy-saving features that boost purchase prices," and New Town says the solar panels add $26,900 to the cost of its net-zero houses. Help might be on the way from Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who has introduced a bill directing federal mortgage-loan agencies to consider the expected reductions in energy costs when calculating loan costs. His bill, called SAVE, for Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act, awaits a hearing in the Senate Banking Committee. While it may take time for buyers to seek out net-zero homes, John Bringenberg of SunTalk, a company that installs solar panels, predicts that in a decade, every house will have some solar component: "A house isn't going to just sit there in the sun; it will generate electricity."

UTAH AND THE WEST
More good green news comes from a city that was smart enough back in the mid-'90s to start planning a more sustainable future, reports Governing magazine. In a community effort called "Envision Utah," Salt Lake City residents planned 40 and even 50 years ahead. Goals included reducing sprawl and driving time, cutting down on air pollution and retaining the precious open space near the mountains. They concentrated on planning for "higher-density developments around mass-transit stops" -- creating places where cars could be abandoned in favor of walking or taking light-rail trains or streetcars to work, stores and school. If that vision holds, the Greater Wasatch area -- a narrow, 120-mile strip where about 80 percent of Utah's population lives -- will "conserve 23 square miles of open space, reduce traffic congestion by 18 percent, and increase (mass) transit use by 12 percent," predicts the federal Housing and Urban Development agency.

ARIZONA
Thanks to the 23-to-30-foot-high fence across the Nogales border with Mexico, the Tucson Weekly finds that marijuana smugglers and U.S. Border Patrol have begun playing a vigorous "game" that resembles a blend of monkey-in-the-middle and football. "There are quarterbacks in Mexico and receivers in the U.S.," said Lt. Gerardo Castillo of the Santa Cruz County Metro Task Force. "We try to intercept, obviously."

High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.