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Straw Bale Solar, Urbana

At long last, the Urbana Straw Bale House has a solar photovoltaic system! When New Prairie built the house 14 years ago, New Prairie co-owners Julie Birdwell and Jill Mulder would have liked to see solar panels as one part of the many “green” energy features of the home. At that time, the costs were too high and the learning curve too steep — after all, the company was just learning how to build its first straw bale house!

Solar technologies have gotten A LOT cheaper since then — as well as more efficient and reliable — and New Prairie now has its own NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional, Nicholas Gordon, on staff.

The 6.6 kW system was installed on the south and west sides of the roof. The site isn’t ideal for solar panels, but with the highly energy-efficient straw bale walls, the house is producing power to help run both the home and the New Prairie offices in the basement. A couple of dead Ash trees will be removed to help gain more sun.

You can see how the Urbana Straw Bale House panels are performing (and what environmental benefits are gained!) by visiting the Solar Edge portal.

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