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November 2011
Welcome to the November 2011 editon of  "Sundance Power News."
We hope you will find our monthly newsletter to be informative, useful and fun. We do not use this mailing list for anything else and never share recipients’ addresses. You may officially subscribe, unsubscribe or forward to a friend anytime by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.  Please help us to spread the word about Sundance Power Systems and renewable energy. We would love to hear your feedback!
Residential Spotlight: The Home of Jennifer Pickering and Leigh Mayer
Carlos Honeycomb Santana is indeed a lucky cat. A former show taker with a stunning presence, Carlos now lives with Jennifer Pickering and Leigh Mayer on some of the most magical and famed land in the region. That he carries the name of one of music’s most creative legends is no surprise, as Jennifer and Leigh’s passion for the Arts and Music is reflected in every aspect of their lives.
The home that Carlos enjoys is a manifestation of creative design itself, as well as a testimony to the rich heritage and cultural impression of the land’s history.  Overlooking Lake Eden, the property was part of the site of Black Mountain College from 1941 to 1957.  An experimental approach to liberal arts, progressive education, and radical thinking, this institution’s legacy is still alive today. Jennifer said that the Bauhaus influence at the College especially was an inspiration to her, and its elements can be seen in the unique design of her house. Randy Shull, an Asheville artist and designer who worked with Jennifer and Leigh, said “they held true to the philosophy created by Black Mountain faculty and students in the vision for their new home. Jennifer wanted it to be designed by an artist and built by people who held the principles of creativity and design in high regard.” Another visible element, its striking barn red exterior, pays homage to the property’s historic Barn, which is just uphill of the home site.
Jennifer’s connection to the land she grew up on runs deep, but she says that since living in her new space she feels like she is living more with it, rather than just on it. Certainly, that can be credited to the open and airy design, and its interplay with the outdoors. An expanse of large south-facing windows, while functioning as passive a solar design element, opens to an incredible view.  “The more we can stay connected to the land, the better,” she said, and her respect for the environment is seen in her decision to build as sustainably as possible.  Working with Jody Guokas of JAG Builders, energy efficiency and sustainable building materials were integrated to a great degree to construct a comfortable yet low-impact home.  From the first, it was important for Jennifer to have a solar element, and she is pleased that the 3 solar hot water collectors on the roof have such a strong visual component, saying “it makes a statement.”
In looking back on the design/build process, Jennifer said, “building this house was one of the simpliest things I ever did.  We finished ahead of schedule and under- budget.” To most, that seems like an incredible feat, and no doubt great credit is due to the team she engaged for the project.  However, Jennifer’s management skills have definitely been honed over the years, after heading up and organizing the Lake Eden Arts Festival, or LEAF , one of the nation’s foremost (and fun!) festivals. (In 2010, it was one 1 of 2 festivals to receive recognition by the National Endowment for the Arts.)  While music and art are at the heart of this amazing festival, it’s all about connecting people to other cultures. LEAF in Schools & Streets, takes this mission out into the community all year long, and was recently named “Non-Profit Champion of the Year” by Asheville City Schools. A recent article in Verve, featured Jennifer’s vision to expand this work even further.
After pulling off 35 festivals (2 a year) and creating the LEAF community, building a house was just another extension of Jennifer’s amazing energy and her commitment to her place, its legacy, and the great creative world beyond. 
Institutional Spotlight: Bread of Life
“We have a soup kitchen. The simple fare is as plain as our purpose: to share our food with those who have none.”  So reads the humble statement fronting the brochure that describes the mission and work of Bread of Life. Faith-based, community-supported, and intergenerational, it is true to these words, serving up to 200 lunches a day, Monday through Friday, in addition to delivering meals to homebound and providing pantry boxes to approximately 90 families each month. 
Since its inception in 1997, Bread of Life has received tremendous support from the Churches of Transylvania County as well as the greater community, including schools, civic groups, farms and even camps.  Housed in a convenient location in downtown Brevard, its services are made possible by the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and one staff person, Executive Director Michael Collins. "I do this because I believe we are one human family. Faith is every person and here at the kitchen we get to share something, specifically food, with others every day." A recent article in Bold Life quotes Michael as saying "The only question we ask is do you want it for here or to go?” referring to the food they receive as donations from local farmers, bakeries, and groceries and then serve to those in need. “We like to think we feed people more than just food, but if you are hungry you will certainly get a good meal as well as some more to take home for later."
Bread of Life is also supported by an active Board, and Chairman Don Rogers can be credited with the vision to bring a solar hot water system to the kitchen. Operational just over 2 months, this two 4 X 10 flat plate collector system was designed to cut propane costs for hot water in the kitchen. Don, who has been long interested in the potential of solar energy systems, having built a solar hot water system years ago on his former house and taught solar classes at Blue Ridge Technical College, did the leg work on exploring the possibilities of going solar. His calculations showed a pay-back of nearly 10 years, longer than many systems as the non-profit group could not directly claim the tax credits of up to sixty-five percent that individuals and businesses can monetize. However, the organization had the funds, interest, and support to move forward with the investment, and they were committed to the environmental benefits as well. Apparently so was the community, as significant contributions were made towards the system, and Don is pleased that this means it will be paid off much more quickly than originally anticipated.
Interestingly, the system is also serving an additional purpose than it was originally designed for.  At the urging of the Board of The Bread of Life, advocating  a need for shelter in the community, a task force consisting of a broad spectrum of organizations planned and built an emergency overnight shelter called The Haven, which opened its doors on October 31st. Built on the same property as Bread of Life, which offered a 40-year, $1 a year lease, the shelter has capacity for 18 persons. The hot water used in its 2 full showers and kitchen is preheated by the solar system on Bread of Life, and is supplied through piping laid in trenching.  As Bread of Life uses most of its hot water mid-day, any heat the system generates throughout the afternoon will be used at The Haven. They will be billed for their use by Bread of Life, but once the system is paid for, it will be supplied free. This additional high-volume hot water load will ensure that the heat the system generates will be used, and Don is considering expanding the system in the near future. 
While its mission is to share food with those in need, Bread of Life and the giving people behind it are also serving as an example of environmental stewardship by being one of the first to go solar in their community.  May the simple system serve its purpose as well as the dedicated group that brought it into their operations serve theirs.
Energy Current
There is much to be grateful for as we head into the season of Gratitude! In addition to all of our personal blessings, there is good news on the climate front from two different campaigns.
Last Thursday, President Obama sent the Keystone XL pipeline permit back to the State Department for a thorough re-review. Numerous analysts are saying that this should effectively kill the project. When Obama sent the pipeline back for review, he explicitly noted climate change, along with the pipeline route, as factors that the new review would need to assess. Obama has also made it clear that the environmental assessment will be an expert and independent assessment. If you feel thankful for this decision, it would be great to send a note of gratitude to President Obama. Let him know that taking a stand on behalf of the climate is the right thing to do as well as standing up to the powerful and well-funded fossil fuel industry. While this fight is not completely won, it is a great start. The best outcome would be to not develop that tar sands and with the pipeline into the States on review, that should be the next campaign steps.
Another issue that we had looked at earlier this year is Ecuador’s effort to keep carbon in the ground! Ecuador had offered to forego developing the vast oilfields under the Yasuni National Forest if the world can help provide just half of the market value of the oil. This way, Ecuador could progress without compromising the Yasuni. This move would also benefit the entire world as climate change is a global issue. At this point, Germany has stepped up to be a leader and save the day. Originally, this year was the last year that Ecuador was willing to wait for the International Community to step up. As we head into the final hours, Germany has pledged to donate 50 million euros yearly to support Yasuni and to spend .7% of its national budget on overseas development assistance in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals. The funds have been allocated, the plan has been approved but FDP Development Minister Niebel is refusing to award the funding. It is up to all of us to encourage Germany to provide the leadership we so desperately need. Visit to sign the petition to support this campaign.
In addition to being grateful for these positive movements on climate, we here at Sundance are grateful to you and for you. We are grateful for your support of renewables and your belief in renewables as our future. Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings, from our families to yours.
Employee Spotlight on Chad Colwell
This month we will learn a little more about Chad Colwell, one of Sundance’s fine Crew Leaders. Chad was born and raised in the mountains of Pennsylvania. As he puts it, he grew up on “chocolate, scrapple, dippy eggs, and birch beer.” Chad now lives in West Asheville and when he is not working at Sundance, he works at his family’s organic vineyard and winery in Elkin, NC on the weekends.
Chad has a well- rounded education with  a BFA in Studio Art from UNCW as well as AS Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Charlotte. Additionally – Boots on the Roof, NABCEP Entry Level Installer Certificate.
Chad is inspired to work in the renewable energy field because “we continually produce and consume energy at uncontrollable rates as if there were no environmental, social or economical consequences for our actions. It bothered me so much to see that nothing was changing and it was all going in the wrong direction, that I quit my design job and became a solar installer.” And, we are so glad to have Chad on the Sundance team!
Some of the list items that Chad shared:
Three words that best describe you: Honest. Positive. Sunny.
Currently in CD player: the rotation at this moment includes Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopiques Vol. 4, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Logistics, Phantogram, and Quantic.
Reading right now: Walden Two
Favorite scent: Rosemary
Favorite meal: Breakfast all the way
Favorite word: chinwag
Least favorite word: yinz (I had to look it up too)
Last movie watched: “Exit through the Gift Shop”
Inspiration to share with others: We’re all in this together
Community Connections: Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute
Our November feature, The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI), is a Western North Carolina non-profit which seeks to evaluate and/or demonstrate the effectiveness of programs that offer the potential to enhance sustainability. The Institute was created in April, 2008 by the Asheville Hub ( It was first named the Asheville Sustainability Institute, but the need for a broader approach was quickly realized and the name Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute adopted.
The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute is an advocate and catalyst for actions that make the earth “more sustainable.”  Sustainability means creating and maintaining conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling social, economic and environmental requirements of present and future generations.  From its inception, BRSI realized that if it was to have a significant impact, it could only be as the result of offering tangible examples of more sustainable approaches to a wider audience than the City of Asheville and/or Buncombe County. BRSI believes in “Knowledge Into Action” and adopted this as its byline.
BRSI has had a sharp focus on education, advocacy and action in support of regional energy imperatives. BRSI’s current Energy Action Council, as well as its collaboration with Asheville Independent Restaurant Association on the Green Restaurant Initiative, are direct results of this effort.  In the spring of 2011, BRSI’s Energy Upfit Campaign Manager Tim Ballard lead the effort to write a proposal to secure Green Business Fund grant money through the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology that brought $258,000 to Asheville to improve the economic success and environmental sustainability of 17 local independent restaurants.  The project focuses on three main components: renewable energy production (solar thermal for hot water heating), energy efficiency upgrades, and energy conservation education in the restaurants that will enable them to become Green Certified through the national Green Restaurant Association, launching Asheville as the greenest dining destination city (per capita) in the nation!  We are excited that Sundance is providing the expertise for the restaurant solar thermal installations!
Monthly “Knowledge into Action” Newsletter Publications
You can sign up to read our newsletter online.  Archives can be found on our website:
Green Mondays, a two-hour discussion of a topic related to sustainability, held one Monday afternoon a month during nine months of the year, is BRSI’s oldest and most successful program. The program is funded by Progress Energy and supported by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and PurpleCat Networks.  The presenters cover a wide range of topics including: alternative energy, green economy, sustainable regional transportation, climate and society, green building alternatives and more! Discussions are videotaped and can be viewed on BRSI’s website (
Please contact BRSI Communications Coordinator, Katie Cavert at to get involved or for more information!
Action You Can Take Now
As detailed in the Energy Current section, the action we need to take is on the Yasuni rainforest. The Yasuni rainforest is one of the last places on earth which is truly undisturbed. This species-rich rainforest lies atop a gigantic oil reserve. Ecuador and the United Nations have said they will make this a no drill area if the International Community help fund Ecuador’s development. Time is running out. The people of Germany have stepped up to the plate with significant pledges of financial support yet there is a hold up.
 If we come together as a community, we can help Germany move forward and help Ecuador to help the climate and secure the protection of the Yasuni rainforest. It is easy, all you need to do is to visit and sign the petition. This is potentially the most significant as well as the easiest step you can take on behalf of climate at this time.
In This Issue...

Sundance Power Systems
Please contact us at:
(828) 645-2080
11 Salem Hill Road
Weaverville, NC 28787
Also, be sure to check out our website for more information and resources.
Visit us on Facebook
Fan us on  Facebook where we are having fun posting updates, photos, and commentary.  This is proving to be a great way to keep in touch with our friends in between our monthly newsletters.
Sundance is on Solar!
Our on-site solar electric system is powering much of our operations with free, clean, and renewable energy from the sun.  Check out Sundance's Sunny Portal web-link for performance monitoring and see why we believe in solar!
 Open House Thursdays
We invite you to join us during our weekly Open House which we will hold every Thursday from 3 – 6 pm.  Come with any questions that you may have for our team of Renewable Energy Consultants, learn about our new financing programs and other incentives that can support you in going solar, and see how we operate our own offices with renewable energy systems.

Calendar of Events
~ Sustainable School Series:  Food for Thought
Thursday November 17
5:00 – 7:00 pm
The fourth and final of the this  series, highlighting initiatives from the Reading, Riding, and Retrofit program, focuses on  Food, Health and Wellness in the schools, from school gardens to outdoor activities and healthy school lifestyles.
In addition, the Sustainable Shelter exhibit will be open after hours and is free to members and the general public alike. The programs include exhibitors that match each theme along with fun family activities.

~ BRSI Annual Celebration
Friday November 18
7:00 -9:00 pm
The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute has much to be festive for at their Annual Celebration and the public is invited.  This event will be held at the historic Sherrill’s Inn, with music by the Southern Exposure Sustainable String Band and local delicious fare.
This event will bring people together to provide a creative space for new sustainability project ideas and an opportunity to learn about current and upcoming programs. BRSI will also recognize their volunteers, sponsors, and businesses that have contributed services, time, financial resources, and a passion for building a more sustainable community. 
A suggested $10 Door Donation supports the mission of BRSI and is tax deductible. Please RSVP to - space is limited.
~ Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 24
As you pause to give Thanks on this day, may these quotes offer “some food for thought:”
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” --John Fitzgerald Kennedy 
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” --W.T. Purkiser
We wish all of you a Thanksgiving full of gratitude and grace.
~ Simplifying Solar: An Educational Session for CPAs and Financial Planners
Tuesday, November 29 
 5:30-6:30 pm
Wednesday, November 30 
1:00-2:00 pm
This program is designed to empower CPAs and Financial Planners with the knowledge and tools to offer their clients to help them optimize the opportunity that a solar investment offers. We will provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding solar electric and solar hot water technologies, along with current financial incentives and options. 
Contact Erika Schneider Outreach / PR Coordinator  to schedule today as space is limited!
828 645-2080 x 122 or
~ Asheville Green Drinks: Gift of Light for Haiti
Wednesday, November 30
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Come learn about this bright initiative of American Green International, which aims to distribute 1000 Nokero solar light bulbs to women living in tent cities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti this coming January. The program will be presented by Leah Quintal, the Outreach and Project Coordinator with AGI, a media company dedicated to providing simple, affordable, culturally-appropriate, sustainable technologies to developing communities world-wide. 
For more details, check here.
~ Home Green Home Tour of Weirbridge Village
Saturday, December 3rd
2:30 – 3:30 pm

See what it takes to construct an energy efficient multifamily building, by joining this tour, held in conjunction with the Sustainable Shelter  exhibit, of Weirbridge Village, a new 280 unit ENERGY STAR™ apartment community being built in South Asheville.
~ Asheville Green Drinks: Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure
Wednesday, December 7
5:30 – 7:00 pm
The evs are coming! This green drinks panel discussion   will bring you up to date with the exciting initiatives to bring charging stations (Yes, some of them will be solar!) to the region.  Stan Cross, Co-Founder of BioWheels Responsible Transportation Solutions and Brian Taylor from the Land of Sky Regional Council will give you the latest. 
~ GreenNC Symposium and Expo
Thursday, December 8th
Hosted by the NC Triangle Chapter of the USGBC and the NC Solar Center,   The GreenNC Symposium brings together and showcases those firms and individuals who are leading this transformation to a robust green economy in North Carolina. Held at the Durham Convention Center , it promises something for everyone - from the experienced LEED professional to the novice wondering what a “green” building is.
~ Home Green Home Tour of Gaia Village
Saturday, December 10th
2:30 – 3:30 pm
See what a modern sustainable village looks like. Gaia Village is a green community of 15 homes that share a central courtyard and shared community gardens, with a greenway connection to West Asheville Park and a meditation garden on Rhododendron Creek. This tour is held in conjunction with the Sustainable Shelter  exhibit.

Tour space is limited, so pre-register by calling (828) 665-2492 and speaking with Peggy Eavenson or by emailing .
~ Asheville Green Drinks: Green Jobs Panel
Wednesday, December 14
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Asheville’s leaders on the green jobs front, Dan Leroy, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Green Opportunities and Susan Garret, Director of the Green Jobs program at Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, will lead this important discussion. Click for details and more information. 

Cool Energy Tip
95% of the single family dwellings in the United States are equipped with a clothes dryer. Not as many multi-family dwellings, but that is because there is generally a shared washer/dryer laundry room. Clothes dryers are not required to display EnergyGuide labesl and they are not listed in the Energy Star database. This is not because the amount of energy used by clothes dryers is not  important- a dryer is typically the second-biggest energy using appliance after the refrigerator- but because the energy use does not vary much from model to model. The energy efficiency of a clothes dryer is measured by “the energy factor” – it is a rating similar to miles per gallon for a car but in this case, the measure is pounds of clothing per kilowatt hour of electricity. The minimum energy factor for a standard capacity electric dryer is 3.01. For gas dryers, it is 2.67.
The best option when drying clothes is (of course) to turn to the sun. Drying your clothes on a line outside is efficient, free and clean. Line dried clothes smell better and you can’t beat the bottom line! Using a clothes line is one small step to a better planet that most of us can take.
Sometimes, due to weather, time issues or neighborhood codes, we find that we can’t use a clothes line. When you absolutely have to use a clothes dryer, make sure that your dryer is operating at peak efficiency. Be sure and clean your lint filter before each load and if you use dryer sheets, you should take out your filter and scrub it with soap, water and a scrub brush every few months. This is because a waxy film builds up over the filter from the dryer sheets. Scrubbing the filter every few months will extend the lifetime of your dryer, increase efficiency and help you to use less energy. Cool- huh?
Sundance Power Systems, Inc • 11 Salem Hill Road • Weaverville • NC • 28787
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