Going Solar Step by Step
Since buying their first home in 2004,
Ed and Carly Wansing’s sustainable living
efforts have put them within sight
of their net-zero-energy dream.
By ED WANSING, with CARLY WANSING
Our solar-powered home rests in what might seem an unlikely location: a developer-built neighborhood in tiny Ashland City, Tenn., just outside of Nashville. My wife, Carly, and I purchased it in 2004, as recent college grads with new careers and not a whole lot of money. Although the house was just four years old, the previous owner had done little to improve energy
efficiency. Historical data revealed that its energy bills were near
average for houses in the Southeast.
As newly minted intern architects, we soon discovered how inefficient traditional architecture and construction have become. Eager
to help change the way buildings are designed and built, we got
involved with the local Middle Tennessee Emerging Green Builders
and Middle Tennessee chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). We helped to implement recycling programs in our
offices. In short order, peers at Carly’s office christened her Queen
of Green. I became known as Mr. Green Jeans at my firm.
At home, we started with small changes, switching out our
incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent ones and installing a programmable thermostat. We put up a small clothesline to
Crispin mAThiAs + fisher
Ed and Carly Wansing are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Accredited Professionals (LEED APs) and associate members of the American
Institute of Architects (AIA). Ed ( email@example.com) works as a sustainable design consultant with Architectural Energy Corp. ( archenergy.com) and is
the technical programs coordinator for the Collaborative for High Performance
Schools. He is the Middle Tennessee Emerging Green Builders chairman and
the Emerging Green Builders national committee chairman, and he sits on
the Middle Tennessee U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) board of directors.
He is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Sustainability at Lipscomb University’s
Institute for Sustainable Practice. An intern architect and project manager at
Street Dixon Rick Architecture, Carly ( firstname.lastname@example.org) just finished her
first LEED Gold project. The Middle Tennessee USGBC recognized Carly with its
Green Star Award for individual contribution in 2009.
Ed and Carly Wansing, shown with one of their two Dalmatians, started with small changes.
Photovoltaic System Performance, Ashland City, Tenn.
l Tennessee has an average 208 days of sunshine.
l 2.16-kilowatt system installed in December 2007.
l System produced 2,820 kilowatt-hours (k Wh) in 2008, 2,495
k Wh in 2009.
l Average monthly household consumption in 2009: 253 k Wh
(347 k Wh in summer months, 239 k Wh in winter months).
l Tennessee Valley Authority pays a 12-cent premium over the
retail rate for electricity produced by the system.