Along with the rest of the country, Long Islanders are swimming in a sea of new technology, much of it driven by advances in capturing the energy of the sun. Advances in solar power seem to hold out the promise of emission-free energy and an end to international tensions over oil - if only people have the smarts to master solar power's intricacies.
And many have done just that; engineers, physicists, electricians and academics in related fields are reshaping the future through research and development. "Even building codes are being supplemented with additional requirements in order for structures to meet new energy standards for better performance," says Water Mill architect Bill Chaleff.
Interest in solar power has been growing so fast that increasing numbers of professional organizations and institutions are sponsoring solar power seminars and workshops for laymen.
Here are six opportunities to learn on Long Island:
RENEWABLE ENERGY LONG ISLAND and the LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY
INFO RenewableEnergyLongIsland.org, 631-329-8888
ABOUT Established in 2003, Renewable Energy is a nonprofit oriented towards its members promoting clean, sustainable energy for Long Island; it works with the Long Island Power Authority to present solar energy seminars. Free two-hour seminars are offered periodically at sites throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. Its Web site is packed with tips on resources, new technology, events and rebates, as well as a list of vendors. "RELI will not recommend individual vendors, but each is a qualified professional who has met our screening process," says executive director Gordian Raacke.
INFO LIGreen.com, 631-721-1908
ABOUT LIGreen and Stony Brook University Center for Emerging Technology are collaborating on the creation of the LIGreen Institute, a comprehensive source for unbiased homeowner and commercial information on a wide range of green and solar topics. The institute will offer homeowner workshops starting in October in Stony Brook, Southampton and Farmingdale on topics such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, nontoxic building materials and organic landscaping. The institute also offers a free "energy study": one-on-one in-home consultations with an expert who has no commercial affiliations. In addition, the "hands-on" homeowner can receive free training and technical assistance if he or she opts to take on the installation of equipment under the Institute's guidance. Sign up at LIGreen.com/audit.
U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL/L.I. Chapter
INFO usgbc-li.org, 631-473-3654
ABOUT Check the Web site of this nationwide coalition promoting green and solar awareness for many informational seminars and events open to the public. A local affiliate of this agency and RELI, Go Solar (272 Main Rd., Riverhead, 631-727-2224, gosolar.com), holds informal free workshops at 10 a.m. most Saturdays (call ahead for dates). Owner Gary Minnick, a 30-year veteran in the field of solar energy, answers questions and demonstrates equipment, products and a solar-powered boat. Go Solar's traveling classroom, The Sun Shack, is a solar-powered venue for free public seminars conducted at various locations. Call for more information.
SUFFOLK COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
INFO 533 College Rd., Selden, sunysuffolk.edu, 631-451-4114
COST $25 (for a one-session class); $54 (for a two-session class)
ABOUT Learn how solar energy can help contribute to sustainability and help lower energy costs. The program is geared to the "smart energy consumer" who is tired of high energy costs, says Nina Lenhardt, associate dean, office of continuing education. "Homeowners can learn which appliances are energy hogs and how a few simple measures can lower energy consumption."
FARMINGDALE STATE COLLEGE SOLAR ENERGY CENTER
INFO 2350 Broadhollow Rd., farmingdale.edu/quicklinks /IFS_Solar_Energy_Center .html, 631-420-2397
ABOUT Introductory workshops planned by the Solar Energy Green Team are geared to nonprofessionals. Topics cover all phases of solar technology, including costs and rebates. The Web site also lists an informative energy-saving tip sheet with more than 20 suggestions, plus information on solar electric systems.
THE TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD
INFO 516-431-9200, townofhempstead.org
ABOUT Solar seminars are held in locations across the town, including the Conservation and Waterways facility on Lido Boulevard (no number on the building) in Point Lookout. The seminars cover all phases of solar information, including rebates and tax credits. "The town holds seminars on many topics," says town spokesman Mike Deery, "but the ones on solar technology are by far the most popular. Usually more than 200 people attend each one."