Host of the annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair  
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2013 Workshops

A tale of two houses (Sat 3:45)

A couple returns from years of job imposed exile to retire to the 150-year old northern Wisconsin farmhouse of their dreams, recognizing that winter is a big part of life there. Learn how the made the transition from windows that blew out candles to a soundproof, leakproof home. Roland Wolff, Mason, WI


Aquaponics (Sun 2:15)

A high school class project in sustainable agriculture, including raising fish and vegetables in an urban setting to produce jobs & organic food for the world. Tim Bratina & Auburn High School students, Rockford, IL


Batteries: care & long life (Sun 10:30)

Choosing the right battery, getting the most use from one & tips on battery Maintenance. Jeff Green, G-G Solar, Frankfort, IL


Bring Your Yard to Life:  The Multiple Benefits of Native Plants (Sat 1:15))

Support wildlife, harvest food, manage rainwater, reduce maintenance, and beautify your neighborhood all at the same time!  Learn some techniques from Permaculture and Restoration Ecology to guide you in getting more from your landscape than you ever thought possible. Judy Speer, Harvard, IL. Judy grows native plants in her yard & at Red Buffalo Nursery.  She leads educational programs in Permaculture & ecological restoration with Small Waters Education, a not-for-profit organization based in northern Illinois.


Climate change action (Sun 11:45)

Speaking from an experience base gathered over the course of his career in widely diverse fields having been an engineer, a Chemical Plant Manager, a UCC local church Pastor & currently as a public theologian engaging issues of social justice, will present the acclaimed Climate Reality slide show & lead us in a discussion of:  

*What is the current status of climate change?

*What further effects can we expect and how soon?

*What should our response be to the Climate issue?

*What are some actions that we can take?

*Hope you can join in the discussion! Rev. Terry Gallagher, Aurora, IL


Cooperative Power: The History and Potential of Energy Cooperatives in the U.S. (Sat 1:15)

It was only through cooperatives that most of rural America received electricity. Courtney Berner from the UW-Center for Cooperatives will explore the history of electric cooperatives in the U.S., explain how cooperatives differ from investor-owned firms, & share examples of how cooperatives businesses are addressing our current energy challenges. Courtney Berner, U of WI Outreach Specialist, Madison, WI


Cost Effective Modern Technologies for Energy Efficient Building (Sat 10:45)

 Heating costs in the United States are down thanks to the abundance of natural gas production in the past few years. This is great news for us in the short term but whenever there is a price disparity of 3 to 1  between the US and the rest of the world, this cost advantage will ultimately disappear.  The need for energy efficient & very comfortable homes will continue to be in demand. Fortunately, new technologies continue to be developed that make energy efficiency along with simplicity & affordability a possibility. Three new technologies incorporated into three homes being built this summer include:

1. A low cost geothermal heating & cooling loop mated to a 92% efficient heat recovery ventilator manufactured by Zehnder.

2. A "phase change wall" that stores energy during the day and distributes the stored solar heat throughout the home at night.

3. A new generation of Solid State Light sources that can be moved to any location within the home, change colors, & increase the rate at which your plants grow by a factor 2.


Details of how these technologies work, why they make economic sense, and examples of homes in which they were incorporated will be provided. Victor Zaderej, Molex engineer, St. Charles, IL


Creating a sustainable local food security system (Sat 10:45)

Dan Kenney, Executive Director of DeKalb County Community Gardens, will present about the work being done in DeKalb County to create a sustainable local food security system. Now in their second year, Mr. Kenney will share how DCCG has grown to over 10 acres, 200 raised beds, at 40 different sites around the county, providing hundreds of pounds of fresh wholesome produce to county food pantries & community meal sites. He will also talk about how they formed over 50 partnerships & have formed a local food security council. He will also discuss food hubs & other topics relevant to local food security. Dan Kenny, DeKalb, IL

DCCG is also involved with prairie restoration work in the county & will talk about how they have used prairie plants received through a grant to establish prairie learning sites along bike paths & at schools in connection with the park & school districts.


Earth sheltered housing from a builder’s perspective: (Sat 10:45)

Simple, sustainable, earth-friendly, & affordable are a few of the user-friendly watchwords that describe Earth-Sheltered Homes. An introduction to earth-sheltered housing which will discuss its history, performance, building ideas, methods to reduce costs, & some Advantages & disadvantages of living in harmony with the natural abundance provided by this very ancient form of lodging. Douglas McWain, Lewisburg, Ohio, Associate Professor & Sustainable Living Enthusiast.


Effective payback from solar energy, conservation, & sustainability (Sun 2:15)

How to use solar energy, conservation & sustainability for maximum payback with minimal impact. Evaluate your energy profile for the best sola system, conservation measures and lifestyle.

In spite of sound scientific studies & warnings, large segments of society refuse to comprehend the seriousness & consequences of resource depletion. Participants will be introduced to psychological defenses that interfere with acceptance. Jim Lamb, Retired engineer, Northbrook, IL


Electric vehicle conversion (Sat 2:30)

This talk will focus on the various decisions and steps required in the conversion of your vehicle to electric drive. Tom Brunka, Brown Deer, WI


Energy efficient appliances on and off grid (Sat 3:45)

A review of household appliances from air conditioning to water heaters. How to find the most efficient & what will work best on and off grid. Includes non-technical, humorous, realistic, & low-tech ways to completely live off-grid. Dan Alway, Lawrence, MI


Food preservation & preparation (Sun 11:45)

A perennial favorite new & expanded: Now that you’ve grown it, how do you preserve and use it? Overview of food preservation – canning, freezing & drying - & creative ways to prepare and use the food you’ve preserved. Simple cheese & yogurt. These creative, enthusiastic cooks have discovered some ways to simplify the project. Sherry Piros, Chana, IL & LinVogl, IREA Sustainability Coordinator, Oregon, IL


Green remodeling & energy conservation – a DIY how-to guide (Sat 11:15)

An update from last year’s information: A primer on reducing energy losses in your home. Discussion & demonstration of how to evaluate leakage issues, safety air seal & insulate building envelope, & prevent moisture problems. Focus on attics, basements, crawls & windows. Dave Kozlowski, Little Green Houses, Woodstock, IL


Growing Prairie for Forage, Bioenergy, Wildlife, and Clean Water (Sat 9:30)     

This session will present both a long term vision for sustainable bioenergy and short term practical information.  AWI will update progress on using prairie biomass for thermal energy & discuss prairie as a forage crop.  The role of perennial biomass crops in multifunctional agricultural landscapes will be presented. Steve John, Agricultural Watershed Institute, Decatur, IL


Leadership, Thinking Styles, and Entrepreneurship (Sun 10:30)

Many feel that interest in Clean Energy generation & efficiency has lost its “Zip”.  There are a number of factors beyond Solyndra for this, & most of them are actually positive. This region on the “industrial side” is rich in examples of quiet decision making, & in implementing distributed energy applications which runs contrary to what we might observe at our “energy fairs” We have been well educated about what these advanced technologies are; now we need opportunistic applications & economic models.  Chet Kolodziej, Freedom Field Renewable Energy, Rockford, IL


Natural home design and construction (Sun 11:45)

Proven high performance natural home design & construction for the Midwest. Homes are energy efficient, low-toxin, and use straw-clay, earthen plaster and floors, low-impact materials and methods. Photos, video, wall mockup & samples of materials. Features: Integration of advanced framing with straw-clay infill system, labor-saving onsite fabrication process, & whole-house "green" materials & systems

Lou Host-Jablonski, Madison, WI Lou Host-Jablonski is an architect with several decade of design work, hands-on research & teaching experience related to sustainable building practices. With his collaborators, he has helped develop the world's most advanced straw-clay construction system. Lou is the principal architect at Design Coalition, a non-profit architectural and planning office working in the Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest since 1972.  His projects of the last 35 years include new homes & additions, multi-family housing, museum exhibits, childcare centers, community-built projects, community centers and playgrounds, & home modifications for persons with disabilities and chemical sensitivities.  Lou’s areas of professional focus are resource-efficient (‘sustainable’) design & planning, and environments for children.


Philippine Youth Leadership Training (Sat 3:45)

Developing youth as agents of change & ecological activism through experiences with appropriate groups in America. Youth spend several weeks in the US visiting organizations, agencies & individuals to learn how to develop activism programs in their home towns. Rey Ty, Intrnational Programs, NIU, DeKalb, IL


Photovoltaic Systems – Today & Tomorrow (Sat 10:45)

Introduction to PV Systems

a. History – how early people used solar energy

b. Fundamentals of PV & solar energy

c. First practical cells – space program

d. Today – PV used world wide

e. Europe – a look at the future as the price of fuel rises

d. USA – a need to conserve natural resources

g. As efficiency of cells improves the cost & performance will increase

h. Arrays will make a proven choice – may still need hybrid systems. Gregg Erickson, Elburn IL, Waubonsee College Instructor


Pipelines, Bitumen and the Petro State (Keynote: Sat 12:00 )

The rapid development of the tar sands, the world’s largest energy project, has changed the political & economic character of Canada. The nation now muzzles its scientists, attacks environmentalists & actively undermines global action on climate change. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will worsen these trends. Moreover the development will not make the US more energy independent or secure. Andrew Nikiforuk, Calgary, Alberta


Primitive livng skills (Sun 11:45)

Procedures used to make a bow drill fire, permanent type of water filter & cording.  Victor Hyser, Stillman Valley, IL


Psychology of peak critical resource depletion (Sat 9:30)

In spite of sound scientific studies & warnings, large segments of society refuse to comprehend the seriousness & consequences of resource

depletion. Participants will be introduced to psychological defenses that interfere with acceptance & remediation of this critical issue. Douglas McWain, Associate Professor & Sustainable Living Enthusiast, Lewisburg, OH


PV installations for remote clinics (Sat 9:30)

Small solar installations in another country with people you don't know & sometimes have trouble understanding. How to overcome obstacles. Jeff Green, G-G Solar, Frankfort, IL


Raw foods demonstration (Sat 10 -12) Health benefits & values of a raw food diet. Witness the creation of amazing dishes. Brenda Richter, popular local raw foods chef, Rockford, IL.


Real World Costs & Advantages of Energy Efficient Construction (Sat 10:30)

McCanse Builders has experience in many different aspects of energy efficient & environmentally friendly construction. They have seen the real world costs of these techniques, & have done the math to calculate their financial payback. Hear about what works & what doesn't. Seth & Rick McCanse, Oregon, IL


Rock River Trail Initiaiive (Sat 2:30)

The Rock River Times' Editor & Publisher Frank Schier is also the founder & coordinator of the Rock River Trail Initiative. Beginning as recently as February of 2010, Schier's presentation will include how the Initiative achieved National Water Trail status from the U.S. Department of the Interior & National Park Service for the 320 miles of the Rock River flowing through 37 municipalities and 11 counties in Wisconsin and Illinois. The Rock River Trail National Water Trail is now one of only 11 National Water Trails in the entire county. Schier will also address the recently passed bill and resolution in the Wisconsin & Illinois legislatures creating the Rock River Trail Scenic and Historic Route along adjacent roadways for the entire Rock River from its headwaters above the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge to its mouth on the Mississippi. Recent research & inventories for water quality testing and protection, Native American village sites & effigy mounds, and the authors & sculpture foundries along the course of the Rock River will also be presented. Frank Schier, The Rock River Times, Rockford, IL


Small Wind (Sat 1:15)

- Why wind: the performance & the benefits of small wind

- How large a system

- Vertical vs Horizontal

- Importance of height

- Size of rotor does matter

- Ordinances & zoning

- Many websites available to help. Gregg Erickson, Elburn IL, Waubonsee College Instructor


Solar installations in remote areas (St 2:30)

Our organization is committed to serve those people in remote areas of the world where no one wants go. Our goal is show the love of Christ by bringing clean water & clean energy to the small community's health clinics, schools & churches. Jaime Flores, Chicago, IL


Solar PV system monitoring (Sun 2:15)

How do we know if our PV system is making as much power as the installer said it would make? If it’s not, where is the problem? Defective solar modules or loose wiring? Unnoticed shading? Dirty modules? Or just an over-promised sales job done to us by a solar salesman? Dave Merrill, SunAir Systems, Byron, IL. Dave is a NABCEP Certified Solar Installer.


Sucessful gardening (Sat 2:30)

Mike will be presenting on the importance of feeding the soil in a garden & will also discuss possibilites to garden nearly anywhere.  He has years of gardening experience,  helps manage, a leading source of beneficial insects. Mike Challis, Davis Junction, IL,


The Energy of Slaves (Keynote: Sun 11:45)                                             

Cheap oil has created an army of energy slaves or machines that now provide us with us comforts the same way human slaves once did. The proliferation of billions of energy slaves poses a variety of social, environmental & political challenges along with the end of cheap oil. Who are the masters? & who are the slaves?  Andrew Nikiforuk, Calgary, Alberta

The path to independence from the grid by using alternative energy (Sun 11:45)

An update from last year’s information: The road to independence is easier than most people think. Important design concepts when integrating alternative energy into electrical power needs & their effects on our environment. How an area garage tinkerer & handyman walked the evolutionary routs from total dependence to partial self-sufficiency. Willem Dijstelbergen, Leaf River, IL Willem is a retired engineer who worked for 30 years in the power conversion industry.


The weekend homesteader (Sat 3:45)

Updated: Growing fruits and vegetables in the city or country, how to extend the growing season using simple structures; real life experience raising both produce & animal products. Lin Vogl, IREA Sustainability Coordinator, Oregon, IL.


Turning Toward Life (Sun 2:15))

The Great Turning is taking place, bringing forth a life-sustaining society.  This group activity, based on deep ecology & the work of Joanna Macy, will energize us as we celebrate the transformations we are already experiencing. Jack and Judy Speer, Harvard, IL. The Speers connect people with nature through experiential programs in ecological restoration, permaculture, & deep ecology with their nonprofit organization Small Waters Education.


Vegetable Fermentation (Sat 1:15) Workshop is about a practice

or method of food preparation. The history of fermentation extends back thousands of years to ancient times.  Even as food is increasingly produced and consumed with

speed and convenience in mind, one traditional method that's making a comeback in a growing number of American kitchens is fermentation.  This is an introduction to fermentation -- history and process, science and benefits -- with emphasis on lacto fermentation, as used in the home preservation of vegetables. Sylvia Woo, Chicago, IL Sylvia is a local food enthusiast, DIY cook & kraut maker, student of traditional foods & the communities that nourish them.


Vehicle maintenance for longevity and efficiency (Sat 9:30)

This talk will focus on the maintenance steps & simple modifications that will prolong the life & improve the efficiency of your vehicle.

Tom Brunka, Brown Deer, WI Tom has been an automotive enthusiast all of his life & currently owns a small auto shop, where he works to improve vehicles, for performance, efficiency and longevity.


Wild & domestic game: acquisition and processing (Sun 10:30)

Living simply and environmentally responsibly includes what one eats – how it was raised & how far away, how it is packaged & provided, etc. Relating mostly self-taught, minimal-footprint methods as a deer hunter, small livestock owner & butcher. Roland Wolff, Mason, WI


Your eco kitchen (Sun 10:30)

This workshop will explore ways that you can have an environmentally friendly kitchen. You’ll learn to save money; no need for expensive appliances, cut waste with multi-taskers, & save money with energy saving tips from the folks that really live this way- & love it. Discussions will include how to cook when the electricity goes out. Join our presenter & bring your own comments and suggestions. Birgit Wolff, Mason, WI






Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation

The Rock River Times

Clean Line Energy Partners

Kickapoo Nature Conservancy


Ogle County Waste Management

Oregon Park District

Northern Public Radio

Radish Magazine


Byron Forest Preserve


Patchwork Inn