Many registered tours aren’t as well-established and independent as NESEA’s GBOH or Portland’s BIG tour, so Braude lends special support to individuals and small organizations that want to participate in the tour for the first time.
“People will call to ask, ‘This looks like a great event; how can I get my house on it?’” says Braude, who offers tips from her own experience hosting local tours. She encourages individuals to join forces with other people in the community who have solar installations; after all, larger tours potentially attract more visitors.
“Today, ASES’s main role is to provide a website for everyone to post their tours, descriptions, and location maps,” says Braude. ASES also provides marketing materials. Tour guides, shipped free of charge to anyone who registers a tour, include basic information on solar energy and energy efficiency, as well as information about ASES chapters. ASES will also provide NST yard signs and promotional posters.
Though the NST has changed over the years, its mission remains essentially the same. “The purpose of the tour is to accelerate the sustainable energy economy,” says DiGrazia. This is accomplished through education: direct opportunities to talk with homeowners, builders, solar energy installers, and other energy-efficiency experts—not only about the technology, but about the cost of installation, availability of incentives, and leasing programs.
Freelance writer Juliet Grable got hooked on solar tours after attending her local tour—the Rogue Valley Green + Solar Tour—last year. She frequently writes about sustainable building.