International agreement signed

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President
Illinois Renewable Energy Association

Representatives of Winnebago County, Freedom Field and Lidkoping, Sweden, recently signed an agreement to collaborate on the development, exchange and implementation of renewable energy technologies. Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R), Freedom Field President Dr. Robert Vogl and Lidkoping’s International Business Development Director Linnea Bengsston represented their organizations at the event.

They have cooperated on two Bioenergy Days in 2009 and 2010 in Sweden and Rockford. Area high school students showcased their energy-efficient house built on Swedish principles at the 2010 Bioenergy Days. Sweden will host this year’s conference Sept. 27-29.

International cooperation enriches all involved. Each can learn from and build on experiences of the other. Freedom Field’s mission is “to increase awareness of renewable energy opportunities and to facilitate development and commercialization of renewable energy solutions.” Installations include a solar pv system, wind generators, a hot water heating and air conditioning system, and a green roof.

Lidkoping has been noted many times for its successful advanced work in sustainability. Swedish communities assign high priority to environmental issues and have developed standardized environmental management plans. Lidkoping’s major goal, to become fossil fuel-free, focuses on producing and using biogas from a variety of sources including household refuse, food industry byproducts and agricultural waste.

In the 1980s, Saskatchewan, Sweden and the U.S. were leaders in energy-efficient housing. Many houses in this area are built on those principles. When federal support for energy efficiency waned, Germany took over where the U.S. left off and developed their Passivhaus design.

Sweden continues to build energy-efficient homes, most of which are first constructed indoors and later assembled on site for quality control and avoidance of extreme weather conditions.

The “One-Watt-House,” a modification of the German Passivhaus, was showcased at an early Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. Both the originator of the concept and the designer of Midwest Passive Houses made presentations at fairs. Dr. Berndt Steinmuller, an internationally renowned leader in energy-efficient housing, made a presentation at the fifth fair.

Several presentations at this year’s fair, Aug. 13-14 at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill., will focus on efficient building. One of the earliest local builders of efficient homes, McCanse Builders, will hold a question-and-answer session on prioritizing remodeling dollars with an eye toward energy conservation. A panel assembled by Michael Rohrbeck will approach energy efficiency in building from several perspectives, including energy auditing, tax credits and architectural design.

Illinois Renewable Energy Association board member Victor Zaderej, an active builder of houses that cut energy consumption by 80 percent, will team with architect Patsy Welch to discuss their plans for an energy-efficient home in McHenry County.

Representatives of the northern Illinois branch of the U.S. Green Building Council will be available to discus green and efficient building in the Rockford area.

While new home construction is down, architects and builders continue to explore techniques of sustainable building. This year’s Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair will continue to provide ideas for interested homeowners.

Winnebago County and Freedom Field look forward to a long and productive partnership, following up and building on the ideas already designed, with Lidkoping.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail

From the June 8-14, 2011 issue

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