Wumple.com

2011/06/24

New Weather Station!

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 11:45 am

The new Vantage Pro2 Plus weather station worked, recording about one inch of precipitation during the recent rainfall! Now I just need to get the USB interface working and wview set up to analyze the results.

We installed the weather station up on the roof along with the new Wineguard HS-1000 omnidirectional HD antenna, which is also working well. Dropped cable over a year ago – Netflix + other streaming + broadcast is good enough and costs a lot less!

I hope to combine the data from the weather station (including the UV and solar radiation sensors) and the TED 5000 whole-house energy monitor to correlate temperature and other weather changes with energy usage and solar PV power generation from the solar arrays also on the roof.

Update: Success!  The weather station is online (after much fighting with hardware and interfaces)!  Check out Wumple Weather and station KTXAUSTI146 on the WeatherUnderground.

2010/06/14

Zero Energy Casita in Fort Worth

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 7:32 am

Inhabit posted a story about a net-zero energy small house (1,051 sq ft) built recently in Fort Worth:

Zero Energy Casita in Texas Opens to the Public | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

2010/06/12

Our Home Efficiency Improvements

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 8:50 pm

Lisa and I recently went on the Austin Cool House Tour co-sponsored by the Texas Solar Energy Society and Austin Energy Green  Building.

We realized the efficiency retrofits to our home were pretty similar to what we saw on the tour, so for fun I thought I’d write up the green feature list of our house in the same format as used by the tour book.

Home Solar Plant - Small

Spangler Home – Northwest Austin

Built as a traditional non-green building, this Austin home has been retrofitted for energy efficiency and simple but high-tech living.

Owners: Lisa and Jason Spangler
Solar PV: Texas Solar Power Company

Green Features

  1. 10KW grid-tied solar photovoltaic array
  2. Whole-home energy monitor (TED 5000).
  3. White reflective metal roof (Sheffield Metals CoolR Solar White Galvalume – Reflectivity 0.68, Emissivity 0.85, SRI 82, 25% recycled content, 100% recyclable – installed by Southwest Metal Roofing Systems).
  4. Level 2 EVSE (electric vehicle car charger) and a Chevy Volt range-extended electric car
  5. Lawn replaced with native plant and prairie garden which requires almost no supplemental watering.  Crushed granite and limestone paths allow water penetration.  Mature trees provide shade.
  6. R-38 insulation in attic with R-8 ductwork.  R-9 garage door insulation.
  7. 1 gpm low-flow showerheads (from New Braunfels-based Bricor).  Shut-off values on showers for optional Navy shower.
  8. Solar screens on all windows.
  9. Energy Star appliances from the highest CEE efficiency tier (dishwasher, refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer).  Energy Star electronics.
  10. 19 SEER multi-zoned HVAC system with variable speed motor and fan coils, and programmable thermostats.
  11. All lighting is CFL or LED.  (LED fishtank and main kitchen lighting reduces energy usage of most-used lights.)
  12. High efficiency aerodynamic ceiling fans with timed remotes throughout.  (Gossamer Wind fans)
  13. Masonry and fiber cement siding  and trim (Hardiboard).
  14. Ethernet networking (Cat6) and high speed Internet connection enables telecommuting to save energy and reduce emissions.  Energy-efficient computers. Notebook and Home theater systems that sleep when not in use.
  15. Weather station (Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus)
  16. Easy access to transportation – bike lanes, public transportation (bus stop 0.4 miles away), two light rail stations nearby (4.0 and 5.2 miles).

Any other ideas for increasing energy efficiency or going more green?  Leave the in the comments!

Update: Here is an aerial photo of the metal roof and solar panels from Google Maps:

2010/05/17

[Updated] Two Texas Prairie Heroes – Bob and Mickey Burleson

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 5:00 pm

[Update #2: Texas lost a great man when Bob passed away in April 2009.  He is buried on the prairie.]

Bob and Mickey Burleson are two of my prairie heroes.  Decades ago, when few people talked about tallgrass prairie conservation and restoration, they went and did it: they purchased worn our crop land and an overgrazed prairie remnant in Bell County and spent many years restoring over two hundred and fifty acres of highly diverse, native tallgrass Blackland Prairie through collection and planting of local ecotype native seed from area hay meadow prairie remnants, invasive plant removal, prescribed burning, haying, and other management practices.

The Burlesons collected local ecotype seed from native prairie hay meadows in the area, many of which no longer exist due to being destroyed by plowing or development. Their prairie is an invaluable source of locally adapted native plant genetics and seed, and they have provided prairie seed and seed hay for use in other restorations.

[Update: A Texas Legacy Project interview with Mickey and a joint interview with Bob and Mickey (requires RealPlayer)] (more…)

2009/06/09

Nash Prairie Field Trip – June 20th

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 11:09 am

Nash Blooms

  • When: Saturday, June 20th (Sat.) at 9:30 am
  • Where: West Columbia (Brazoria County, south of Houston)

Come visit Nash Prairie, over 300 acres of very special coastal tallgrass prairie!  Owned by the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the West Columbia Hospital District, this prairie is a rare remnant of the coastal prairie that once covered over six million acres of Texas and Louisiana.

Field trip leaders Rev. Peter Conaty, his wife Susan, botanist Dr. David Rosen (who has conducted studies of the prairie), and Lisa and Jason Spangler (NPAT president) will tell us about the history of the prairie, the church’s stewardship of this special piece of Texas, and the native plants that call it home.  Read more about Nash Prairie by clicking here.

We will meet  at Nash Prairie at 9:30 am.  From West Columbia, go on east on State Highway 35.  Turn left onto CR 25 and proceed north.  Nash Prairie is approximately 6.5 miles past front gate of Columbia Lakes on the left.  Park along CR 255 which is to the right of the prairie.  Click here for directions from Google Maps.

RSVP appreciated but not required.  Wear appropriate clothing, and bring water, sunscreen, and a snack.  Field trips are open to everyone.

Contact Lisa Spangler, lisa_spangler@texasprairie.org or 512-736-5553 (cell), for more information.


Tallgrass prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America, with less than 1% of Texas’ original 20 million acres estimated remaining.  In addition to beautiful prairie flowers and lush native grasses, our prairies are habitat for grassland birds, the most declining group of birds in North America, butterflies and other pollinators, and other prairie wildlife.  We must protect these special places to save Texas’ prairie heritage.

Tallgrass prairies also sequester large amounts of carbon, so tallgrass prairie restorations could be used to help fight global warming.  In addition, native grasslands increase water quality and quantity, a vital issue for our growing state.  Tallgrass prairie plantings on marginal cropland have been identified as the best source of low-input cellulosic biofuel that would not impact our food supply.


Join the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) to help advocate and protect Texas’ prairie heritage, native plants, and wildlife.

2009/02/11

To Make A Prairie… Emily Dickinson

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 11:34 am

Jackie sent this prairie quote along our way…  I like it, though native bees and other pollinators are definitely needed!

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee.  One clover, and a bee.  And revery.  The reverie alone will do, if bees are few.” – Emily Dickinson

2009/01/09

My Native Prairie/Plant Interview on local NPR station KUT!

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 12:36 pm

Several people have told me that the interview I did with KUT (local NPR radio station) about native prairies and native plants in central Texas is airing today!  Let me know if you hear it! To listen online, go to the 9:00 minute mark of this mp3 on KUT’s site.

We discussed how native tallgrass prairies and savannas are the native ecosystem for much of central Texas, how tallgrass prairies are the most endangered large ecosystem in North America, how using native plants in landscaping can increase water quality and quantity, the future potential for cellulosic ethanol and native grasslands to supply fuel for our society and restore native prairie, and other related topics. They also interviewed several other folks about grassland birds, water quality, and cellulosic ethanol.

The organizations I mentioned during the original interview:

2008/05/11

Jenna Bush Wedding At Native Prairie Restoration

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 5:34 pm

Jenna Bush among native prairie grassesNative prairie grasses are visible in several photos released by the White House of the Jenna Bush wedding held at Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, TX.

Notice the Little Bluestem in the background, and the Buffalograss growing on the ground the bride is standing upon.  Both plants are important native prairie grasses, and Little Bluestem was the dominant plant of the tallgrass prairies of North America.

The tan and copper color of the Little Bluestem is last fall’s growth weathered through the winter and spring.  Buffalograss is a terrific and beautiful native grass that makes a great drought tolerant lawn grass that rarely needs mown.

The prairie grasses can be seen in the background of the following photos by Shealah Craighead : 1, 2, 3

CNN also reports that "the decor and the wedding party — known in Texas as the "house party" — were dressed in colors that reflected the hues of the landscape, including native Texas wildflowers: greens, blues, yellows and lavenders, the White House said."

Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) member Mike Williams planted the native prairie restoration at Prairie Chapel Ranch using seed collected from the NPAT-protected Simpson Prairie.

Tallgrass prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America, with less than 1% of Texas’ original 20 million acres estimated remaining.  In addition to beautiful prairie flowers and lush native grasses, our prairies are habitat for grassland birds, the most declining group of birds in North America, butterflies and other pollinators, and other prairie wildlife.  We must protect these special places to save Texas’ prairie heritage.

Tallgrass prairies also sequester large amounts of carbon, so tallgrass prairie restorations could be used to help fight global warming.  In addition, native grasslands increase water quality and quantity, a vital issue for our growing state.  Tallgrass prairie plantings on marginal cropland have been identified as the best source of low-input cellulosic biofuel that would not impact our food supply.

2008/04/30

Prairie Chicken Dance Amazing Sight

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 8:13 pm

From the Quad City Times:

Just before daybreak last Sunday, I found myself huddled in a wood trailer atop a grassy knoll in northwest Missouri, squinting through a small window and waiting.

Also in the trailer were a dozen other bundled-up nature lovers who had driven from across Iowa to this remote, windswept spot to witness a wonder of the animal kingdom: the spectacular courtship dance of the male greater prairie chicken.

As we peered out the windows facing the dancing ground called a lek, the chickens appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and began their show.

It was amazing.

Read the full article here.

2008/04/12

Spring Prairie Field Trips Around Texas!

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 2:31 pm

Come see spring prairie flowers, native grasses, grassland birds, butterflies, and other prairie wildlife on a native prairie field trip!

  1. Meador Prairie Field Trip – April 19th (Sat.), Saint Jo (Cooke/Montague County west of Fort Worth)
  2. Fort Worth Prairie Fest - April 26th (Sat.), Fort Worth (Tandy Hills Natural Area)
  3. Simpson Prairie Field Trip – May 3rd (Sat.), Crawford (McLennan County, south of Waco)
  4. Maddin Prairie Preserve Breeding Bird Survey- May 10th-11th (Sat.-Sun.), Colorado City (Mitchell County, west of Abilene)
  5. Nash Prairie Field Trip – May 17th (Sat.), West Columbia (Brazoria County, south of Houston)
  6. Clymer Meadow Field Trip (TNC) – May 17th (Sat.), Celeste (Hunt County, NE of Dallas)

Tallgrass prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America, with less than 1% estimated to remain in Texas.  In addition to beautiful prairie flowers and lush native grasses, our prairies are habitat for grassland birds, the most declining group of birds in North America, butterflies and other pollinators, and other prairie wildlife.  We must protect these special places to save Texas’ prairie heritage.

Tallgrass prairies also sequester large amounts of carbon, so tallgrass prairie restorations could be used to help fight global warming.  Tallgrass prairie plantings on marginal cropland have been identified as the best source of low-input cellulosic biofuel that would not impact our food supply.

Check out NPAT’s web page for an up-to-date listing of events.

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