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Rainford and his new panels
Life is good for Shon

Shon Rainford and Rani Colbert moved themselves and 10-month-old Amelia Rose in to their new house near Charleston in mid-June. First they bought 21 acres of woodland in Colleton County. Then they bought a supersize, two-story shed from Home Depot. Then, with help from friends, the 768-square-foot shed went up, the radiant barrier went in, the hardwood floor went down and the sheetrock was installed.


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For $6,000, they bought a solar power system, complete with eight storage batteries connected in series and parallel, two photovoltaic panels, a 2,000-watt inverter, an AC circuit breaker and OutBack power box (the brains of the system). They procured a couple of gasoline-powered generators in case power tools are needed, and two big propane tanks to fuel the stove and fridge, but it’s the sun that provides the family with almost all their electricity.

The house is in the middle of nowhere and has no access to any other power source. Oh, and there’s no municipal sewer out here either. The toilet is of the composting variety: Toss in a little mulch once in a while to help absorb the liquid, stir up the contents every so often to encourage those feisty micro-organisms to do that breaking down thing they do, and use the contents to feed the flower beds.

Well, the flower beds aren’t quite up and running yet, nor is the organic vegetable garden, but give the couple time – Rainford, 35, and Colbert, 29, are busy being new parents and settling in.

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‘The main goal of green architecture is to make buildings that are better to live in,’ Harmon said, pointing out that the practice is not so very new. The Charleston single house is an excellent example: It’s oriented to catch the breeze and its porch is on the south side. Sure technology has made new things possible – green roofs, geothermal heating and cooling, the use of recycled and all-natural materials – but building responsibly doesn’t take much.

That’s about all Rainford and Colbert had to start, though there’s lots more left to do. An electric fence has to go up for the horses, the toilet-ventilating chimney needs to be replaced, the grey-water system finished. The future is full. Little Amelia Rose will need a room of her own.

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