Crestone Solar School


map SunEarth II

The Crestone Solar School is located at Shippee's Zero Energy home in Crestone, Colorado, a small mountain community nestled on the western slope of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Overlooking the pristine San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, Crestone is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, four hours south of Denver and one hour north of Alamosa.

Paul Shippee


was founded by award-winning solar architectural designer and Civil Engineer, Paul Shippee.

Paul holds a degree in Civil Engineering with a major in Structural Engineering and was the founding President of the Colorado Solar Energy Association. He also helped plan housing experiments in energy conservation research and testing with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

His teaching experience includes courses in Solar/Renewable/Alternative Energy design, at: Colorado State University, Naropa University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Denver, (Red Rocks campus – taught first Passive Solar class there). Paul also has taught privately and held workshops, along with presenting at several National ASES Solar Conferences in the 1970’s.

More recently, Paul has taught solar thermal design 2-day courses contracted through CoSEIA (Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association) at locations around Colorado. These classes focus on active solar system design, heat loss and solar gain calculations, radiant floor heating, solar and climate data, economic considerations, and other basic solar design details.

Paul has designed and built several passive solar homes in Colorado, including energy-efficient retrofits and zero-energy solar homes. While living in Boulder, Colorado Paul operated a solar design, consulting, and contracting firm as a licensed Mechanical Contractor and a licensed General Building Contractor.

Though Crestone is currently Paul's home, this is not the first house Shippee has built using the principles of Zero Energy. In 1978, Shippee was the recipient of solar design awards in the passive solar residential design competition and demonstration. This Solar Design Demonstration Program was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Solar Energy Research Institute, now known as NREL.

One of the design awards, the SunEarth home, was built in Longmont by Shippee's company, Colorado Sunworks. It was documented and published to be the best performing solar home in the country. The SunEarth home used so little fossil fuel energy that the heater's pilot light was soon turned off, resulting in extremely low energy consumption. By incorporating high levels of insulation (including earth sheltering and window insulation), water walls, and passive solar design, heating bills were minimized while keeping comfort and temperatures at a steady level.

The Crestone Solar School will teach students how to repeat these dramatic results in their own projects. Architects, engineers, owner builders, solar professionals, and interested others, will learn the fundamentals of solar energy thermal design and will gain experience in applying these to their projects.

CRESTONE SOLAR SCHOOL offers a foundation certificate course in a series of 4 - day residential classes in the summer months. The classes are a mixture of hands-on learning and theoretical study. Held at Shippee's Zero Energy home, the school will also tour innovative local solar installations. Students will be exposed to alternative building by convening at a simple and elegant working model of sustainable home living.

...a good foundation from which to grow...

The Crestone Solar School teaches the first principles for a wide variety of sustainable philosophies and the fundamentals of solar technology. The workshops go in-depth as much as four days time allows.

The curriculum focuses on:

  • The Language of Solar Energy (heat loss and solar gain)
  • Energy Conservation Techniques
  • Passive and Active Solar Heating Design for Residence
  • Solar Domestic Hot Water
  • Solar Radiant Floors
  • Solar Greenhouse
  • Straw Bale Construction Details
  • Design Review of Selected Participants Plans
  • Earth Construction Techniques
  • Photovoltaics (PV)
  • Solar Economics including Tax Credits & Rebates

The Crestone area is a hotbed of alternative building and off the grid design. In addition to Paul's home, students will have the opportunity to tour other houses in the area, as well as explore the diverse natural beauty of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and creeks. Outdoor camping is available on Paul's land or students may select local bed and breakfast accommodations.

View from back of Crestone Solar School.

Sangre de Cristo mountains - Colorado

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Crestone Solar School - P.O.Box 73 - Crestone, CO 81131 - (719) 256-4656
© 2007-2015 Crestone Solar School - All rights reserved - Disclaimer - Design P.C. Baumes - Updated 26.11.14