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Next Generation Energy’s Sun Bandit Delivers Seventh Generation Ideals for Native Americans

Sun BanditThe nation’s first partnership to bring clean tech training and job creation to Native American lands via on-site production and delivery of net zero homes was announced by Next Generation Energy (NGE), Saga Solar and project developer Wakaiagon Innovations from the floor of Solar Power International, North America’s largest solar trade show, in Las Vegas in September.

The agreement -- between Sun Bandit® parent Next Generation Energy and Saga Solar -- calls for installation of solar PV and solar water heating solutions in the Wakaiagon housing development on Minnesota’s Leech Lake Territory, whose pilot phase calls for 24 sustainable homes to be built and ready for occupancy on Native American lands by summer 2017. Future phases have the capacity to sate the HUD-defined shortage of an additional 4,700 homes on Leech Lake Territory. A broader view reveals the need for as many as 385,000 new households(1) on tribal lands across North America.

“This is the first initiative to introduce a holistic approach to sustainable living, economic development, education and job creation for Indigenous Americans in over half a century,” said Wakaiagon Innovations CEO Mike Myers.   

“Indigenous people have lived sustainably for centuries. But when the federal government took the land, told us where we were going to live and how, we lost the gift of sustainable living,” recalls Myers. “This project brings us to a better place – one that aligns with the Seventh Generation philosophies of Indigenous Americans.”

As part of the deal, Saga Solar, a newly-acquired Aki Development company, will be relocating its main production facility from St. Paul to Cass Lake Minnesota, the seat of the Leech Lake Ojibwa’s tribal government, where it will become the first and only solar panel manufacturer to be indigenously owned and located within the territory of a First Nations’ tribal land.

In preparation for the juggernaut of jobs the project will create, Aki and manufacturing partner Saga Solar are working with Leech Lake Tribal College to implement a curriculum for students focusing on photovoltaic manufacturing and installation.

Saga Solar will be delivering modules used to power the homes and – as a Sun Bandit Preferred Partner – will provide panels that can be seamlessly integrated into Sun Bandit’s patented, PV-powered solar water heating systems, which can be grid-tied or provide hot water and storage independent of the grid.

“The key to this partnership is our shared vision to deliver clean tech solutions for Native American tribal communities,” said Saga Solar Founder and CEO R. Marie Zola. “Right now, the average Native family spends upwards of 40% of their income on living in their house. As a result, families are having to share households in order to make ends meet. We want to turn that around. Our selection of Sun Bandit’s new hybrid water heating and storage system is really at the center of this strategy,” continued Zola.

The homes being built through Wakaiagon are modeled after the University of Minnesota Duluth’s House-Cubed (House3) living concept(2), a closed-wall hybrid building system whose locally-sourced envelopes can be assembled on-site in a plug-and-play format in as few as eight hours. 

“As we mark 5 years since the first Manufacturing Day, we must inspire the next generation of workers and innovators to seek careers in manufacturing. Let’s continue working to strengthen and expand the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow and ensure that opportunity for all is something we can keep making in America for generations to come,” President Obama announced on October 6.

While the educational and economic opportunities this partnership provides combined with the privilege of delivering quality sustainable solutions for Native Americans living in affordable housing aligns perfectly with the President’s desire to prepare tomorrow’s workforce for Made In America manufacturing jobs, it also aligns with Aki Development, Saga Solar and Next Generation Energy’s shared vision of making solar available to everyone. 

Who owns the sun? With partnerships like these, we all do.

Read the news release chronicling this historic partnership here.

Review the full White House briefing on “New Progress In A Resurgent Manufacturing Sector” by clicking here.

CLICK or call 1-877-NGE-4SUN (1-877-643-4786) to discuss how Sun Bandit can add value to your sustainable housing needs and enhance your company’s bottom line.

Sun Bandit® is a trademark-registered, patented product innovation of Colorado-based Next Generation Energy (NGE®), whose expertise in PV, solar thermal and off-grid system design have been delivering high-performing, money-saving renewable energy solutions to commercial, utility-scale, governmental, individual and multi-family housing interests for over 30 years.

(1)US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development,
(2)House-Cubed was developed by Pat Donahue at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). 

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