Richard Harkrader is one of the earliest pioneers in energy-efficient construction and passive solar design in Durham; he built multiple rental and for-sale dwellings during the 1980s
Per his bio on his company website:
Richard Harkrader, an architect emeritus, building contractor, solar installer and real estate developer, is the founder and partner in two other businesses: New Morning Solar Realty that built and managed 45 passive solar apartments with solar hot water and now owns and manages commercial real estate. In addition, Richard is Treasurer and Projects Manager for Sister Communities of San Ramon Nicaragua where he and his wife, Lonna, manage community development projects and an international award-winning eco-tourism business as well as raise organic, shade-grown coffee.
Mr. Harkrader advocates for renewable energy and energy efficiency serving three times as Chair of the NC Sustainable Energy Association, where he is currently on the Board. He served for 7 years as the environmental representative on the NC Legislative Study Commission on Electric Utility Deregulation and was instrumental in starting NC GreenPower where he was Vice Chair for 2 years. Mr. Harkrader lives in Durham, NC.
and from a writeup in the Indy from 2004
His company, New Morning Construction, is responsible for the construction of 60 houses and 15 apartment buildings in the area--all of which incorporate renewable energy systems. Harkrader closed the company in 1991 and opened New Morning Solar Realty, the business through which he rents the apartments.
Harkrader says the mental and financial benefits of solar-powered homes draw potential tenants to inquire about the apartments. He cites as one of the most significant advantages to his designs the psychological benefits of constant exposure to natural light. "On a summer day, the house is filled with sunlight," he says. "Living in a building full of sunlight is very beneficial."
About one-third of his apartment residents are graduate students--Harkrader doesn't rent to undergraduates--and many are single women, who Harkrader says are drawn by the low utility costs.
Harkrader also encourages the incorporation of daylighting into commercial buildings, such as schools, saying that students who are exposed to natural light have been shown to have higher grades and fewer absences.
Harkrader's craft is largely self-taught. Though he received a degree in architecture from Cornell University, he says that nothing he learned in school prepared him for his career as an innovator of solar-powered homes in Durham.