An international architect who has a shine for solar energy projects is speaking in southeast Iowa today (Friday) about designs he says can help save money — and the planet. Mike Nicklas, past-president of the International Solar Energy Society, says he’s designed some 45-hundred buildings incorporating solar solutions over the past three decades. Nicklas says interest in solar technologies has not slacked since he went into business in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the 1970s. He says there has been more interest recently in institutional use of solar energies, especially in schools, of technologies like daylighting, passive solar, P-V or photovoltaics systems and solar hot water. Contrary to common thought, Nicklas says solar solutions do -not- have to cost more. He says he’s been able to incorporate “green strategies” like rainwater collections systems to constructed wetlands and P-V systems and still come out ten-percent under budget. Nicklas says when trying to retro-fit a conventional home to be solar-powered, the return on the investment may not be realized for many years. Starting with a new home, he says it’s obviously a whole lot cheaper to implement passive solar strategies with south-facing glass, tile floors and other elements that add thermal storage. Nicklas is keynote speaker at the Eco-Fair being held at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield today (Friday) through Sunday.