Biomass is a valuable resource in many parts of Alaska where firewood is rich and plentiful. For many, it’s a fuel you can harvest right from the backyard with nothing but a saw. Biomass is a key part of our energy strategy at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center as well. With the right harvesting techniques, good appliances, and responsible wood-burning practices, it can be a sustainable fuel for generations to come.
Unfortunately, biomass has come under scrutiny in places like Fairbanks where the combination of extreme temperatures and poor wood-burning practices has created some of the worst quality in the nation. Lack of compliance with national health standards means Fairbanks will be subjected to stricter air quality requirements and potential burn bans.
The solution? The sensible approach is to do what we can to burn wood as cleanly as possible to reduce emissions. Burning wood cleanly also increases the combustion efficiency, which means less wood is needed for the same amount of heat. As a result, if you buy firewood you will pay less money and if you cut firewood you can harvest less. At CCHRC, we look for ways to burn wood cleanly so Alaskans can continue to benefit from this widely available and affordable fuel source.