Buckland Alaska

Buckland Healthy Homes

The Buckland Healthy Homes project, led by the Native Village of Buckland, will provide comprehensive home-based healthy homes intervention services in Buckland, Alaska. The primary purpose of the project is to improve the quality of life, health, and safety of residents. The Native Village of Buckland is a traditional Inupiaq community that depends on caribou,…

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Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Community Sustainability Models

Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Community Sustainability Models CCHRC worked with WHPacific and Nuvista Light and Electric Cooperative to create community sustainability models for villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The goal was to identify shared services in areas such as health, transportation, education, sanitation, housing and energy that could reduce the cost of living in the region, and…

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Mountain Village Small Home Design

Mountain Village Small Home Design CCHRC is working with the Asa’carsarmiut Tribal Council in the lower Yukon community of Mountain Village to design a small “starter home” as an alternative to the standard 3-bedroom home found in most of rural Alaska. The home will be geared toward young couples, elders, and singles and can expand…

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Chefornak Head Start Building

Chefornak Head Start Building CCHRC is helping design a new Head Start building for Chefornak, a Yup’ik village of roughly 400 in southwest Alaska. Chefornak sits on the Kinia River, just a little upriver from the Bering Sea, in a region that has become extremely susceptible to erosion in recent years as sea ice retreats…

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Arctic Walls

Arctic Walls: an R-60 double wall The Arctic Wall is a double-wall system with a thick layer of cellulose insulation that is designed to allow water vapor to diffuse through the wall. The system was designed by Fairbanks builder Thorsten Chlupp and uses some of the principles of the REMOTE wall—another super-insulated building technique that…

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Boiler Basics

Boiler Basics Today’s boilers offer a wide range of customized options to maximize efficiency, and Alaska’s climate justifies paying for the most efficient system possible up front, since the extra money will be paid back several times during the system’s operating lifetime.  Because of the many variables involved in selecting a boiler for your home,…

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Maintaining Your Crawlspace

Maintaining Your Crawlspace Crawlspaces are an area of the house that tend to get neglected.  The old adage “Out of sight out of mind” might apply here.  Unfortunately, this also means that crawl space problems can go unnoticed until they have an effect on the living space above.  At this point, a problem that could…

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UAF Sustainable Village

Planning a Home

The Foundation This is your best chance ever to get it right, so know your soils and build accordingly. Good site drainage and foundation waterproofing are crucial here. Ground moisture can be an ongoing problem if it isn’t dealt with initially and is extremely expensive to fix later. This should include a hard look at…

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Secure and Resilient Power Generation in Cold Regions

Secure and Resilient Power Generation in Cold Regions Working in collaboration with Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) staff, researchers with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center will carry out a techno-economic assessment of new energy options at Fort Wainwright. Researchers will…

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Building Science Calculators

Building Science Calculators TitleTopicTypeResource LinkDew Point CalculatorBuildingCalculators, External LinksVisit Website Domestic Hot Water CalculatorBuildingCalculatorsDownload Frost Protected Shallow Foundation Insulation CalculatorBuildingCalculators, External LinksVisit Website Solar Heat Gain Through Windows CalculatorBuildingCalculatorsDownload Water Storage Freeze CalculatorBuildingCalculatorsDownload Related Resources TitleResource LinkConsumer Guide to Home HeatingDownload Healthy Indoor Air Snapshot 1Download Understanding Stack Effect and Air Leakage Open in New…

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Home Energy Rebate Program Energy Efficiency Measures Review

Home Energy Rebate Program Energy Efficiency Measures The Home Energy Rebate Program retrofitted nearly 27,000 homes in Alaska, saving Alaskans $261 million in energy costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3 billion pounds from 2008 to 2018. This project analyzed which energy efficiency measures were actually implemented in this program for the first…

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Biomass Greenhouse Handbook

Biomass Greenhouse Handbook CCHRC produced a handbook for school districts and other organizations about how to build and operate a biomass-heated greenhouse.  The project is funded through the Alaska Energy Authority and the US Forest Service. The handbook covers everything from planning a greenhouse to financing, construction, growing produce, and incorporating lessons into school curriculum. The…

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Sustainable Priorities for Alaska Rural Communities

Sustainable Priorities for Alaska Rural Communities CCHRC helped synthesize energy efficiency retrofits in the two rural villages of Anvik and Hughes. With funding from the Denali Commission and the State of Alaska, the communities were able to complete energy audit recommendations on several community buildings. CCHRC’s role was to document the energy audit recommendations, retrofits, and energy…

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Fairbanks Nonprofit Retrofit Pilot

Fairbanks Nonprofit Retrofit Pilot The Cold Climate Housing Research Center is initiating a pilot project to help Alaska nonprofits save money by making their buildings more energy efficient. A cohort of nonprofits was selected in 2014. The Fairbanks Nonprofit Retrofit Pilot provides energy audits and low-interest loans to nonprofit organizations and tribal building owners as…

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Alaska Housing Assessment

Alaska Housing Assessment CCHRC updates the Alaska Housing Assessment every few years to provide a current snapshot of the housing stock in Alaska, with data presented at local, regional, and statewide levels. The report shows the energy performance, cost, age and condition of housing across the state, helping guide the state’s housing and energy policy.…

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Geopolymer Cements

Geopolymer Cements CCHRC is performing a high level analysis of the local market potential for geopolymer cements. The analysis includes an assessment of available local materials, potential of local product manufacturing, and potential economic feasibility. This is a sister project to the Magnesium Phosphate Cement Testing and Application project funded by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation…

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Passive Refrigeration

Passive Refrigeration This project looked at ways to use the cold temperatures during Alaska winters to lower the electrical demands of residential refrigerators and freezers. CCHRC worked with industry partners to test a prototype of a passive refrigerator/freezer that used electricity only when the outdoor air temperature is too warm to sustain refrigerator temperatures. The…

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Mold Survey

Mold Survey In early March, 2003, we were contracted by the HUD Office of Native American Programs (through Magna Systems) to do a rapid survey of mold problems in Alaska Native Housing. We contacted 73 of 88 regional or village housing authorities in Alaska and documented over 1700 apartments or homes that had some level…

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Wall Moisture Studies

Wall Moisture Studies CCHRC studies various building envelope designs in the Mobile Test Lab, a trailer with nine test wall bays that allows us to test multiple insulation strategies under the same conditions. During active studies, we simulate conditions of a “normal” house inside the Mobile Test Lab. Sensors embedded in the walls record temperature,…

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Structural Insulated Panels

Structural Insulated Panels Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are prefabricated building materials used in residential construction in Alaska. This project prepared resources for homeowners who want to learn about SIPs, where they are used in cold climates, and considerations for Alaska. Resources TitleTypeResource LinkBuilding with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)Videos Open in New Tab Structural Insulated Panels…

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Fuel Use Monitoring

Fuel Use Monitoring CCHRC researchers are testing several methods of monitoring fuel use at the household level. The study, funded by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, is an attempt to identify a cost-effective and accurate method to monitor heating oil consumption across Alaska. That data could then be used to evaluate whether state energy efficiency…

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Arctic Wall Study

Vapor Diffusion-Open Walls Study CCHRC monitored the performance of Fairbanks builder Thorsten Chlupp’s passive solar home over one year. The superinsulated house demonstrates innovative building and mechanical systems, with a super-insulated foundation, integrated heat storage system, and an open wall design that allows vapor to diffuse through. This home shows that buildings can perform well…

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Healthy Homes in Alaska

Healthy Home in Alaska CCHRC partnered with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) on the Healthy Homes Initiative in Fairbanks and Hooper Bay in 2004-2005. This was a two-year project that included the University of Alaska and state weatherization agencies. The purpose of the program was to demonstrate cost-effective, preventative measures to correct health hazards…

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Anchorage Foundation Insulation Study

Builders in Southcentral Alaska asked CCHRC to study an insulation strategy currently being recommended that involves insulating with R-38 batts from the rim joist down the foundation wall and four feet horizontally inward along the crawlspace floor. Through monitoring temperatures in and around foundations, CCHRC is investigating whether the technique may subject foundations to frost…

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LED Lighting Analysis

LED Lighting Analysis Fluorescent lighting dominates in public facilities and commercial buildings because it is relatively efficient and widely available. Yet LED (light emitting diode) lighting is even more efficient: converting a T8 fluorescent lamp (pictured left) to an LED can save upwards of 40% on energy. With the rapid growth in LED products and…

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Bath Fan Installation

Bath Fan Installation Best Practices CCHRC will test five Panasonic WhisperGreen Select bath fans at the Research and Testing Facility and evaluate runtime, relative humidity, and temperatures in the ducts. A final report will document best practices for installing bath fans in a cold climate. Resources TitleTypeResource LinkBathroom Fan Best PracticesSnapshotsDownload Partners Related Projects

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CCHRC Video

Building Envelope Overview

Understanding Your Walls Because walls typically represent the largest exterior surface area of a home, from an energy standpoint they are the most important part of the building envelope. There are many ways to construct an energy efficient wall, including various types of structural framing, insulation, air and vapor sealing, and more. One thing that…

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Tununak Prototype

Public safety housing in Tununak A new home is being built in Tununak that will benefit the entire community. The village has been unable to recruit a Village Public Safety Officer in recent years because of a lack of housing. With funding from AVCP Inc., the village hired CCHRC to design a home that’s safe,…

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UAF Sustainable Village

Sustainable Village at UAF

Sustainable Village at the University of Alaska Fairbanks CCHRC partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to design a sustainable student village that includes a cluster of super energy-efficient homes with shared open space, a community garden, and footpaths between buildings. The village will be on University property adjacent to CCHRC’s research center. The first…

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Pilot Project in Oscarville

“Holistic Approach” Pilot Project in Oscarville In Fall 2014, a group of rural development professionals and agency leaders held the first roundtable on a Holistic Approach to Sustainable Northern Communities. The roundtable brought together federal, state, and local partners to develop a more collaborative approach to projects in rural Alaska. While issues like energy, housing, transportation,…

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Galena home

Galena Prototype

Galena Prototype Home The 2013 ice jam on the Yukon last spring unleashed some of the worst flooding in Alaska history, filling Galena with icy water two feet above the 100-year flood line. Ninety percent of homes needed repairs and more than 20 needed to be entirely rebuilt. CCHRC collaborated with FEMA and the Alaska…

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Newtok/Mertarvik Relocation

Newtok/Mertarvik Relocation CCHRC is working with the Newtok Village Council on several projects to help the community relocate. Newtok is a village on the southwest coast of Alaska that is severely threatened by erosion and melting permafrost. The community is in the process of moving to a new site on higher ground, called Mertarvik. Prototype…

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Atmautluak Prototype Home

Atmautluak Prototype

Atmautluak Prototype Home CCHRC worked with the Atmautluak Traditional Council to design and build two prototype homes in the community and assist in the foundation of a tribally owned construction company. The project was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of its Rural Innovation Fund…

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buckland prototype home

Buckland Prototype

Buckland Prototype Home CCHRC designed the prototype home in collaboration with the people of Buckland. The Inupiaq Eskimo village of roughly 600 is located on the Buckland River, 75 miles south of Kotzebue. It is a transitional climate zone, characterized by long, cold winters and cool summers. Temperatures range from -60 to 85 °F. It’s…

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North Slope Housing prototypes

North Slope Prototypes

North Slope Housing Prototypes CCHRC partnered with the Tagiugiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority (TNHA) to design homes in six North Slope villages. The homes feature a unique foundation system adapted to the permafrost conditions in the high arctic. Homes were constructed in Atqasuk over the 2010 and 2011 building seasons. The design will be expanded to the…

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bethel housing

Bethel Aviation Housing

Bethel Aviation Housing CCHRC partnered with the The Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) to design two duplexes for flight school students in Bethel. The duplexes highlight the integrated truss technology and energy-efficient building strategies in a hub community, helping to publicly vet these approaches and serve as model homes in the region. AVCP is the economic development corporation for…

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venetie prototype home

Venetie Prototype

Venetie Prototype Home The Venetie teacher housing complex uses super-insulated log walls to integrate traditional resources and high-performance building science. There’s a severe housing shortage in Venetie because of the high cost of construction, making it difficult to recruit teachers to work at the school. The new four-plex, built in 2014, provides affordable housing for…

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Atqasuk Prototype home

Atqasuk Prototype

Atqasuk Prototype Home In 2010 CCHRC worked with the Tagiugiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority and residents of Atqasuk to create a design for an affordable, energy efficient, and healthy home that reflects the people and place of Atqasuk. TNHA constructed three of the prototype homes. Resources TitleTypeResource LinkNorth Slope Housing PrototypesSnapshotsDownload Partners Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority…

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Anaktuvuk Pass prototype home

Anaktuvuk Pass Prototype

Anaktuvuk Pass Prototype Home CCHRC partnered with the Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority (TNHA) and the village of Anaktuvuk Pass to design and construct an affordable, energy efficient, healthy home that incorporated indigenous qualities like earth-berming and a sod roof. Through a partnership with Iligsagvik College in Barrow, local student labor was trained to build the…

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Quinhagak Prototype

Quinhagak Prototype Home The Native Village of Kwinhagak (NVK) asked CCHRC to partner with the residents to design a home that is affordable, energy efficient, and healthy. Project Background CCHRC designed a prototype-home with the people of Quinhagak, on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The Yup’ik Eskimo village of 700 is on the Kanektok River on the…

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Crooked Creek Prototype

Crooked Creek Prototype Home In May 2011, a flood destroyed about a quarter of the homes in Crooked Creek, a small village on the north bank of the Kuskokwim about 140 miles northeast of Bethel. Three and a half months later, volunteers framed the first replacement home in a single day, thanks to the quick…

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combustion safety

Combustion Safety

Combustion Safety Combustion safety refers to the safe operation of combustion heating appliances, such as boilers and wood stoves, and goes hand in hand with healthy indoor air quality. Through a grant from Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, CCHRC conducted a combustion air evaluation in the Fairbanks area. The purpose of the study was to assess…

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CCHRC Building Science Designs

CCHRC Prototypes

Our Design Projects The below prototypes and designs incorporate experimental building and energy technologies—such as super-insulated walls or adjustable foundations—aimed at improving the energy efficiency and affordability of housing. The goal is that these prototypes can be reproduced to provide much-needed housing. CCHRC has completed more than 12 prototype projects throughout all regions of Alaska.…

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CCHRC Building Science

Building Science Overview

Building Science at CCHRC Building science is the intersection of many disciplines–physics, chemistry, engineering, and more. It requires an understanding of not just heat, air, and moisture, but also of climate, design, and occupant behavior. Why do we care about building science? Because you want a house that doesn’t make you sick and will last…

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Building Envelope

Building Envelopes

Building Envelopes Building envelopes are the bread and butter of our research, with a major focus on developing enclosures that are cost-effective, durable, and highly energy efficient. CCHRC tests and develops a wide variety of building systems for various regions, from the cold dry climate of Interior Alaska to the wet, windy communities of the…

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mechanical Systems

Mechanical Overview

Mechanical Systems Mechanical systems include all the heating, cooling, and air handling systems that are used to keep your home comfortable and healthy. Heating When it comes to mechanical systems, the first thing Alaskans typically think about is heating. Heat is vital to life in the north, and CCHRC looks at various ways of reducing…

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Energy in Alaska

Energy Overview

Energy Overview Have you heard the saying about putting a drain plug in the bathtub before adding more water? That’s the same way we look at energy in a home. While the source of your energy is important (whether you heat with wood, diesel, or solar), it’s not the first priority in planning a house.…

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Ventilation Overview

Ventilation Ventilation is critical in any climate because it replaces stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, and flushes out potential pollutants caused by combustion appliances or offgassing materials. Ventilation is especially important in cold climates, where homes are often built tighter and allow less natural air leakage. Ventilation also controls indoor humidity, which is…

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Foundations Overview

Foundations A building’s foundation must be carefully engineered to support the weight of the structure. In cold climates, foundations are susceptible to heat loss and damage related to surrounding soil conditions. With 80% of Alaska underlaid by permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, one of the greatest challenges is building foundations that can remain stable over…

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Air Source Heat Pump

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps Air source heat pumps have traditionally been used in warmer climates than Alaska for both heating and air conditioning. However, recent models of ASHPs are able to provide space heating at lower temperatures, down to 0°F. ASHPs take heat from the ambient air and use electricity to “step up” the heat…

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brheathe System

BrHEAThe System

BrHEAThe System The BrHEAThe system is an integrated heating and ventilation system developed by CCHRC to improve energy efficiency in homes while maintaining healthy indoor air quality. The system marries together heating and ventilation so that incoming air is always warm and fresh. Once supply air is brought in through the heat recovery ventilator (HRV),…

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Crawlspace Foundations

Crawlspace Foundations

Crawlspace Foundation A crawlspace foundation is a conventional option for building on stable soils. It consists of footings and walls (typically poured concrete) that elevate the home from the ground, creating a “crawlspace” area between the ground and the first floor of the home. While residents typically don’t spend much time down there, the crawlspace…

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slab foundation

On-grade Foundations

On-grade Foundations On-grade foundations are a popular design in Interior Alaska because they are less expensive than crawlspace foundations without having the energy penalty of raised foundations. “Slab-on-grade” means the house rests on a concrete slab directly on the ground. The edges of the slab are thick to accommodate the weight of the walls and…

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Biomass

Biomass

Biomass 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…

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Ground Source Heat Pump

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps Ground source heat pumps take heat from the ground and use electricity to “step up” the heat to a temperature that can be used for space heating. While they are most efficient in warmer ground, they are becoming more effective and more popular in cold climates like Interior Alaska. Significant amounts…

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Heat Recovery Ventilator

Heat Recovery Ventilators

Heat Recovery Ventilators & Energy Recovery Ventilators Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) are becoming increasingly common in cold climate construction and are almost indispensable in today’s super-insulated, airtight homes. As older homes are getting retrofit and becoming tighter and more insulated, they are also facing indoor air quality issues. HRVs improve the IAQ of your home…

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Weatherization

Weatherization

Weatherization Weatherization refers to the process of making your home more energy-efficient through taking simple measures like caulking windows and weather-stripping doors. Like any home retrofit, there are many steps you can take depending on the unique characteristics of your home. For example, if you have old, leaky windows, caulking around the edges may be…

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Wall Retrofits

Wall Retrofits

Wall Retrofits Walls make up the greatest surface area of your home. Depending on how well-insulated your current walls are, a wall retrofit may be the best way to achieve deep energy savings. The key to efficient, durable walls is proper moisture management. Cold climate walls are especially susceptible to moisture damage, as moisture from…

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Solar Power

Solar

Solar The world’s northern latitudes offer a unique opportunity for solar energy. While we have little to no sunlight in the winter months, we have an abundance in the summer. With the high cost of electricity and the growing impacts of climate change, solar power offers a clean solution to providing energy to our homes.…

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Permafrost Foundations

Permafrost Foundations

Permafrost Foundations The #1 piece of advice for building on permafrost: Don’t do it! That’s because homes are designed with the assumption that the foundation is both permanent and stable, and permafrost is neither. When permafrost thaws and settles, it causes foundations to move, which can create small problems like cracks in the drywall or…

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thermal storage

Thermal Storage

Thermal Storage Thermal storage refers to technologies that store heat for later use. It can take many forms: water storage tanks that allow residents to increase the firing time on an outdoor wood boiler so it burns more efficiently; a storage tank for an electric heating system to enable off-peak power use; or storing heat…

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Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality Indoor air quality refers to the quality of the atmosphere in a building, including temperature, humidity, and the amount of pollutants such as carbon dioxide, radon, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. You hear about it more these days because homes are being built more airtight and better insulated than ever before.…

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electrical systems

Electrical

Electrical Power systems are important to any home, whether in the circumpolar north or elsewhere around the globe. As the technology surrounding electrical systems advances, appropriate and safe design practices must also keep the pace. Conserving power is even more important in cold climates because the cost of electricity tends to be significantly higher. CCHRC…

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Plumbing

Plumbing

Plumbing Appropriately designed plumbing systems in climates that are subject to freezing temperatures are of utmost importance. All components of the water system must be evaluated carefully, including storage, supply, waste, vent, and septic systems. The more extreme the conditions, the more critical the need for a properly designed system. Proper plumbing design, materials, installation,…

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Double Walls

Double Walls

Double Walls The double wall has been used to build energy efficient homes for a long time. While there are many ways to do it, the basic premise is to build one structural wall (typically the inside wall), build a second wall around it, and fill the space between with insulation. It has several advantages…

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Furred In Walls

Furred-in Walls

Interior Furred Wall An interior furred wall is a common method of achieving a cost-effective, energy efficient, highly airtight wall. A compromise between a conventional wall and a super-insulated wall, the “furred-in” wall improves your energy efficiency without the extra cost of building a REMOTE wall (which requires adding ⅔ the total insulation value on…

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Integrated Truss

Integrated Truss Walls

Integrated Truss  The integrated truss is a prefabricated wall assembly that connects the roof, wall, and floor into a single structural piece that can be easily tipped into place. It was created for emergency housing situations that required extremely simple and quick designs but that could still perform well in the Arctic. In the first…

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REMOTE Walls

REMOTE Walls

REMOTE Wall One of the greatest challenges of building in a cold climate is managing moisture in the building envelope. That’s because of a familiar concept called vapor drive, in which water seeks to go from a more concentrated state to a less concentrated state. What does this mean for your building? When it’s cold…

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roofs

Roofs

Roofs Of all the building components, the roof system faces some of the most severe challenges. In cold climates, a roof must be properly sized, well sealed, energy efficient, and perform reliably under the extremes of each season. The roof has two main challenges: retaining heat effectively and controlling moisture trying to escape from the…

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Windows

Windows In general, windows account for a proportionately small area of the thermal envelope. At the same time they are one of the most important parts of a home, used for light, ventilation, passive heating, and other aesthetic reasons. In cold climates, windows often represent a significant heat loss because of their low insulative value…

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