YRITWC Training Efforts

Rural Alaskans learn to install and manage alternative energy systems

by Maria Downey KTUU
Thursday, December 10, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- More rural communities are seeking alternative energy options, so more training is underway to learn how to use the new technology.

Students from several towns and villages are now taking a two-day class at Susitna Energy Systems in Anchorage.

They're learning how to install and manage alternative energy systems such as wind and solar. They'll then go back to their communities to explain the viable options and be prepared to do the hands-on work that would follow.

More rural communities are seeking cheaper and cleaner options to cut down on the use of expensive fuel.

"It's important because being in a bush community it costs a lot of money for everything, especially electricity," said Chevak resident Shawna Noratak.

"I think it's very important because people are unaware that we have other resources such as wind turbines," Noratak said.

The class has been developed through the efforts of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, the Denali Training Fund and Susitna Energy and lasts through Friday.

Contact Maria Downey at mdowney@ktuu.com


Dept. of Labor Training WIN WIN

Students from local villages team-up with Interior Region Housing Authority and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council to deploy solar photo voltaic technology in Alatna. Homeowners to benefit directly from renewable energy technology and lower electric bills.

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New ALT Housing Sprouting

Anaktuvuk Pass (AKP) is a pocket of beauty set in the far north-central region of the Yukon River Watershed. The Inupiat community of 350 in the central Brooks Range is about as remote as you can get in Alaska.

But living there is not easy. Residents endure some of the coldest winter temperatures in Alaska. The region is treeless therefore biomass energy resources are scarce. With no road or large river access, all petroleum based fuels must be flown in by plane. At $8.00/ gallon for stove oil and $10.00/gallon for gasoline, the cost of living in AKP is one of the most expensive in the Nation.

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As in all of the villages in the Watershed, the '70s-era wood-frame houses are poorly suited to life where everyone expects to see temperatures that drop below zero regularly.

The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC), with funding from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), has teamed-up with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC), DWScientific and the Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority (TNHA) to help develop a more energy efficient, culturally and environmentally appropriate housing alternative for residents in AKP.

That means building a high-tech thermal envel h MaxGuard walls (think of your truck's bedliner). Add about 7 inches of soy spray-foam insulation, and set the Mound up earth on two or three sides. Finally, cover the roof with sod. It means orienting each house to capture the sun's heat and deflect snow drifts. It means creating "cool rooms" outside the living areas for butchering and drying game and providing natural refrigeration.

It also means supporting the energy needs of the home through the use of Solar Panels and a Wind Powered Generator. The YRITWC Energy Department staff worked this past summer and into the fall field season to construct and commission a 1000Watt Photo Voltaic Array on the south facing wall of the new home and a 700Watt Ampair Wind Generator behind the home. The renewable energy systems are 'grid-tied' which means, when active, the energy produced will support the home needs. It will also put energy back into the village power grid when energy produced exceeds the immediate needs of the home.

The YRITWC Energy Department has high hopes for the project. Data recorded throughout the two year experimental phase will show how viable these systems are in the arctic. Given the cost of energy in AKP, the energy produced will also be a direct financial benefit to the new homeowner.

Additional Links to checkout:

YRITWC Photo Set:


First Alaskans Magazine Article:

CCHRC Website Sustainable Dwellings:


CCHRC Sustainable Housing

Sustainable Northern Shelter: Anaktuvuk Pass House Completed

Fairbanks– The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) is pleased to announce the completion of construction of its Sustainable Northern Shelter (SNS) demonstration house in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. Construction began on June 16 with substantial completion four weeks later on July 11.

With guidance from CCHRC and Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority (TNHA), students from Barrow’s Ilisagvik College built the home to gain home‐building knowledge and experience, which they can apply to future building projects across rural Alaska.

“We hope this prototype home, in Anaktuvuk Pass, will change the approach to designing and building affordable, energy‐efficient, culturally‐based, and environmentally‐appropriate buildings for Alaska,” says CCHRC President and CEO Jack H├ębert. “This is the beginning of a new day for rural Alaska. This project incorporates ten thousand years of sustainable principles with new technology.”

Located in the central Brooks Range, the small community of Anaktuvuk Pass has a number of homes poorly constructed for the extreme climate, and a shortage of housing overall. The completion of the home marks an important milestone in the Anaktuvuk Pass portion of the CCHRC’s Sustainable Northern Shelter Program. The program aims to work with local communities to build affordable, culturally‐rooted, energy efficient housing in rural Alaska villages by combining traditional home designs with modern home-building

As part of the SNS program, CCHRC collaborates with the people of the community on the design of the home, to ensure the home is suitable to their lifestyle. Other villages currently participating in the program include: Newtok/Mertarvik, Point Lay, and Nuiqsut. There has also been statewide interest in the project’s general design approach.

This construction method utilizes an innovative building envelope. The basic technique involves a light steel frame structure with an interior plywood skin. A soy‐based, polyurethane insulation with an R‐60 is applied to this framework. This insulated layer is covered by a spray‐applied coating, which is durable, waterproof, and resilient. Earth‐banking and a sod roof are used to buffer the structure from strong winds and drifting snow. The home makes use of natural lighting, water conservation, and other energy‐saving techniques. To further reduce the home’s need for costly energy, the Yukon River Inter‐Tribal Watershed Council installed solar panels and will be adding a wind power system to produce renewable energy.

The high cost of transporting building materials to rural Alaska was a major consideration. All the material needed for construction of this home was approximately 30,000 pounds and could fit into a single DC‐6 aircraft. An average home in Anaktuvuk Pass uses 1,400 gallons or more of fuel oil per year and can cost over $1 million to build, including shipping of materials. The Sustainable Northern Shelter home is designed to use 110 gallons of fuel oil a year and cost under $150,000 to construct, including shipping.

The village of Anaktuvuk will choose a family to live in the home. Over the winter, CCHRC will monitor the building’s condition and systems to assess where changes can be made in future homes for Anaktuvuk Pass.

The Anaktuvuk Pass SNS project partners include: Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority(TNHA), Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, City of Anaktuvuk Pass, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, GW Scientific, Alaska State Museum, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Nunamiut Corporation, Ilisagvik College, Yukon River Inter‐Tribal Watershed Council, Lifewater Engineering Company, Engineering and Environmental Internet Solutions, and Demilec USA.


Located in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Cold Climate Housing Research Center is a non‐profit institution dedicated to research that improves the durability, health, and affordability of shelter for people living in circumpolar regions around the globe.

For more images of the construction of the Anaktuvuk Pass home, visit:

Photo Set:

Press Release:




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Economic Crisis

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis


January 12, 2009 at 1:42PM AKST

A combination of extreme cold and high fuel prices has created a humanitarian crisis for the village of Emmonak, according to resident Nicholas Tucker.

In a letter sent out as a cry for help, Tucker describes economic conditions in which families are rationing food and warmth for themselves and their children in the Southwest Alaska village of 800.

The situation could easily worsen — extreme cold that arrived early this winter and stuck around means heating fuel must soon be flown in, which residents fear will push the price from $7.83 per gallon to $9 a gallon or more.

In the letter, Tucker, who calls himself a longtime advocate for the region, describes the desperate circumstances faced by several families. He learned about their situation after putting out a VHF radio announcement in the village asking families to describe how they were weathering the fuel crisis in rural Alaska.

Tucker requests a “massive airlift” of food and said money from churches, state agencies and other groups is needed to offset the high fuel prices. The 100 gallons of free heating fuel for every home in Alaska Native communities that has been promised by oil company Citgo will help. But it won’t be enough because it will last only one month, he said.

Tucker originally circulated the letter on Jan. 10 at a meeting in Emmonak in which Lower Yukon River villages discussed ways to lower fuel prices next spring. The letter has also been sent to some churches, the Food Bank of Alaska and officials with Calista Corp., the Native corporation for the region which owns this and other rural newspapers.

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis