Research center helps rural areas build energy-efficient homes 

By Sean Manget of the Alaska Journal of Commerce: With high fuel prices and harsh winter climes, constructing energy-efficient housing in rural Alaska communities can be a difficult task that is compounded by the prohibitively high costs. In Fairbanks, Jack Hebert and a team of engineers with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center are rising to the challenge, designing and building prototype homes and empowering communities to build more of them for themselves.

In 2008, the CCHRC began its Sustainable Northern Shelter Program. CCHRC designs sustainable home technology, with its aim being to reduce the amount of fuel used to heat rural homes.

The group contracts with local crews to get the homes built. In fact, CCHRC officials don’t actually build the homes; with input from the locals, they design it and the locals themselves build them. Consultations with the community help establish what their cultural needs are, among other things, Hebert said. The goal, Hebert said, is to enable local residents to build their own sustainable homes without the aid of outsiders. Read more

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