Taking the chill out of Arctic homes

From The Arctic Sounder, Wednesday, August 25, 2010:

The success of an innovative new home in Anaktuvuk Pass – which uses a wind power, solar panels and design features of traditional Nunamiut sod housing – is changing the way houses will be designed and built on the North Slope.

“This is a huge leap forward – I hope it has tremendous impact,” said Daryl Kooley, of the Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority.

The house used just 87 gallons of heating fuel from November to June. Other homes typically use about 100 gallons of fuel per month.

It also cost a lot less to build – just $220,000, compared to a normal three-bedroom home in Anaktuvuk Pass, which runs upwards of $570,000.

The house was the prototype in an effort to find ways of building better, more cost-effective houses in rural Alaska, which “grew out of the fact that estimates for new housing were so extraordinary,” Kooley said. A modest, three-bedroom home in Nuiqsut constructed in the usual way, for example, can cost over $1 million to build.

That is a real problem in North Slope villages, which suffer over-crowded, crumbling homes in desperate need of replacement. To find a solution, TNHA teamed up with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, a nonprofit that works on developing housing designs for the circumpolar north.

“We are going to have diminishing financial resources for building in rural Alaska given the economic reality of the U.S. So how can we together address the high cost of housing? We can do that together so the future is a little brighter for these communities,” said CCHRC president and CEO Jack Hebert.

The Anaktuvuk Pass prototype house was the first structure built as part of CCHRC’s Sustainable Northern Communities project, a program begun in 2008 to engineer housing solutions for rural northern communities.

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