Q: I heard that there is spray foam insulation that is made out of soy rather than petroleum.
Is this available anywhere in Fairbanks and does it work well?
One of the latest advances in spray foam insulation is a partial soy-based insulation. However, “soy-based” can be misleading, as the “petrochemical-based” is more accurate.
Spray foam works by combining two components, commonly referred to as the A & B components. The Acomponent is a diisocyanate (a petrochemical), which is mixed on a one-to-one ratio with the B-component that can contain modified natural or petroleum-based oils. In order to get the chemical reaction to work, the proportion of natural ingredients cannot be too high. Spray polyurethane foams can approach 40 percent natural oil, such as soy or canola oil. The total mixture, when foamed, is likely to be on the order of 20 percent to 40 percent natural oil content, depending on the recipe.
In terms of its effectiveness, the spray foam provides an R-value that is as high — or sometimes higher — than foam that do not contain soy. Spray foams are also measured in their resistance to water absorption, called a “permeability rating.” The rating of spray foam that contains soy is comparable to foam that does not contain soy.
In Fairbanks, there are spray foam installers that use soy in foam. Contact a local spray foam business for additional information.
One of this year’s most relevant forums on northern design, housing, culture and identity of the north, mobilities and ruralities and the passive house and energy efficient northern housing takes place in Alta, March 6-10 2012.
Click here to download the event flyer.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, January 14, 2011:
Only a few residents addressed the upcoming air quality ordinance during public comments preceding the sparsely attended Borough Assembly meeting Thursday evening.
The air quality ordinance (2011-03) was reframed after voters in October’s municipal election approved a proposition eliminating limits on the types of wood stoves that can be used and prohibiting the fining of borough residents for smoke emissions or burning certain items.
The revised ordinance will be up before the assembly for public comment at its Jan. 27 meeting.
At issue is the borough’s attempt to meet federal clean air standards by 2014 without turning air quality regulation over to the state.
From The Anchorage Daily News:
As the New Year approaches, many will be making resolutions. What of the gardeners?
My wish is that each and every one of us will resolve to turn our backs on the use of chemicals.
It isn’t very hard to build a case that no gardener should use chemical fertilizers, insecticides and the like. In fact, it isn’t very hard to build the case that no gardener should be ALLOWED to use them. Gardening, after all, is just a hobby.
It is undeniable, for example, that nitrates and phosphates from modern agriculture — and, yes, horticulture — have leached into the aquifers, streams, rivers and waterways of our land in excessive amounts with incredibly deleterious impacts to the health of humans as well as Nature (as if the two can be separated). Chemicals with unpronounceable names, bearing labels carrying dire health warnings, have become such a mainstay of our hobby that some of us deem their use one of our “rights as Americans.”
No matter that the poison you spray on your lawn drifts up to 75 miles when there is even just the slightest breeze, impacting the innocent child playing in the yard in the next town or the moose in the forests you may hunt and consume as much as it impacts the dandelion which is its target.
Continue reading: Gardeners: Go chemical-free in 2011
From The Daily Green:
The New Year’s resolutions you keep are those that become new habits. How do you create new habits? One of the best ways is to break down your larger goals – whether that’s bettering your health, as it so often is after holiday binging, bettering yourself or bettering the world at large – into bite-sized mantras and rules.
The larger goal has to be meaningful – you have to really want it – and the stepwise goals have to be specific and achievable. (I will lose weight by eating a healthier diet … by swapping my afternoon cookie habit for the habit of an afternoon carrot.)
It can be hard to tackle many goals at once, but here’s one strategy: Identify one thing to focus on each day of the week, and before long the devotion to each day’s goal will infuse the whole week’s activities. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
You’re convinced that a vegetarian diet – or at least a diet with more vegetables than the one you eat today – is healthier for you and the planet, but despite the evidence, you can’t get on board with such a big change in your diet. So just go meatless on Mondays. It’s a growing nationwide trend with its own organization and Website. Eating vegetarian one day a week will give you the space you need to get comfortable with new vegetarian recipes, and before you know it, you’ll be eating more vegetarian meals throughout the week.
Need some help? Try one of these, our picks for the best sustainable cookbooks and food books of 2010.
Continue reading: A Week’s Worth of New Years Resolutions for a Lifetime of Change
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Thursday, January 6, 2011:
We try to get the most mileage out of our cars, clothing, food and other commodities before buying more. But we don’t make the most of the electricity we have, a new report states of Fairbanks.
The report states it can be cheaper to invest in energy efficiency than in new sources of energy. It shows Fairbanks can cut its energy demand almost in half by investing $100 million in efficiency. That doesn’t mean turning down the heat but rather insulating and installing more efficient appliances and patching up other electricity-sucking devices.
A panel of state and local officials and energy experts convened Wednesday morning at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center to discuss the report and the potential of energy conservation in Fairbanks. They said energy efficiency would save money, improve the local business climate and create jobs.
“Energy efficiency and conservation will always be our best economic value and most secure investment. It comes with a high, tax-free rate of return,” said Todd Hoener of Golden Valley Electric Association.
The report, titled Fairbanks First Fuel, was commissioned by the non profit Alaska Conservation Analysis. It explores how Fairbanks residents, businesses and industries use electricity and how they could reap savings by investing in efficiency. It recommends measures for different sectors and gives costs and paybacks of various technologies.
From The Anchorage Daily News, Tuesday, January 4, 2011:
In Alaska, giant cabbages and other huge plants generally rule the garden.
But a couple of local growers are going the opposite direction — they’re cultivating micro produce. Sioux-z Humphrey Marshall and Rusty Foreaker have teamed up to create Northern Latitude Controlled Environment Agriculture.
In a 1,300-square-foot warehouse on Arctic Boulevard, they are growing “micro greens” indoors in a custom-designed hydroponic system. Among the greens they produce are broccoli, pac choi, arugula, beets, cress, endive, basil, cilantro, radish, pea shoots and corn shoots.
“People are familiar with sprouts,” Marshall says. “If you wait a little longer, you have micro greens. You harvest them when they are between five and 20 days old.
Continue reading: Indoor winter ‘farm’ is producing micro vegetables
From The University of Alaska Fairbanks, Tuesday, January 4, 2011:
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, with help from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, is conducting a study to measure wintertime fine particulate (PM2.5) emissions from gasoline-powered light duty trucks and cars in Fairbanks. Vehicles of all ages will be considered, but 1986 models are needed most. Vehicle owners will be paid $50/day if their vehicles are selected and used for emission testing, which is planned for two to four days in early January and two to four days in late January or February. Testing will be conducted at the FNSB Transportation Department at 3175 Peger Rd.
If your vehicle is selected, you will be contacted in approximately one week for additional vehicle and usage information, and to arrange a physical checkout of your vehicle at the borough’s transportation department. Testers won’t be able to test vehicles with exhaust leaks, liquid leaks, or other testing safety issues. All test vehicles will be fully insured against damage. Participant transportation to home or office will be provided once the vehicle has been dropped off and for vehicle pickup following the testing.
If you are interested in volunteering your vehicle, please call or e-mail Nadine Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 457-6258 with the following information: Vehicle make, model, model year and your daytime phone number or e-mail address.
UAF is proud to work with the borough on this program as well as other research efforts related to air quality in Fairbanks. This work is in line with UAF’s commitment to making our campus and our community a more sustainable one for those who work, live and learn here.
From Alaska Dispatch, Sunday, January 2, 2011:
When general contractor David Doolen and his wife Dale bought land far up Rabbit Creek Valley more than 25 years ago, they weren’t planning on disconnecting from the municipal power grid. But back then the muni would have charged the Doolens $60,000 to run up a line to connect the house to city power, so they decided to keep the lights on using solar power and a generator. Today they’ve got two solar panels in addition to the diesel generator, which is connected to a 300-gallon tank that needs filling about twice a year. One side benefit of this unique setup: When the rest of Anchorage suffers through a blackout, the Doolens’ lights stay on. “We always feel pretty smug when that happens,” David said.
Watch the video: Our Alaska: Living off the grid
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, December 27, 2010:
Federal regulators are reviewing plans for a submerged, in-river power turbine. It’s a pilot project energy researchers and the developer think could help communities across rural Alaska, where electric costs run exponentially higher than in urban hubs.
Two similar projects have been tested in Ruby and Eagle. This one, lined up for use near Nenana, would be bigger — between 50 and 300 kilowatts, via small turbines and an underwater transmission cable in the Tanana River. It would operate a little less than half the year.
Monty Worthington, a project development director for the Anchorage-based ORPC Alaska, said he hopes to have the system up and running in 2012.