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.
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 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 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 The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, December 29, 2010:
An air pollution plan that has so far taken more than a year to push through for the Fairbanks North Star Borough will no longer carry any fines or enforcement power if a revised version is approved next month.
Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins revised the air quality ordinance to comply with a ballot measure passed in October banning the borough from regulating home heating devices. The proposed ordinance will go before the Borough Assembly for first reading Jan. 13.
“We had an air quality plan passed. We barely entered winter, to see if it would have an effect on the large emissions we have in our airshed, when voters said ‘No thanks’ in October,” Hopkins said.
Now enforcement falls to the state and could end up being tougher than local control would have been, Hopkins said.
An advisory panel unanimously approved the updated plan Monday, but only because it had no choice, said Charles Machetta, chairman of the Air Pollution Control Commission. The updated version reduces a mandatory program based on hard limits and penalties to a voluntary program based on education and expert assistance.
“It’s a pretty toothless document,” Machetta said. “The sentiment of the commission is, we hated the document, we hated what happened with Proposition A (the ballot measure) and our hands are completely tied.”
The revised plan also transfers enforcement power to the state, which abides by similar air quality regulations and could enforce compliance through civil action rather than fines.
Continue reading: Fairbanks borough pollution plan goes before assembly for final touches
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, December 28, 2010:
The Fairbanks North Star Borough is negotiating to launch a pilot recycling program at three transfer sites and the landfill next month, according to borough mayor Luke Hopkins.
If the deal with K & K Recycling Inc. is inked, bins would be put out at the landfill, the transfer site in North Pole and two transfer sites on Farmers Loop for collecting paper, glass, plastic, aluminum and tin.
The pilot program likely would last three years. If it is successful, Mayor Hopkins said residents could see recycling bins at more transfer sites, the trash drop-off locations for people who don’t have trash collection at home.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, December 25, 2010:
Charlie Whitaker has cleaned chimneys of boilers, furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves through his company, A Chimney Sweep, for 27 years.
“Boilers and furnaces can malfunction at a moment’s notice,” he said.
While he did not inspect the chimney of Alyson and Mike Padilla, which leaked carbon monoxide into their home last week, he offered some common advice for maintaining and detecting problems in oil-fired boilers and furnaces. He also explained the common causes of soot in these systems.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends you have your chimneys inspected and tuned (if they require it) annually.
From The Associated Press, Saturday, December 25, 2010:
Since North Star Borough voters eliminated fines for pollution-causing heating devices, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has taken up the responsibility.
But, KUAC-FM reports, the DEC must work through several steps before actual enforcement can take place.
The EPA has put Fairbanks on notice to reduce particulate levels by 2014.
DEC acting Air Quality Division Director Alice Edwards said the state’s regulations allow it to issue an advisory that limits the wood-fired heating devices when air quality is low.
“The DEC advisories provide another way for people to find out the status of the local air quality,” Edwards said. “It also allows DEC the ability to follow up on certain compliance concerns that are related to opacity from wood-fired heating devices.”
Violations of the advisory could begin with notices of violations and issuance of nuisance abatements, and could eventually result in civil penalties and civil suits.
Continue reading: State takes lead in limiting Fairbanks pollution
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Thursday, December 23, 2010:
Administrators for the borough are rewriting an air pollution prevention plan following October passage of a voter initiative. The borough’s public pollution control commission will review the changes Monday.
The changes follow commissioners’ request that borough officials try, “as much as possible,” to retain oversight of pollution’s impact on visibility and trans-property boundary effects, Mayor Luke Hopkins said.
The commission meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. at a special venue, Pioneer Park’s Civic Center and Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, December 15, 2010:
The state’s environmental commissioner said Tuesday the state could know by February how deep a chemical solvent from a previous spill at the refinery in North Pole has permeated the ground in the surrounding community.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies have worked for a year with the Flint Hills Refinery to study the issue, which is focused on a decades-old spill that predates the refinery’s current owner.
The spill sent sulfolane, an industrial solvent used to refine oil, into the soil. It later seeped into groundwater.
DEC Commissioner Larry Hartig said the team also is talking to national experts as it weighs the prospect of a toxicology study of long-term exposure and its health implications. Existing scientific literature is thin.
“There’s a lot of people at the table trying to help with these issues, and they take it very seriously,” Hartig told the Fairbanks North Star Borough Economic Development Commission.
The state estimates about 200 wells in and near North Pole are contaminated, but state environmental specialists indicate the levels may generally not be high enough to make people sick. The levels found in most contaminated wells are lower than levels shown by existing studies to cause harm to animals, DEC specialists said Tuesday.