Tag Archives: Safety

Use Your Head, Use Smoke Detectors

BY Adam Wasch, Energy Outreach Consultant for CCHRC and UAF CES
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner May 28th, 2009, Section A3

Don’t keep an open bucket of smoldering ashes in your house. If it doesn’t burn your house down, the carbon monoxide emissions can kill you. This simple fact escaped me during my first winter in Alaska. I thought it was a shame to waste the heat of unspent coals, so I kept an open bucket of coals inside and went to bed. Continue reading

EPA's "Design for the Environment" program certifies household cleaners

For the past several years, the US EPA has been partnering with manufacturers of household cleaners to certify “green” products using a strict list of criteria developed by industry and government.  “Design for the Environment” applies these criteria to each product submitted for certification.

According to Clive Davie, an engineer with the EPA, “We ask the manufacturer to provide us with a list of ingredients. If they are using the safest chemical for each type of ingredient, they earn the logo. If they’re not, we encourage them to reformulate.”

So far, the program has certified 22 products, from laundry soap to floor cleaner.

Click here to read a New York Times interview with Davie, published February 25, 2009.

Click here for a link to the EPA “Design for the Environment” list of certifed products.

Fairbanks homeowners begin building adventure

Gail Koepf and Rocky Reifenstuhl, Fairbanks, Alaska homeowners, are building a new home using sustainable, energy efficient techniques. CCHRC staff are filming aspects of the construction for use in a future “Best Practices” video about homebuilding in the North. The following is the first entry from Gail’s ongoing journal about the project. We will continue to post entries as their work progresses.

We are currently facing a world of energy shortages, pollution, insecurity, and diminishing resources.  These challenges have been confronted throughout time by all living creatures, as their populations pushed the limits of their existing conditions.  In order to survive, they were challenged to adapt to a new environment or had to move on.  Today moving on is less and less an option, so we had better learn to adapt and live in a way that is sustainable.  My husband and I were in a life transition and were planning our new home.   Our view was that taking steps toward sustainability was a goal second only to the need for shelter.  I have been asked several times why I wanted to experiment with my own house.  The reality is it was one of my main reasons for building.  If I had wanted a conventional home, it would have been a lot easier to purchase one (especially in the current market!).  I know there are many in Fairbanks, particularly now, who with a little encouragement would be willing to shift their concept of the “dream home” to something that is smaller & more efficient.  I am posting some of our experiences to inform others like ourselves, who are interested in downsizing and retiring here, and who are looking in to smaller, more affordable energy efficient homes.

Arctic Ocean — the new shipping channel?

From the Anchorage Daily News, on Wednesday, November 26, 2008:

With global warming melting the Arctic’s eons-old ice at an alarming rate, shipping and oil companies are looking ahead at how to exploit the new open waters.

For the past 30 years, the summer Arctic ice pack has been shrinking. In 2007, the melt reached record levels. This past summer, the ice shrank to the second-smallest area on record.

And while much of the discussions so far have been focused on dealing with global warming and on preserving habitat and protecting polar bears and walruses, another change is looming. When will commercial interests be able to develop the once-impregnable region?

Scientists say the Arctic’s seas could be essentially free of ice in the summertime by mid-century.

Click here to read the whole article.

Making nuclear plants prettier

From the New York Times on November 7, 2008:

As the world seeks low-carbon forms of energy production to reduce the emissions blamed for global warming, the champions of nuclear power have been re-branding the industry as one of the world’s greenest.

Last month, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency said “nuclear energy is virtually carbon-free” across its life cycle and “the only carbon-mitigating technology with a proven track record on the scale required.”

Now, more than two decades after accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, some people in the industry are backing a makeover for nuclear power stations in an effort to transform the industry from an industrial pariah to an environmental savior.

Click here to read the whole article.

Chimney Pipe Safety

BY: Ilya Benesch, Cold Climate Housing Research Center
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner October 2nd, 2008, Section A3

With winter on the horizon, the wood burning season is starting to gain momentum and all indications are that it will be the busiest in recent history. This brings up the topic of chimney safety. Since people in Fairbanks primarily use factory built insulated metal chimneys, the focus of this article will be on this particular type.
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Consumer Reports examines Energy Star rating

In an article on www.consumerreports.org, posted on September 29, 2008, Consumer Reports blasted the US Department of Energy “Energy Star” rating system, saying

“A number of test procedures are out of date or problematic,” says David B. Goldstein, codirector of the energy program at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Part of the reason is that the DOE doesn’t have the staff they need to do very much on test procedures. There’s also willpower. They don’t want to do it.”

What’s more, it usually takes the DOE three years to publish new rules—a period that includes comments from manufacturers, organizations such as Consumers Union, and others—and another three years for the updated minimum efficiency requirements to take effect. Comment cycles at other federal agencies are much shorter.

Click here to read the whole article.

A greener home

The first of a two-part series, “A Greener Future”, from the LA Times, September 14, 2008:

Innovations in designing green chemicals are emerging in nearly every U.S. industry, from plastics and pesticides to toys and nail polish. Some manufacturers of cosmetics, household cleaners and other consumer products are leading the charge, while others are lagging behind.

For decades, many manufacturers used the most powerful weapons in their chemical arsenals, with scant attention to where they wound up or what they might have been doing to people or the planet.

Click here to read the whole article.

Understanding Your Crawl Space

BY: Ilya Benesch, Cold Climate Housing Research Center
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner September 18th, 2008, Section A3

Crawl spaces are one of those areas in the house that tend to get neglected. The old adage “Out of sight out of mind” might apply here. Unfortunately, this also means that crawl space problems can go unnoticed until they progress into more expensive structural or health-related issues. The crawl space can also present a significant energy drain on a home if not insulated properly.
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An HRV System Overview

BY: Ilya Benesch, Cold Climate Housing Research Center
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner September 11th, 2008, Section A3

Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) systems are a relative newcomer to the cold climate construction scene, yet have become almost indispensible in today’s super-insulated, air tight homes. They are also becoming an increasingly common element in the current weatherization and insulation retrofitting trend. As older homes are undergoing energy facelifts, and becoming tighter and better insulated, they are also facing the same indoor air quality challenges one would see in new construction. In this article I am hoping to provide a basic understanding of how HRV’s work, their applications, and their advantages.
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