Building America in Alaska

Project Page

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center, the U. S. Department of Energy and Alaska Housing Finance Corporation formed a state/industry partnership to implement the Building America program in Alaska. A "Building America in Alaska" team of building industry professionals from across the state worked with cold climate experts from the Building Science Consortium. The primary goal of this project was to develop plans for energy efficient, durable, healthy, and cost effective homes affordable to moderate income Alaskans.The team designed a single-family residential home with modifications for each of three major climatic regions/environments found in Alaska. Building America homes using the CCHRC design or Building America technology have been constructed by Bee Construction in North Pole (Interior) and blu-Spruce Construction in Juneau (Southeast). These homes were readily accepted in the marketplace and sold upon or prior to completion. The performance target for these homes is Five Star Plus, which is the highest level of efficiency. A Final Report was delivered to AHFC October 30, 2001, and included the building design, material list, construction costs, and performance testing and energy modeling of the finished buildings. The plans are available from CCHRC. CCHRC staff worked with the Fairbanks Chapter of Habitat for Humanity to utilize the Building America design and technology in their projects. The "Builders Guide: Cold Climates" developed through the Building America program was reviewed by the Alaska team and CCHRC staff, and recommended updates compiled and delivered to the Building Science Consortium.


CCHRC was awarded a second grant from the Department of Energy for a State Energy Program Special Project award to continue our work on the Building America program.
The goals:

  1. to develop builder's education courses on BAA approaches to residential construction and to continue education and promotion of Building America techniques to the Alaskan building industry;
  2. testing and monitoring of the Building America houses constructed in Alaska in 2001 to assess their performance; and
  3. to develop a Building America strategy to address the cold, wet climate of Southeast Alaska which will include construction of a test module for testing wall panels for moisture, durability and energy efficiency.

The CCHRC Mobile Test Lab (MTL) was constructed in North Pole and shipped to Juneau in January 2003. Students of Construction Technology at the University of Alaska SE constructed and monitored various wall systems in the test module for a year. The REMOTE wall out performed other wall sections in terms of drying. The Final Report has been submitted to AHFC. The MTL has new wall panels, new equipment and is continuing to be monitored under funding from AHFC. 


NOTE: The information contained in these documents was developed and published as a reference for specific climatic and site conditions. These documents are not a substitute for a detailed architectural plan set or site-specific engineering. Any application of knowledge contained in this manual will need to consider site-specific issues including but not limited to applicable codes and structural design considerations for soil type, weather, and wind and snow load conditions. It is essential that a structural engineer review the plans to ensure they meet design criteria appropriate to the site. This home has many elements that require specialized knowledge. We strongly recommend that the installation of spray foam insulation, plumbing and electric work be done by professionals.


Mobile Test Lab - Wall Systems for Southeast Alaska CCHRC tested wall sections appropriate to SE Alaska in the Mobile Test Lab.
Safe & Effective Exterior Insulation Retrofits CCHRC studied various housing retrofit techniques in a test lab to investigate the thermal and moisture performance of different wall designs. The results provide standards for building energy efficient, durable, healthy homes.