Building Science Projects

Alaska Water-Sewer Challenge The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation created the Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge to create innovative and cost effective home-based water and sewer system solutions for households in remote villages.
Certified Alaska Tough Certified Alaska Tough distinguishes building products that can withstand the extreme climate conditions of Alaska, while meeting strict energy efficiency standards.
Designs for Rural Alaska Walls

CCHRC has used spray polyurethane foam insulati

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) in Cold Climates Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) are whole house ventilation systems that exchange stale indoor air with fresh outside air, recovering both heat and moisture from the indoor air to save energy. They could help improve indoor air quality in a cold dry climate like Interior Alaska.
Ground Source Heat Pump Demonstration at CCHRC CCHRC is testing a ground source heat pump at its facility in Fairbanks, part of a goal to shift to all renewable sources of energy and test the long-term performance of heat pumps in a subarctic climate.
Permafrost Foundations CCHRC is working with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory to study ways of pairing information on permafrost soils with optimal foundation designs.
Residential Indoor Air Quality Study This project looks at new ventilation standards and recent IAQ research findings in ventilation to help inform homebuilders, architects, engineers, and other housing professionals.
Safe Effective Affordable Retrofits

Testing a new batch of wall systems that can provide affordable retrofit options.

Thermal Storage Demonstration at CCHRC CCHRC is demonstrating a thermal storage system that uses water to seasonally store energy from the sun. Click here for live data!
Air Source Heat Pumps in Southeast Alaska

ASHPs take heat from the outdoor air and use electricity to raise the temperature. Because they require less electricity than electric heating appliances, heat pumps could reduce heating costs for Southeast residents.

Anchorage Foundation Insulation Study

Read the full reportĀ 

Combustion Air/CO Study

This study looked at how homeowners provide combustion air for atmospherically vented appliances and assessed the performance of power-vented appliances.

Combustion Safety Test Failure Analysis This project investigated why buildings fail the combustion safety test and how to avoid these failures, in both new construction and retrofits. It includes a literature review, preliminary data analysis, education video, project planning, and test protocol prove-out.
Domestic Hot Water Energy Modeling

This project focuses on how to get the most whole house efficiency out of your domestic hot water system, looking at both storage tank and tankless systems to see how to maximize efficiency through insulating or other means.

Durable Envelopes for Cold Climates

CCHRC is developing and testing building envelope designs that can withstand cold climates and healthy indoor humidity levels. The Mobile Test Lab has nine test wall bays, each with a different configuration of studs and insulation—including a control wall with fiberglass batt insulation.

Evaluating Residential Heating Systems

This project measured the design heat load of houses by monitoring the runtime of the furnace in relation to outdoor temperatures. The study monitored 20 houses in the Anchorage area during very cold weather to better determine appropriate heating system sizing for the HVAC industry.

Evaluating Ventilation Systems & IAQ

CCHRC monitored 100 homes in 3 different climatic regions for relative humidity, particulates, and VOC's. The goal was to provide an evaluation of the extent to which ventilation strategies, house characteristics, location, and other factors affected indoor air quality.

Evaluating Window Insulation

CCRHC tested eight types of common window insulation treatments during a Fairbanks winter to see how they handled heat loss and moisture buildup. Exterior insulation methods, like shutters and storm windows, tended to perform the best and have the fewest condensation problems.

Foam Moisture Study

This project enables CCHRC to establish a method for measuring the moisture content of foam insulation to better evaluate building science issues of insulation products.

Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation Study

Frost-protected shallow foundations rely on placing enough insulation outside of a shallow foundation to protect it from heaving due to seasonal freezing. Temperature sensors were installed at two houses with these foundations to measure the thermal regime of the soil.

Fuel Use Monitoring

Researchers are testing several methods of monitoring fuel use at the household level to identify a cost-effective and accurate method for monitoring heating oil consumption across Alaska.

Geopolymer Cements

CCHRC did a high level analysis of the local market potential for geopolymer cements, including an assessment of available local materials, potential of local product manufacturing, and potential economic feasibility.

Green Infrastructure

Designs for 10 systems that home owners can implement to reduce rainwater and pollutant runoff from their property, which were demonstrated at homes throughout Fairbanks.

Ground Source Heat Pump & Solar Thermal at Weller School

CCHRC and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power conducted the first in-depth assessment of ground source heat pumps in Alaska. We studied a system at a local elementary school that uses warmth from the ground to heat the building, and recharges the soil with solar energy in the summer.

Health House VOC Monitoring

CCHRC collected data on Volatile Organic Compounds in various new homes in Fairbanks and Juneau to assess the effect of different ventilation strategies on indoor air quality.

Heating Appliance Use Survey This project observed actual patterns of wood heating appliance use at twelve homes in Fairbanks to quantify the amount of wood heating compared to other heating sources.
Hybrid Micro-Energy Project This project was designed to explore and demonstrate how a variety of renewable energy sources can be integrated to power single- and multi-family housing energy demands in Alaska.
Insulating Paints Two coating products were evaluated, NansulateĀ® Home Protect Clear Coat and Super ThermĀ®, to determine whether they contribute insulating properties to the building envelope when applied as an interior coating. E
Interior Shutter Evaluation CCHRC evaluated an interior window shutter system that was designed to reduce heat loss through window while preventing moisture to condensate between the window and the shutter. The window was instrumented with thermocouples, a heat flux sensor, and relative humidity sensors.
Kenai Indoor Air Quality Study This project examined the most common causes of indoor air quality problems in Southcentral Alaska by monitoring 100 homes for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, relative humidity, and radon.
Mobile Test Lab - Wall Systems for Southeast Alaska CCHRC tested wall sections appropriate to SE Alaska in the Mobile Test Lab.
Mold Survey A survey of mold problems in Alaska Native housing looked at 73 regional or village housing authorities in Alaska and documented over 1700 apartments or homes with some degree of mold problem.
Passive Refrigeration

This project looked at ways to use the cold temperatures during Alaska winters to lower the electrical demands of residential refrigerators and freezers. CCHRC partnered with industry to test a prototype of a passive refrigerator/freezer that used electricity only when the outdoor air temperature is too warm to sustain refrigerator temperatures.

Permafrost Technology Foundation Library

The Permafrost Technology Foundation produced design manuals and videos created to explain what permafrost is and where it occurs, how to conduct a thorough permafrost site investigation, and techniques for building new structures and stabilizing existing structures on permafrost.

Rainwater Catchment Best Practices

This project developed best management practices for designing rainwater catchment systems for domestic water collection, storage and distribution.

Reflective Insulation Study Reflective insulation can be effective in reducing solar heat gain in hot, sunny climates but is less effective in cold climates. This project evaluated the effectiveness of reflective insulations in cold climate construction.
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.

Southcentral Ventilation Study This study monitored nine houses in Anchorage to assess the effectiveness of their ventilation system and compliance with the Alaska Building Energy Efficiency Standard ventilation requirements.
Straw Bale House Monitoring

CCHRC gathered data from three straw bale houses in the Fairbanks area on temperature and moisture gradients throughout the straw bale insulation of exterior walls.

Structural Insulated Panels Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are prefabricated building materials used in residential construction in Alaska. This project prepared resources for homeowners who want to learn about SIPs, where they are used in cold climates, and considerations for Alaska.
Thermal Mass Study Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy, which can be useful when it comes to cold climate housing. This project clarifies the role of thermal mass in housing and includes a literature review and energy modeling with IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (ICE) software.
Thermal Storage Technology Assessment

Thermal storage allows you to store heat for later use, such as storing solar or wood heat. This report examines the potential of thermal storage systems to enhance the use of renewable heating systems in cold climates and improve the efficiency of heating systems.

Three-Stage HRV Evaluation This project looked at the effectiveness of various frost protection strategies and their effect on energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
Vapor Diffusion-Open Walls Study

CCHRC monitored builder Thorsten Chlupp’s super low-energy home to see how the innovative systems performed in the Fairbanks climate. The house has super-insulated walls and foundation, an integrated heat storage system, and an open wall design that allows vapor to diffuse through.

Wood Storage Best Practices

CCHRC completed a study on multiple wood storage methods to see how long it takes to cure firewood. Burning dry wood produces fewer PM 2.5 emissions and more heat energy, a benefit to both homeowners and all borough residents.

Wood-Burning Technology Study

CCHRC is evaluating the economic and environmental considerations of a variety of residential wood energy appliances, including wood stoves, pellet stoves, wood boilers, and masonry heaters.

Your Northern Home Website Visit CCHRC's Your Northern Home webpage to find information on energy efficiency, new construction, retrofits, ventilation, and other homeowner topics.