Sustainable Village to open this fall
Fairbanks, Alaska—This fall, 16 University of Alaska Fairbanks students will have the opportunity to incorporate sustainability research into their everyday lives.
The UAF Sustainable Village, a community of four homes on the southern edge of campus, will welcome its first residents this fall. In addition to serving as a home for the students, the four-bedroom units are a test bed for sustainable building and energy research. Researchers will monitor the energy use of various systems, including an integrated heating and ventilation system, a solar hydronic system and a biomass stove. They will also study how foundations interact with permafrost and the economics of sustainable building.
Each of the houses is about 1,400 square feet, with four bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and dining and living areas. They are superinsulated and expected to use the equivalent of about 250 gallons of heating oil a year, although some will use no oil. UAF Community and Technical College students are installing a 15-kilowatt solar array at the site, which will offset electricity use and will provide hot water for some of the homes. The students are part of instructor Dayne Ellanna’s solar photovoltaic design and installation course.
Students will pay $700 a month to live in the houses and will participate in the research as part of their housing contract. In addition, the village will serve as a model for sustainable community practices: Students will commit to a low-impact lifestyle that includes recycling, conservation, and walking, biking or using public transportation when possible. At least one of the students who plan to live at the village has also participated in both the design and construction of the homes.
The university has developed the village in partnership with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, which will lead the research portion of the project. CCHRC has designed and built the homes to meet both research and student needs. The university self-financed the $1 million project and will pay off construction costs with student rents. At less than $180 a square foot, the project is less costly than other campus construction projects.
“The Sustainable Village really is a model for how to build residential homes in the Interior,” said project manager Jenny Campbell. “This is the first step in what we hope will become a larger development of sustainable housing for our students.”