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in its main building before the retrofit occurred, following an example he set: in 2013 Marisk was recognized by the World Record Academy for building the “World’s Tightest Residential Building” in terms of air-tightness. So when the discussions of the teaching space renovations began, he also pushed for the energy renovations. One major feature of the building is the REMOTE wall technique, which was refined by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks. Essentially, the project added six inches of foam insulation to the outside of the building, making it retain more heat. Many buildings in Alaska can easily use this technique to improve their own efficiency. Marsik says that upgrade was paired with a heat recovery system. That improves ventilation while reducing heat loss, improving energy usage and the quality of the air. “We are recovering the heat from the warm stale air that is going out and transferring it to the fresh cold air that is coming in,” Marsik says. The Applied Sciences building required enough of an overhaul that it was possible to add the system, but the systems are actually more common in residential buildings than commercial ones. Not all commer-

cial buildings have room to accommodate changes to the ventilation, making it a difficult upgrade in some commercial spaces.

Hard to Compare

Marsik says it’s difficult to compare energy use of the renovated building with its prerenovation status because the data isn’t available, and it’s now used for an entirely different purpose. But he notes that an Alaska Housing Finance Corporation study shows that the average public building in Alaska uses 149,372 BTUs per square foot in a year, while the new Applied Sciences facility uses an estimated 55,000 BTUs per square foot per year. Using average energy cost numbers available for Alaska, Marsik estimates that the BTUs savings translate into a cost savings of about $17,280 each year. And the building’s features aren’t all energy-focused. Marsik says the LEED criteria also look at health components of the building, so UAF used low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and other building materials that are considered better for health when they were putting together the project. Although there’s no dollar value on health, those features actually came in handy when the campus hosted a training

session for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and was able to meet the criteria for a healthy space, Marsik says.

Teaching Tool

The building itself also serves as a teaching tool. Marsik, who teaches in the building, says students can measure the walls and calculate the expected R-value based on the insulation and also get into the crawlspace to see how the heat-recovery ventilator works. “It’s not just for students in classes,” Marsik says. “If we have events here, we use it as an educational opportunity.” The certification comes at a cost, and while Marsik says not every building needs the certification, he would like to see green building techniques incorporated elsewhere in the region and the state. The renovation included a focus on techniques that could be applied by other projects, and Marsik says he’s hoping it sparks more energy-efficient buildings in the UA System and in the Bristol Bay region. “My message is about having green buildings where energy is an important component, especially in Alaska.” R Freelancer Molly Dischner writes from Dillingham.

Trust. Now, more than ever. Doing more with less is a stark reality of today’s business climate. For more than 20 years, Arcadis has successfully managed and delivered the state’s largest and most complex capital construction projects. You can rely on our Alaska-based team for exceptional and sustainable outcomes. We are Arcadis. Improving quality of life. MEA Eklutna Generation Station > Image courtesy of Matanuska Electric Association


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March 2016 | Alaska Business Monthly


Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  

“Forever Alaskan” Carol Gore, president and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority, is a quintessential leader in creating affordable housing f...

Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  

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