How do they DO that in all that cold up there?


Oct 20, 2010

Maybe you recall a while back when we discussed one of the OTHER Cold Climate Housing Research Center houses.  It was built in another remote area of Alaska in Anaktuvuk Pass, above the Arctic Circle.  Recently, I decided to take another look at the CCHRC site and see what new info might be found there since the Anaktuvuk house was occupied:

“Data is collected to help improve the understanding of the various building systems incorporated into the house and the various climate conditions in Anaktuvuk Pass.”

I quickly became confused trying to figure out how the fresh air coming into the Anaktuvuk house was 68 degrees F (?)

I checked the air temps at for that community, which took me to the area forecast for “Northeastern Brooks Range”.  On the day I searched, I saw 5 above, 10 above, etc., and I clicked on a link to Anaktuvuk Pass.  The numbers there, too, are quite low.  So, how was the Anaktuvuk house getting 68 degrees of warm air in it?!

The site has various graphs that express a number of kinds of data.  After a bit more careful reading at the CCRHC site, I learned the following info on how smart these guys are who built this house in that harsh land:

1) “The following plots show the air temperature that enters the house through the fresh air intake (top graph) in the front of the house. For comparison, the intake air temperature from the house to the onsite sewage treatment plant (STP) designed by Lifewater Engineering Company is shown in the bottom graph. Air brought into the house through the passive vent system is warmed up in the attic, before entering living spaces. Using warm air from the house for input into the STP helps keep it warm and saves energy.”  (Wow, these guys are so far advanced over ordinary home building!)

2) “The following plots show the temperature in the attic space in the house. Passive heat exchange occurs in this area and portions of water supply utilities are located in this warm space, saving space in the main portion of the home.”  (I love it!)

3) “The following plots show the difference between temperatures inside and outside the house. Staying warm and comfortable inside while extreme Arctic winters dominate winter months is a critical design issue for Alaskan housing.”  (These researchers and home builders are just amazing.)

Please refer to their site for more information at

When the CCHRC comes out with new prototypes, I might as well fire up the popcorn and settle into a comfy chair to read and learn the latest news.  The great things they are doing, in conjunction with the local communities seeking their housing research assistance, is some of the best stuff going on the Intertubes today!


3 Responses to “How do they DO that in all that cold up there?”

  1. Gramiam44 Says:

    This is not only very exciting stuff, but is a wonderful example of what can be done by people who actually live in these conditions and know what works.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    This heat exchange was developed in Europe where they are working on very energy efficient homes.

  3. Man_from_Unk Says:

    We need more smart thinkers in Alaska. That’s the only way we’ll join the modern world.

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