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What could an urban hotel, an off-the-grid lodge and a research center all have in common? They all are forward-thinking and are running their operations and coming up with solutions to be efficient and environmentally responsible.
Pike's Waterfront Lodge, a recent winner of the Green Star Award, has remodeled with solar energy, effective low-flow showers, energy efficient televisions, and carpet with recycled material and participated in a waste oil c-op. Over the past three years, they have been active in the development of a hydroponics program with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Future Farmers of America to grow food locally.
Alaska has more geothermal resources than any other US state and Chena Hot Springs Resort produces 100% of their electricity from renewable energy. All 46 buildings on site are heated geothermally. Other projects in the works include wind power, alternative fuels for transportation and replacing propane as a source. Another part of becoming a self-sustaining community is independence in food production. Chena's controlled greenhouse facilities, heated entirely with water from their geothermal resources, maintained a temperature last winter of 78 degrees while outside temperatures plummeted to -56 degrees. Examples of crops grown include lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs.
Chena's Aurora Ice Museum stays up on a year-round basis due to the utilization of an absorption chiller design powered by available geothermal resources to keep the Museum "on ice" summer and winter. In September 2005, Chena Hot Springs won an award for the absorption chiller from the Geothermal Resource Council for the best new direct use geothermal project in the United States.
The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) facilitates the development, use, and testing of energy-efficient, durable, healthy, and cost-effective building technologies for Alaska and the world's cold climate regions. A recent project, the Sustainable Northern Shelter Project, was instituted to address the needs of rural housing in the north.
Culturally designed, affordable and easily replicated and constructed homes in Anaktuvuk Pass above the Arctic Circle function with little water or energy.