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Juneau provides leadership in energy efficiency.

The strong economic health of a community begins .with each individual household. High energy costs for comfort heating and hot water production often consurce a large portion of a family's disposable income. This is especially true in poorly insulated structures which are often occupied by low income residents. In Juneau, we have taken this issue seriously and have planned accordingly.

While 85 percent of the State of Alaska's revenue is produced from oil and gas development, for individual residents the oil and electricity costs are often the highest in the nation. This expense coupled with the cold northern climate can cause economic hardships for Alaskan families and their communities.

The 29,000 residents of Juneau use about $60 million of electricity and petroleum products each year. The annual per capita expenditure is about $8,000 for a family of four. Each year the local government used about $2.5 million for operation of facilities such as the hospital, airport, convention center, schools, police, fire, water and sewer facilities, street lighting, equipment fleet and general government facilities. Municipal use accounts for about nine percent of total electricity consumed by the community.

Juneau Moves Toward Conservation

In response to the second OPEC oil embargo in 1978, the city assembly (or council) appointed an energy advisory committee. Since its inception, it has been very active in the areas of renewable, least cost and life cycle energy planning. The work continued even though pass-through federal funding for energy conservation projects was being phased out during the 12 years of the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

In 1985, Juneau adopted the first meaningful residential insulation standard in Alaska. This document was later used as a blueprint by the state for its "Building Energy Efficiency Standard" implemented in 1991.

The municipality received a grant from the state in 1988 to study energy patterns and develop a cost effective conservation program. Opportunities in fighting, motor replacement and automatic control systems were identified. Most importantly, a new emphasis was placed on designs that reflect life cycle operating costs.

Energy Efficient Homes

Juneau's energy advisory committee was instrumental in the development of the Energy Rated Homes of Alaska program. It allows buyers of new efficient housing units to quality for a larger mortgage to cover the cost of increased insulation. It also permits the cost of energy improvements to existing homes to be incorporated into the long term financing package.

Education and cooperation among local governments, appraisers, contractors, inspectors, lenders realtors and home buyers has forged a dynamic synergy which has resulted in the improved quality and efficiency of homes being constructed in the community. A good example of this is the Alaska Craftsman Home Program (ACHP).

ACHP is a world class educational building science program incorporating voluntary standards for construction of affordable housing in clod climates. Juneau leads Alaska in production of these state of the art homes. These dwellings are appropriately insulated, airtight and contain a controlled mechanical ventilation system.

The Clinton administration is expected to strongly support clean energy production and efficiency measures. The provisions of the 1992 Energy Policy Act provide incentives for development of mass transit, non-polluting vehicles, building energy efficiency improvements and preferential mortgage terms for energy efficient housing. It also contains a revolving loan fund to help reduce the energy costs for state and local government facilities.

As we venture into the next century, our legacy of care and wise use of resources will be appreciated by the generations that follow.

Rosalee T. Walker is a councilmember from Juneau.
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Title Annotation:Juneau, Alaska
Author:Walker, Rosalee T.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 19, 1993
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