Energize! Sitka provided locals with the opportunity to get their certification in hazardous waste removal free of charge as a critical part of its mission to provide careers that make our community a little more "green". Sara Martin, Grant Director for Energize! Sitka partnered with Vocational Training and Resource Center (VTRC) based out of Juneau to bring this often forgotten green career.
What is HAZWOPER, you might ask? HAZWOPER stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Responders. This 40-hour intensive course led by John Lewis, instructor from VTRC, guided participants through proper clean-up procedures for those engaged with hazardous waste removal. Course topics included overview of safety standards and regulations, toxicity, risk assessment, personal protective equipment (such as the one shown in the photo the left), and safe work practices to name a few.
Six of the participants completed the course in its entirety and passed the exam to either receive their first HAZWOPER certification or attain re-certification.
Green Girls Grow is an event that toured three communities in Southeast Alaska to bring Girl Scouts a new way to look at renewable energy and conservation. Bitty Balducci, SCS AmeriCorps member, and Melissa Edwards, Girl Scout Southern Tongass Membership and Program Specialist, developed the energy-themed curriculum and made plans to tour Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Sitka in early March. The event reached over 75 girls in the three communities and gave them a look at renewable energy in Southeast as well as fundamental concepts of conservation.
The event ran two days in each community: the first for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts, the second for Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts. The activities on each day reflected the different badges and awards offered through the Forever Green campaign promoted by Girl Scouts as a long-term effort to increase energy efficiency awareness and encourage conservation in the community. The girls learned about the effects of fossil fuels on the environment, wind energy, hydroelectricity, solar power energy, and more through hands-on activities that modeled each type of renewable energy!
Ketchikan and Sitka had the privilege of hosting experts in energy efficiency for the event in their communities Gregory Fast, an engineer from Ketchikan Public Utility, showed the girls how much energy a household could save by switching to energy efficient lighting. An incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulb were connected to a meter reader and the girls observed as the dials spun much more rapidly with the incandescent, thus, using a significant amount more energy to power. University of Alaska Southeast Assistant Professor of Construction, Greg Reynolds, made a model specifically for this event to demonstrate conduction and convection in the home.He showed the girls how inadequate insulation can cause mildew, and eventually molding in walls of homes and the weatherization updates necessary to stop the cycle.
Green Girls Grow received praise from each of the hosted communities from parents, troop leaders, scouts, and professionals in the community. In fact, the event was so successful that future plans to integrate energy education into Girl Scout events across Southeast are underway. Melissa Edwards views the event as a "huge achievement towards the mission of Forever Green" and "hopes to continue the partnership between the Sitka Conservation Society and Girl Scouts of Southeast."
Last Friday, Girl Scout troop #4140 continued the Innovate Award for the Get Moving Energy Journey. As part of the journey, the girls went on an energy tour of their school, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary. Sitka School District Maintenance Supervisor, Bill Steinbaugh, volunteered to lead the girls on the tour in order to help them better understand the energy in the building they use almost 40 hours every week. He showed the scouts the backup diesel supply, the boiler room, the various air ducts throughout the school, the attic and contributed his expertise of the energy system in each location.
This detailed tour gave the girls an in-depth look at the school's energy systems and procedures. Some questions the girls asked include what kind of heating system is used, its efficiency, and any weatherization updates made to the building since it was erected in 1989. The scouts were surprised to learn that no notable weatherization improvements have been made since it was built over 20 years ago. Another shock came when the troop learned that the school spends an average of $4,600 a month on utilities during the school year!
The next step for troop #4140 is to submit the information they gained from the tour to an online database where they can compare their school's efficiency to other schools in the region as well as throughout the country. After reviewing the information they found and discussing what they experienced, they will propose various weatherization improvement options to the school board to make the building more energy efficient. Through their work, the troop hopes to encourage the Sitka School District to think of long-term energy efficiency since 5 of the top 25 top electric users in 2010 were school buildings.
Alaska Ocean Film Festival
Sheet' ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House
Thursday, March 15th
Tickets available March 2nd at Old harbor Bookstore or at the door
Brought to the good people of Sitka by the The Alaska Center for the Environment in conjunction with the Sitka Conservation Society
2012 Alaska Ocean Film Festival Program
Click the link below for previews.
Monsterboards, Holland, Matthew McGregor-Mento, 8 mins
Combine a crack up sense of deadpan humor, small waves, eco art surfboards, and a horrific fear of sharks … what do you get? Monsterboards, of course. Surf's up, enjoy the ride!
Into the Deep with Elephant Seals, USA, Sedva Eris, 11 mins
Meet the UC Santa Cruz marine biologists using high-tech tools to track elephant seals along the San Mateo coast. Some of these marine mammals weigh 4,500 pounds, can dive for a mile, and hold their breath for an hour. The elephant seals incredible come back from near extinction is a testament to the power of protected areas.
Capture: A Waves Documentary, Peru, Dave Aabo, 22mins
This piece dives deep into the impoverished community of Lobitus, Peru and the experience of surf travelers who share their passion with the youth. Witness the opportunity for empowerment as kids learn about creativity and self-expression from international surfers turned humanitarians.
The Coral Gardener, United Kingdom, Emma Robens, 10 mins
Coral reefs are like underwater gardens, but who would have thought you can garden them in just the same way? Austin Bowden-Kerby is a coral gardener. He has brought together his love of gardening, and passion for the underwater world, to do something very special that just might save the coral reefs of Fiji. Directed by Emma Robens.
Landscapes at the World's Ends, New Zealand, Richard Sidey, 15 mins
A non-verbal, visual journey to the polar regions of our planet portrayed through a triptych montage of photography and video. This piece is a multi-dimensional canvas of imagery recorded either above the Arctic Circle or below the Antarctic Convergence.
Eating the Ocean, USA, Jennifer Galvin, 21 mins
NarratedbyCelineCousteau,this film isajourneytotheheartof Oceaniawhereaninternationalteamofresearchersstudiestherapidlychanging dietofFrenchPolynesians.Throughthescientists'investigationandbyspending timewithfamilies,fishermenandschoolchildrenwediscoverapublichealthcrisis brought on by western influences.
Birdathlon, USA, Rachel Price and Karen Lewis, 4 mins
Who will win a race that involves both air and sea? Find out when our intrepid Rhinoceros Auklet is pitted against an Arctic Tern in an Olympic-caliber spoof that demonstrates the unique physiology and biology of the Alcid species.
Team Clark Goes Canoeing: Valdez to Whittier, USA, Dan Clark, 9 mins
Simply mesmerizing. This is the story of six weeks solitude and simplicity, the rewards of submersing children in the wilderness, and the challenges that make it memorable. A dream trip for many of us, no doubt, but does that dream include diaper swap outs at the re-supply? You're not gonna believe this one!
The Majestic Plastic Bag, USA, 4 mins.
A brilliant mockumentary about the miraculous migration of "The Majestic Plastic Bag" narrated by Jeremy Irons. It was produced by Heal The Bay as promo in support of California bill AB 1998 to help put an end to plastic pollution.
As Junior Girl Scout Troop 4140 continues to press on with the Get Moving Energy Journey, the scouts learn the value of good insulation in homes and buildings. The troop had the opportunity to see four different types of common insulation and test their knowledge of R Value. The results surprised the girls as they learned appearance does not always reveal which insulation will be most energy efficient.
After examining insulation in buildings, they focused on every day types of insulation such as wool, aluminum foil, cotton, and plastic. Following their predictions on which material would be the most energy efficient, the scouts took turns taking the temperature of the water inside the experiment jars. As most scouts predicted, the wool worked best followed by the aluminum foil - it turns out these girls can't be fooled by appearances anymore.
The skills the girls learned in this activity are just a fractional of the material in the overall journey that will teach them how to live more energy efficient lives. This Friday, troop 4140 will go on a tour of their school, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, led by a member of the maintenance staff to learn the ins and outs of the energy in the building. Proceeding the tour, the girls will make a list of recommendations to the school board regarding potential upgrades that could make the school more energy efficient based on the things they have learned during the journey.
Months have passed withhydroelectric shortageand the City of Sitka Electric Department has warned the community that the risk of having to use supplemental diesel fuel to run the town's functions is high. In order to let this message sink in a bit further, Utility Director, Christopher Brewton, made this graphic meant to encourage electric users to switch to oil by using a visual that most people can relate to.
This simple graphic shows electric users that using an oil heater is over 2X as efficient as gaining electricity through the extremely inefficient diesel generators.Brewton hoped to encourage those with duel heating systems to switch since the diesel surcharge will add to every electric user's monthly bill.
In 2011, Sitka's hydroelectric capacity was at the lowest in the last 30 years. The combination of a lower supply due to less rain and a high demand for electric heating forced the City and Borough of Sitka to use hundreds of thousands of gallons for diesel fuel last year alone to supplement the town's electric need.
On January 17, 2012 electric customers pushed our hydroelectricity to the max, setting a new peak load record for the town. At 6:00pm electric customers used 24MW of electricity to set a new hydroelectric record for Sitka. According to the Electric Department, 'this is 5 MW, or 26% greater, than the 19 MW electrical peak hit in 2005."
Although recent increased rainfall decreases the likelihood that hydroelectricity will run out before spring weather melts the snows, the City Utility Director, Chris Brewton, still encourages residents to conserve electric energy.
Home weatherization and upgrading appliances are examples of ways to make big changes in your home's overall energy efficiency. However, there are many free ways to conserve electricity for those who want to do their part to reduce Sitka's dependance on the backup diesel generators, but don't have the money for home weatherization.
Take Action: 10 Free Ways to Save ElectricityTip 1: Air dry your dishes instead of using the drying cycle of your washing machine. If you do a load of dishes before bed, they will be dry in the morning.
Tip 2: Turn off your monitor computer when not in use. Desktop computers use significantly more energy than laptops. However, you can reduce your desktop's electric load by simply pressing a button after each use.
Tip 3: Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater and dishwasher to 120 degrees F. At this temperature, you water is still hot and your dishes clean, yet you cut down each appliance's electric consumption.
Tip 4: Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months. This simple act removes sediment that impedes heat transfer and increases overall efficiency. In fact, this can increase your water heater's efficiency by 30%!
Tip 5: Wash your clothes on the cold/cold cycle of your washing machine. Enjoy clean clothes and know that you saved over 90% of the energy you normally use since heating the water accounts for most of energy expended to wash clothes.
Tip 6: Set your refrigerator to 37-40 degrees F and your freezer to 5 degrees F (0 degrees F for long-term storage). Appliances like refrigerators run constantly and suck up energy throughout the day. Therefore, if you raise the overall temperature by just a few degrees your refrigerator will use less energy while still keeping your food fresh.
Tip 7: Remove lint from your dryer filter after each use. A fresh filter for each load will improve air circulation to make your clothes dry faster and increase your dryer's overall efficiency.
Tip 8: Use toaster ovens to bake smaller meals instead of using your stove/oven. Toaster ovens heat up more quickly and require less energy to bake small meals.
Tip 9: Keep window shades on the south side of your house open. Natural heat and light will decrease your heating system's workload. This is especially valuable since home heating is the #1 contributor to your monthly energy bill.
Tip 10: Turn off your kitchen and bath fans within 20 minutes after use. This window allows ample time to ventilate the room but does not waste unneeded energy.
The first step towards achieving energy awareness begins in the schools. In 2011, the Sitka Conservation Society launched an energy education program called Energize to Educate. The program consists of five comprehensive lessons spread across the school year and make students more aware of the role of energy in the world today. The lessons cover Sitka's energy situation and conservation, fossil fuels in Alaska, home weatherization, home and building energy audits, and a tour of the Blue and Green Lake Dam that produce the town's hydroelectricity.
The first lesson on hydroelectricity already reached one third and fourth grade class, as well as every sixth grade class. In December, one fourth grade class completed the second lesson on fossil fuels in Alaska and so did the entire seventh grade. Over 270 students received a portion of the energy curriculum by the first semester.
Despite the program's initial success, additional program support to the school board is needed to ensure that all lessons are available to students since it is not yet part of the school's guaranteed curriculum. However, several teachers at Keet Goohsi Heen Elementary and Blatchley Middle School expressed interest in completing the program in the next semester of the school year.
Small changes to a drafty or poorly insulated house can result in a significant drop in winter heating for a Sitka homeowner, not mention reduce the burden on the hydroelectric demand which is currently running at capacity. With this in mind, the Sitka Conservation Society and the Southeast Alaska Career Center partnered to bring residents five days of weatherization workshops led by Jim Ward, Board President, from the Alaska Craftsman Home Program in November 2011.
The first three days of workshops were geared towards construction trade professionals. Topics included Building Energy Efficiency Standards and Advanced Cold Climate Building. Each participant attended full day classes and had the opportunity to update or attain the Residential Endorsement Certificate. The professional workshops also offered partial education requirements for state licensing. Of the participants who took the exam, 100 percent passed.
Following the workshops for professionals, ACHP offered shorter do-it-yourself weatherization workshops geared for homeowners. Topics in these eight workshops included energy efficient insulation, windows and doors, ventilation, and lighting and appliances. Participants were able to pick two hour sessions with a licensed professional.
Over 175 participants ranging from homeowners to local contractors, to home auditors, city staff and more attended the workshops. The workshop facilitator was impressed by the turnout and arranged to return to Sitka with more weatherization workshops in 2012. The set days for the workshops are March 3-7. Information on specific session information and times will be updated in the future.