Sitka Conservation Society
Apr 20 2012

Weatherization 101 at Blatchley Middle School

Students in 6th grade learned about various ways to weatherize their homes. One of the topics in this lesson discussed the importance of proper ventilation.

Energy education classes in Blatchley Middle School are back by popular demand. Sixth grade social studies teacher, Tom Henshaw, welcomed a lesson on hydroelectricity and Sitka’s energy thresholds last semester and was so pleased with it, he requested another lesson focusing on energy this semester.

The lesson that all 115 students received was Weatherization 101. In this lesson, students learned a variety of ways to weatherize their homes for projects both small and large. Some of the weatherization projects examined were as simple as upgrading to energy efficient lighting. In this portion, students participated in class discussions that gave them an in-depth look at the difference between incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs. One of the more tedious and costly weatherization upgrades the students learned about was adding and identifying energy efficient insulation. Students were briefed on the four main types of insulation and given pros and cons for each. After analyzing the various insulation types, students broke off into groups and used their knowledge of insulation to rank four different samples of insulation from least to most efficient. Many of the groups were able to properly rank the insulation.

A group of students ponder which insulation is most energy efficient during a brainstorming session.

By the end of the lesson, students were aware of several ways to weatherize their homes and were encouraged to try some of the methods discussed in class with their families. Despite packed schedules at the end of this school year, several other teachers made it a priority to make Weatherization 101 available to their classes as well. One third grade class was taught this lesson last week and  a fourth grade class is scheduled to receive it in the beginning of May.

As a conclusion to the energy education these classes have received over the course of this year, each of the classes plans to take a field trip in May to experience Sitka’s energy first-hand. With the help and support of the Electric Department, the students will be able to tour the diesel generators the town uses when hydroelectricity alone cannot support electric needs. The tour will be led my engineer, Andy Eggen, and show students just how much diesel fuel is needed to run the diesel generators. When in full swing, the diesel generation plant uses eight truckloads of fuel in a single day! The students will also get a tour of the Blue Lake Powerhouse led by Senior Operator, Frank Rogers. During this part of the tour, students will look at how the City controls the hydroelectricity produced by the dams and will allow them to see the infrastructure that allows Sitka to have this renewable energy. By the end of this year, the hope is that some of Sitka’s youth will have the knowledge necessary to make wise choices regarding energy conservation and lead their generation towards an energy independent Sitka.

Apr 04 2012

Girl Scout Troop #4140 Presents: Earth Hour

Junior Girl Scout troop #4140 member, Autumn Dismore, persuades the audience to push for conservation efforts that make for a more energy independent Sitka (Photo provided, James Poulson, Daily Sitka Sentinel staff).

Saturday, March 31st was a day to remember for the girls in troop #4140. In order to earn the final award in the Get Moving Journey, the Innovate Award, the troop had planned an event that would allow them to showcase everything they learned about energy over the last seven months. The troop decided to combine the presentation of their work with an existing event promoted by Girl Scouts: Earth Hour.

Through the Forever Greencampaign, Girl Scouts hopes to bring communities together across a global effort to improve the environment and protect natural resources. As part of this broad mission, Girl Scouts designated March 31st as Earth Hour; an hour on this day in which everyone is asked to show their support of energy conservation by encouraging sustainable behavior change, reducing CO2 footprint, and saving energy by turning off every light in the building. The girls in troop #4140 felt that this existing event’s mission fit in well with their conclusions of the energy journey. The scouts made Earth Hour open to the entire community and held it at their school, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary. They also invited participants to support energy awareness by attending this event, lit entirely by candlelight.

Troop #4140 laughes as they watch the presentation of the weatherization video they filmed, Caulking Cracks.

In order to get as many Girl Scouts involved at Earth Hour as possible, troop #4140 also invited every scout in Sitka to the event with the option to share how they have become more energy efficient this year. Several troops showcased their energy efficiency improvements, including a troop that turned old t shirts into reusable grocery bags. Junior troop #4140 gave those in attendance an in-depth look at exactly what they did to complete the journey. Some of the activities they did during the journey include learning about renewable energy and fossil fuels, doing informal energy audits at home, taking an energy tour of their school, and writing a letter of suggested weatherization improvements to the school board based on their findings. In fact, the girls were so inspired by energy conservation, they decided to record weatherization videos as an additional project outside of the journey. In these videos, the troop showed how to properly caulk windows and doors as well as how to make the lighting in your home energy efficient.  The troop finished the presentation of the journey by informing community members that they want to see energy education for youth and energy efficiency in school and other public buildings. They even encouraged attendees to try their hand in a little home weatherization saying, “if we can do it, so can you!”

Romy Bekeris smiles as she accepts her certificate of completion for the Get Moving Journey.

The support the Girl Scouts received at this event from both a community and statewide level was truly astounding. Over 75 community members and 27 Girl Scouts joined the event to show their support for Earth Hour and the troop’s mission to promote energy awareness. Of the participants, two community members acted as guest speakers giving the audience a more broad perspective of energy conservation in Sitka. Utility Director, Chris Brewton, was present at the event to give a special thanks to the girls for their conservation efforts which decrease Sitka’s dependence of diesel fuel. Sitka School District Board Member, Tim Fulton, also spoke at the event on energy use in the schools. In addition, he thanked the girls for the weatherization recommendations to the board and discussed the board’s tentative energy audit of Keet Gooshi Heen as a response. Melissa Edwards, Girl Scout Southern Tongass  Membership and Program Specialist who collaborated with SCS on the “Green Girls Grow” event, also congratulated the girls in troop #4140 for their achievement. Just last week, Senator Stedman himself sent a letter of recognition to the troop for their work and gave them each a forget-me-not pin, the Alaska state flower, to show his appreciation of their efforts to become more energy efficient. It is easy to see through the broad array of those who recognized the girls, that the impact of their work is of great importance to a sustainable future.


Mar 29 2012

Weatherization 101: Caulking with Troop 4140

Girl Scout Troop 4140 has been learning all about energy during their Get Moving Energy Journey project as they work towards completing the requirements for their badge.  Part of their project was to share what they learn with the community.  In this video, join Girl Scouts from troop 4140 as they demonstrate the proper techniques for chalking your home.

Weatherization 101: Caulking from Sitka Conservation Society on Vimeo.

Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 27 2012

Weatherization 101: Choosing the Right Type of Caulking for SE Alaska

The videos this week will deal with caulking.  Making sure that windows, doors, and seams are caulked and sealed will help save energy and money on home heating.  This video will teach how to choose the right type of caulk.

Weatherization 101: Choosing Caulk from Sitka Conservation Society on Vimeo.

Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 22 2012

Weatherization 101: Lightbulbs

Girl Scout Troop 4140 has been learning all about energy during their Get Moving Journey, which focuses on energy. The journey consists of three prestigious Girl Scout awards, each containing several projects within itself. In addition to the regular Journey requirements, Junior troop 4140 took an additional task of recording weatherization videos to promote energy efficiency.  Join Girl Scouts from troop 4140 in this video to learn about light(two word)bulbs and how to choose more efficient lighting..

Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 21 2012

The Future of Energy In Sitka

The Sitka Conservation Society released a report  today on the Future of Energy in Sitka that calculates how much energy Sitka uses in a year, how much energy will be needed to sustain the community over the next 20 years, and how much money will be spent on oil if there is not an investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.  The Sitka Conservation Society has worked in Sitka for 45 years to protect the natural environment of the Tongass and support the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska.  This study is part of the Sitka Conservation Society’s sustainable communities program which seeks to power Sitka on renewable energy, implement thorough energy efficiency actions, and reduce Sitka’s carbon footprint.

Andrew Thoms, Executive Director of the Sitka Conservation Society, explains the rationale behind the study, “We did this study because we wanted to figure out how we could completely reverse our current energy mix in Sitka.  Right now, Sitka runs on oil:  75% of our energy comes from non-renewable energy sources while 25% comes from renewable energy.  We want to figure out if it is possible to completely reverse that within 20 years.  We know that oil prices are increasing because of reduced supply and increased demand.  We also know that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.  There is an urgent need to shift to renewable energy.”

For SCS board member Lexi Fish, the impetus to do this study is all about the future of the community.  “The 20 year projection gives us an idea of what the next generation of Sitkans will be dealing with. If a child is born today in Sitka, in 20 years they will be soon considering where to start their careers and family life. Will we have enough energy to sustain our community and economy? Will we have taken continual action to prevent the destructive impacts of climate change? This project gives us an idea of where to start now, so that our future generations will have a solid ground to stand on in Sitka’s community, environment and economy.”

The study found that Sitka, with a population of 8,881, currently uses approximately 1,585 Billion Btus of energy per year which is the equivalent of almost 275,000 barrels of oil or 465,000 Megawatt/hours of electricity.  According to Scott Brylinski, former City of Sitka Public Works Operations Manager and the principal investigator of this report, “Sitka will spend between $1B and $1.5B on oil over the next 20 years.  By making investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects now, we can avoid much of those costs and keep dollars flowing within the local economy rather than leaking out of the community through purchase of oil.”

Garry White, director of the Sitka Economic Development Association, and member of the Southeast Conference, adds, “Having a viable energy supply is key to economic development and overall quality of life for Sitka.  The recently released Southeast Alaska Integrated Resource Management Plan provides some direction and potential paths.  Sitka has the opportunity to take information from both reports and shape the direction that works best for our community and our energy future.”

SCS’s report sought to find solutions that took advantage of local opportunities and proven technology with successfully demonstrated commercial applications.  Local business owner Gary Smith, who was interviewed in this study, comments that, “There is no silver bullet solution for meeting our energy needs.  It will take multiple initiatives and technologies working together.  This presents a huge opportunity for us to create local jobs and a local workforce installing and maintaining energy efficient technology like heat pumps.”

“Because of the scale and scope of the issue of energy, informed public and private sector investment is needed to ensure a viable energy supply for SE Alaska communities.  The State of Alaska legislature is currently working on legislation related to energy that includes oil tax structures, energy efficiency rebates and weatherization, emerging energy technology research, and renewable energy funds.  As can be seen from this report, it is critical that the legislature makes the right decisions on these issues because energy is a critical element for the sustainability of  Alaska communities and we know that our oil supplies are running out and we need to think beyond oil,” comments Andrew Thoms.

The full report outlines a range of scenarios for Sitka’s energy mix over the next twenty years and recommendations on actions that should be taken to ensure a viable energy supply.

The report can downloaded: here

To look at a timeline of the Sitka Conservation Society’s work on Climate Change and Renewable Energy, click: here

Mar 20 2012

Weatherization 101: Hot Water Heater

The second biggest user of energy in your home is the hot water heater.  Adjusting your hot water heater to the correct temperature can save a great deal of energy in your home.  In this video, local contractor Marcel Laperierre shows us how to adjust the hot water heater temperature for energy savings.


Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 20 2012

Energy Conservation Brochures

In 2007, the Sitka Conservation Society began a fruitful partnership with the City of Sitka Electric Department to initiate action on climate change in Sitka and to begin taking steps to become more energy efficient.  The start of the partnership was a joint position that worked in the electric department to find ways for Sitkans to save energy and reduce their energy bills.  One of the many outputs of the work was a series of educational brochures for Sitkans  Below is how we introduced the results of this work to Alaska Senator Bert Stedman:

December 10th, 2007

Dear Senator Stedman,

 We are pleased to announce the release of our series of brochures on energy conservation inSitka.  These brochures are the end result of an ongoing collaborative project with the City and Borough of Sitka to identify, evaluate, and implement energy conservation measures that reduce energy demand inSitka, reduce energy costs forSitkaresidents, and reduceSitka’s environmental footprint on a local and global scale.

 This project began in late 2006 when the Sitka Electric Department released a 28 year electric energy provision plan that identified an increase in demand for electricity that has the potential to outstrip total available electric supply.  The high cost and potential environmental impact of new hydroelectric facilities alarmed our membership.  However, a provision in the City’s plan identified energy conservation as part of a solution to reducing energy demand.  The Sitka Conservation Society identified this section as a potential niche where we may be able to aid the city in developing energy conservation initiatives.

 To help develop the energy conservation initiatives, we applied for a grant to pay for an intern with experience in energy policy and analysis that would work at the electric department with the electric department employees to identify possible energy conservation actions.  After an extensive recruiting process at top Universities across the country, Amy Heinemann was chosen from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for the internship.  Part of the needs she identified during her work inSitkawas public education on energy conservation possibilities and specific choices the energy consumer can make that will achieve results.  These brochures were the results of some of her work.

 This project is part of a continuing effort by the Sitka Conservation Society to offer “solutions” to the community that not only benefit our surrounding natural environment but also provide tangible and needed benefits to our community. 

 Please let us know if you would like more information on this work or any of our other initiatives or if you would like more copies of the brochures.

Download the brochures below:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Energy Audits and Weatherization

Electronics and Appliances

Personal Transportation

Space Heating

Water Heating




Mar 06 2012

Green Girls Grow: Energy Education Event for Girl Scouts Across Southeast

The Girl Scouts in Ketchikan had the opportunity to learn about energy efficiency first-hand with the help of an engineer from Ketchikan Public Utility (KPU).

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!

Petersburg Girl Scouts demonstrate the efficiency of the wind energy with their very own rocket pinwheel.

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.

Greg Reynolds shows Sitka Girl Scouts the condensation that built up in wall insulation.

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.”

Feb 27 2012

Girl Scouts Tour Keet Gooshi Heen’s Energy System

The Girl Scouts of troop #4140 pose with Bill Steinbaugh, Sitka School District Maintenance Supervisor, in the attic of Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

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.

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Keep up to date on all of the issues. Check out "The Southeaster" Blog.

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