Improving Culturally Sensitive Energy Strategies in the Arctic Residential Buildings with the Co-Production of Knowledge Framework
Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) is one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas. NNA projects address convergence scientific challenges in the rapidly changing Arctic. This Arctic research is needed to inform the economy, security and resilience of the Nation, the larger region, and the globe. NNA empowers new research partnerships from local to international scales, diversifies the next generation of Arctic researchers, enhances efforts in formal and informal education, and integrates the co-production of knowledge where appropriate. This award fulfills part of that aim by addressing interactions among social systems and built environments in the following NNA focus areas: Arctic Residents and Resilient Infrastructure.
The climate in much of the Arctic is characterized by long cold winters and short cool summers. Global climate change is shifting the Arctic climate by raising temperatures and melting snow and ice at an increasing rate. These changes are causing unique challenges to the sustainable operation of residential buildings in Alaska Native communities as these buildings are often energy inefficient due to inadequate insulation, thermal bridges, and air leakage. In addition to inadequate building conditions, energy and electricity prices in Alaska are often higher than the average prices in the lower 48 States, thereby causing additional challenges to Alaska Native communities. The overarching goal of this NNA Incubator project is to explore the design, development, and implementation of a co-production of knowledge framework to improve residential building energy efficiency in Arctic regions in collaboration with partners and stakeholders from two Indigenous communities from the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. To advance this goal, the project research team proposes to investigate the relationships between socio-cultural factors, building design/construction strategies, building energy efficiency, and climate in residential buildings from the target Alaska Bristol Bay region of study. The successful completion of this project will benefit society through the development and implementation of a co-production of knowledge framework that could be used to identify and design solutions to improve residential building energy efficiency in Arctic regions. Additional benefits to society will be achieved through student education and training including the mentoring of one graduate student at Iowa State University.
To design and develop solutions for improving the energy efficiency of residential buildings of Indigenous communities in Alaska, it is critical to engage these communities and relevant stakeholders from the beginning of the research within a co-production of knowledge framework. In this NNA Incubator project, the Principal Investigators (PIs) propose to engage with two Indigenous communities and stakeholders in the Alaska Bristol Bay region with the goal of building reciprocal and trustful relationships to advance the design and implementation of a co-production of knowledge framework to improve residential building energy efficiency in Arctic regions. The specific objectives of the proposed research are to (1) investigate in what ways socio-cultural components impact housing construction and energy usage in Alaska Indigenous communities; (2) evaluate how socio-cultural components and climate affect residential building construction, and assess the main barriers to energy efficient residential building construction; (3) assess how socio-cultural components and climate affect residential building design and energy use patterns, and extract critical factors for energy analysis, and (4) understand and predict how future climate change in Alaska might affect energy usage in residential buildings using modeling and simulations. By integrating targeted need assessment studies, workshops, and the results of modeling and simulation studies, the project research team hopes to identify critical energy-usage-related features in Arctic residential buildings associated with the unique cultural background and heritage of Alaska Indigenous communities.