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T3 Alaska Program
T3 partner ACEP hosts students tour of Cordova energy lab.

Cordova – Orca Adventure Lodge

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Seven students from Bethel, Sitka, Seward, and Wrangell flew into Cordova, Alaska for the latest Teaching Through Technology (T3) event. Joined by three new T3 members from Cordova, the students explored the town, toured the Cordova Electric Cooperative diesel plant, and celebrated the annual Iceworm Festival. Principally, the students applied their knowledge of energy to an energy audit of Orca Adventure Lodge, with impressive results.

Originally intended to be a leadership conference, T3 students and staff quickly adapted to conflicting schedules and turned the weekend into a unique opportunity for community engagement. Steve Ranney, a leader in the Cordova community, requested our help doing an energy audit at the Orca Adventure Lodge, which was built as a salmon cannery in the 1880’s. The students engaged their design thinking skills to help Steve improve the energy efficiency of his heating system.

After a review of energy concepts including energy efficiency, thermal energy, insulation, and technologies such as infrared cameras and heat pumps, students split into three groups to focus on different aspects of the project. One group took thermal cameras and took images detailing areas where heat was escaping from lodge buildings. Another group investigated the math of Steve’s heating costs to see if installing a heat pump would be worth it. The final group was in charge of storytelling for the weekend.

On Sunday, the students presented their results to an audience that included Steve and Kris Ranney, T3 staff, ABEC Associate Director Tommy Sheridan, Cordova High School teacher and T3 coach Krysta Williams, and other community members. They shared their storytelling video, a detailed 3D model of the entire lodge, and a series of thermal camera images that located multiple sources of heat loss. Perhaps most impressively, they calculated that converting from Steve’s current diesel powered radiant heating system to electric heat pumps could save Steve tens of thousands of dollars each year!

Students returned home inspired and ready to continue and expand their work. For starters, they shared their weekend findings in this video and slidedeck, with their peers and community. Students also took Kill-a-watt meters, devices that measure electrical energy usage, to find electrical inefficiency at school and at home. Additionally, some of the students are members of the T3 Energy Club and will continue their work with Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) liason George Reising throughout the spring semester.

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