Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Fort Yukon Greenhouse Project

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Fort Yukon, Alaska

Federal Funding: $287,876
Project Timeline: July 2010 – September 2014

Project Summary

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help residents save on food expenses, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), an intertribal consortium in a rural, roadless area of Alaska has undertaken the use of crops for community consumption in an energy-efficient greenhouse warmed by recovered waste heat.

TCC constructed an energy-efficient greenhouse with the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government (GZG) in Fort Yukon, AK, which, when final (with other funding) will recover heat from the city’s diesel-fired power plant, extending the growing season. Eventually, the community plans to also integrate a wood-fired heating system to reduce diesel consumption, further reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. TCC is coordinating closely with the Alaska Energy Authority to ensure that the new power plant in Fort Yukon is optimized for maximum heat recovery to be able to adequately supply several community buildings as well as the greenhouse.

Land for the greenhouse was purchased by GZG and TCC identified greenhouse equipment and supplies to procure, and developed the final design of the greenhouse. At the end of the Climate Showcase Communities grant period, the building had been sealed, all foundation and heat storage work had been completed and the greenhouse outer shell was up. The project is nearly done, but in FY15 TCC is working to find additional funding to get the project finalized and operational. The final component is an engineering assessment of the heat recovery system to improve the performance of the overall system, as the Alaska Energy Authority has determined that upgrades could save over 50,000 gallons of diesel annually.

The project will help reduce the need to import processed food via air, thus reducing the associated GHG emissions. In addition, it will help combat the very high food costs in the community. Produce from the greenhouse will be sold at two local stores and will be made available to the local school and assisted living facility at wholesale rates.

The project will also teach local students about food miles, local economies, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture. Gardening workshops will be held for all interested citizens.

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Community Characteristics 

Population                                  583

Area                                          7 square miles

Government Type:                      Intertribal Consortium

Community Type:                        Rural

Median household income:           $30,500

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Final Results

Projected Cumulative Results

Annual GHG Reductions

766.9 mt CO2e

2 mt CO2e

Annual Food Production

4,000 pounds of produce

10,000 pounds of produce

Annual Transportation Fuel Reductions

89.6 gallons

224 gallons

Jobs Created



Annual Renewable Energy Generated

3.5 MWh


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Lessons Learned

  • The phasing of the project (completing the project over multiple summers) resulted in cost overruns due to mobilization and demobilization costs. At the start of the project, communities should expect that there may be significant budget modifications and build a buffer into the estimate.
  • Inaccurate information provided to the community of Fort Yukon resulted in the project being accepted in a community that was not aware of the economic commitment that the original project entailed. Communities may want to enlist additional outside resources to review the feasibility of the project and communicate this to stakeholders in the community.
  • Ensure that staff are available to commit to the project for the duration.
  • Prior to starting the project, find partner organizations to share both risk and reward. Partnering with other organizations will also bring their institutional knowledge in to the project.

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Sustainability/ Replication

  • When scoping a similar project, contact TCC to discuss the resources required to develop the project.

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Program Website

Tanana Chiefs Conference Energy Report 2014 Exit

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