Alaska Office, © Defenders of Wildlife

Sunny Days in Alaska

Karla Dutton, Alaska Program Director

It has been a while since we moved Defenders’ Alaska office a block away to The Solar Building at 441 West 5th Avenue, Anchorage. The 1957 art deco building is aptly named for the recent installation of a full wall of 64 solar energy panels that make this one of only a few commercial buildings in Alaska powered in part by renewable energy, and the largest project for a commercial building in Anchorage. The panels are expected to supply 11,651 kilowatts per year — five to 10 percent of the five-story building’s electricity needs, said Marvin Kuentzel of Renewable Energy Systems, the Anchorage business that ordered the panels and installed them. Anchorage businessman and building owner Steve Zelener is pleased with the results and continues to remodel the building’s interior. In fact, he’s planning to install a ticker device so tenants and visitors can see how much energy the solar panels are generating.

The dark blue squares on the left side of the building are the solar panels.

The dark blue squares on the left side of the building are the solar panels.

Claire Colegrove, our Alaska Representative, and I really like our new office. It is bright, sunny and has high-efficiency lighting and heating – a huge improvement over our previous office space. Since Alaska and the Arctic are ground zero for climate change, we believe it is important to work in a building that uses energy sources with reduced emissions, which helps to fight the shifts in climate that are affecting our wildlife and environment.

Other conservation-minded tenants share space in the building, and the owner hopes that these energy-saving retrofits will encourage still other progressive companies to lease space in the Solar Building.

This past weekend, our building was featured in the Anchorage Solar Tour, sponsored by American Solar Energy Society, ACAT, REAP, ACE as the Solar Building at 441 W. 5th Avenue in 2012.