ANCHORAGE - The federal government will provide $175,000 for design of a center that will do research on home construction in cold climates.
The $2 million center is being developed by a nonprofit corporation formed by the Alaska State Home Builders Association. It will be at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The center is expected to be completed by spring 2004.
The funds announced Tuesday come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"We are going to have an area that can be used by the Institute of Northern Engineers for structural testing and seismic testing," said Jack Hebert, who is heading up the project. "We are also going to have an environmental lab that will simulate different conditions so we can test materials and how they behave."
Hebert said that could be attractive for industry looking to test building materials. Unlike other such labs, a facility in Fairbanks can provide controlled laboratory cold-weather testing and field testing, he said.
"If there is anywhere that materials should be tested in the cold it is in Fairbanks," he said.
The facility will also be able to test mechanical systems such as heating and air-handling systems, as well as water and wastewater systems and energy-generation systems, Hebert said.
"There is a lot of interest nationally and internationally in this center," he said. "I think the real point we want to get across is the research this center does needs to be practical, usable research that can be applied to the housing industry in Alaska that will directly affect people and their quality of life. We don't want to be another research facility that does research that is never seen or used."