Alaska T3 Students Conduct Energy Audit during Cordova Iceworm Festival

Alaska T3 Students Conduct Energy Audit during Cordova Iceworm Festival

A group of Alaska students have demonstrated their knowledge of energy concepts by conducting an energy audit on a historic lodge in Cordova, Alaska, leading to potential cost savings for its owner.

In early February, seven middle and senior high school students from Bethel, Sitka, Seward and Wrangell flew to Cordova for the latest T3 Alliance 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 to an energy audit of Orca Adventure Lodge, with impressive results.

While originally intending to attend 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 1880s,” said Grace Farnham, a UAF Makerspace fellow who helped to coordinate the event. “The students engaged their design thinking skills to help Ranney improve the energy efficiency of his heating system.”

Students first reviewed energy concepts, including energy efficiency, thermal energy, insulation, and technologies such as infrared cameras and heat pumps. They then split into three groups. One group used thermal cameras to take images detailing areas where heat was escaping from lodge buildings. Another group used math to investigate Ranney’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.

The students presented their results to an audience that included Steve and Kris Ranney, T3 staff, Alaska Blue Economy Center’s 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 the lodge’s current diesel-powered radiant heating system to electric heat pumps could save Ranney tens of thousands of dollars each year!

Students also tested household appliances with electricity usage monitors to find inefficient devices at their schools and homes. Student members of the T3 Energy Club will continue their work with ACEP’s George Reising throughout the spring semester.

For more information about the UAF T3 program, please contact Grace Farnham at


T3 students presented their energy audit results. Photo by Adam Low.