Coconino County Sustainable Building Program
Monthly Newsletter 

November, 2016

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In This Issue...   
 Heating with Wood

Photo by Thomas' Pics/ CC BY-NC 2.0
Heating with wood can make sense both economically and environmentally. Firewood can be acquired inexpensively with a permit in the Coconino National Forest and with the investment of time and labor, offset the cost and reduce the environmental impacts of heating your home with fossil fuels. Our local Ponderosa Pine forests have been undergoing thinning projects with the goal of reducing fuel levels and thus forest fire severity. Collection and use of downed trees assists in this process. Also, using firewood to heat your home has health benefits. The cutting, splitting and stacking of wood is good exercise! A person burns between 325 to 500 calories in an hour of cutting, splitting and stacking wood.

This newsletter will focus on important considerations when heating with wood: stove emissions, health issues, effects on indoor and outdoor air quality, efficiency, safety and invasive pests. 
Consider Installing an EPA-certified Wood or Pellet Stove
If you currently are burning wood in a woodstove or fireplace that pre-dates 1995, consider installing a new EPA-certified wood or pellet stove. Not only do EPA-certified wood-burning appliances use up to one third less wood for the same amount of heat as their older counterparts, the improved combustion process results in fewer chemicals and particulate pollutants being emitted from the vent stack. This will improve outdoor air quality, making you a better neighbor. Plus there is a $500 tax rebate available in the State of Arizona for doing this! See the information below. Installing a new woodstove or replacing an old one does require a permit in the City of Flagstaff and Coconino County.
Health Effects of Wood Smoke
Smoke from wood burning can be a significant health hazard. It contains many chemical compounds that are harmful and potentially carcinogenic. One of the most detrimental components of wood smoke is small particulate matter (PM), in particular those particulates smaller than 10 microns (PM10). These particles can move far into the lungs, into the tiny air sacs called alveoli, where oxygen enters the blood. This can cause permanent lung damage and worsen conditions such as asthma, emphysema and
bronchitis. Studies show that people who heat their homes with wood have more respiratory problems than those who don’t. The elderly, children and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to the health impacts of smoke. See below to learn about ways to mitigate negative health impacts of smoke from wood burning.
Indoor Air Quality and Burning Efficiency
When a woodstove or other wood heater is installed, maintained and used properly, the effects on indoor air quality should be minimal. One of the requirements for the proper functioning and efficiency of a wood-burning appliance is adequate combustion air. Combustion air can come from the indoor space or from outside. The International Residential Code now requires that wood burning heaters be supplied with an exterior air supply unless the room is mechanically ventilated in a way that maintains neutral or positive air pressure in the room. External air supply is particularly important in homes that are well-sealed and have little air infiltration. Learn more about external air supply here.

Other tips for improving indoor air quality and efficiency are:
  1. Make sure the wood or pellet stove is properly installed. Consider having the stove installed by a certified installer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for flue size and connections. Stovepipes should be straight and connections tight.
  2. Burn only dry wood (maximum of 20% moisture content). Wood should be seasoned for at least 6 months before burning.
  3. Burn in cycles. Hot fires are more efficient and produce less smoke.
  4. Have your chimney and stove cleaned and checked every year. Replace worn gaskets.
  5. Keep the doors to your wood-burning heater closed unless loading or stoking a fire to prevent chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, from escaping.
  6. Store pellets for pellet stoves outside. They give off carbon monoxide gas, which is poisonous.  See EPA's Carbon Monoxide's Impact on Indoor Air Quality for more information on carbon monoxide.
For more tips, see's A Huge List of Proven Tips
Outdoor Air Quality- 
Wood smoke becomes a more pressing air quality issue in Northern Arizona in the winter when a temperature inversion occurs. This generally happens overnight or in the early morning when cool air sinks to the bottom of a valley and is trapped by a warmer layer of air above. The warmer layer also traps the smoke from wood burning near the land surface. Under these conditions, particulate matter levels in the ambient air can rise. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality maintains a monitoring network for PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns) in Flagstaff, Sedona and other communities in Northern Arizona. You can access the network website and click on 
the city you want information for to get a graph showing the Air Quality Index for a given time period. ADEQ suggests that if outdoor smoke is affecting you and your family, you reduce your physical activity, stay indoors as much as possible, use an alternative source of heat or temporarily relocate. Checking this Index before you burn, and not burning during times of poor air quality, can ensure you don't contribute to the problem.
Photo by Bo Insogna/ CC BY-NC 2.0
New Wood Stove Emissions Standard 

EPA's  2015 New Source Performance Standard set allowable levels of particulate matter (PM) emissions for residential wood and pellet stoves as well as other heaters. This standard stipulates that all new wood burning appliances built after 2015 must meet or be less than the emission limit of 4.5 grams per hour (g/h) of particulates and that by 2020 new wood and wood pellet stoves meet the limit of 2.0 grams per hour of particulate matter. It does not prohibit use of existing wood stoves that do not meet this criteria. Currently there are both catalytic stoves and non-catalytic stoves that meet the requirements.

Until 2020, EPA offers voluntary hangtags for stoves that meet the 2020 requirement. These tags show stove efficiency, particulate emissions and heating area. In order to qualify for the tag or be certified by EPA, the stove must be tested by an EPA-accredited lab. EPA maintains a list of EPA-approved 2020 Voluntary Hangtags, but so far there are only four on the list. The list of EPA-certified wood stoves, those meeting the 2015 requirement of 4.5 g/h, shows the emission levels as well as efficiency (for some models) and is a more comprehensive resource.
Tax Deduction for Fireplace Conversion
Per Arizona Revised Statute 43-1027, Arizona taxpayers can deduct the cost of converting an existing wood fireplace to a qualifying wood stove, qualifying wood fireplace or qualifying gas-fired fireplace from their state taxes. The cost to purchase and install all necessary equipment is tax deductible up to $500. Qualifying wood stoves and fireplaces must meet the standards of performance for new residential
wood heaters pursuant to 40 Code of Federal Regulations part 60, subpart AAA. Look for EPA-certified or EPA qualified models. EPA-approved models are required to have a permanent tag identifying them (generally at the back). Check out EPA's guide: Choosing Wood Burning Appliances for more information.
Wood Stove Sizing
When buying a woodstove, it is important to choose the appropriate size for the space you'll be heating. Improper sizing can result in reduced efficiency and air quality. While they offer some guidelines for sizing on their website, EPA suggests that it is best to talk with experienced hearth product retailers who know the performance characteristics of the products they sell. They suggest bringing a floor plan of your home with you to speak to retailers so they can better help you find a unit that is well-suited to the space that will be heated.
Coconino County Community Development requires that a wood stove used as the sole heating means for a home be adequately sized to heat the space it is designated for.
Safety Tips
  1. Keep flammable items away from your stove.
  2. Regularly remove ashes into a covered metal container. Store outdoors on a non-flammable surface. Embers can remain live for over a week after a fire is out.
  3. Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors- one outside each sleeping area- following manufacturers' recommendations. See EPA's Carbon Monoxide's Impact on Indoor Air Quality for more information.
  4. Install smoke detectors in each sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area, with at least one on each floor. Current code requires that these be wired together.
Photo by Tammy Strobel/ CC BY - NC 2.0
Invasive Pests
According to the New Mexico State University Agricultural Extension office, firewood can be a means of spreading pests from one area to another. Most of these travelling pests are just a nuisance when you bring them into your home, but bark and twig beetles living in firewood can also spread into pine trees in   
your landscape. Trees other than pines are not susceptible. NSU recommends storing the firewood as far away as possible from pine trees, covering the logs with plastic and securing it at the bottom. The plastic will contain the insects as well as capture heat from the sun which can kill the larvae in the wood.
Photo by Aaron Ortiz/ CC BY - NC 2.0
A Huge List of Proven Tips,
Bark Beetles from Firewood?, New Mexico State University
Carbon Monoxide's Impact on Indoor Air Quality, EPA
Clean Burning Wood Stoves Minimize Health Risks, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Fireplaces/Stoves with Proper Ventilation,
Building America Solution Center
Safe, Efficient Wood Burning, New Hampshire Extension

Winter Wood Smoke in Northern Arizona, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Woodstoves, Fireplaces, Pellet Stoves and Masonry Heaters, State of Washington Department of Ecology
The City of Flagstaff is hiring a Sustainability Specialist!
See the full job description on their website.
Closing date: November 25, 2016
Free DIY Energy Efficiency Workshop

Thursday, November 17,  2016
6 - 7:30 pm
Main Library
Please join us to learn easy ways to reduce your energy consumption and save money. At this workshop a licensed contractor from Cozyhome will demonstrate installation tools and techniques to weatherize your home and help you save money on your utility billsWorkshops and materials are provided free of charge on a first come first served basis. 
Wild for Wilderness Online Auction 

Let's Get Wild! Time to bid for holiday gifts, vacations, and something AWESOME just for you! Surprise your friends and family with a fun get-away and support our amazing organization.

This event is our biggest FUNdraiser of the year and the money raised supports all of our grassroots efforts nationwide to protect, preserve, and celebrate our wild public lands!

When you win, we win too! To start bidding or browse around, visit


11 November, 2016 - 03 December, 2016
Weekends Only/Paid Admission

A magical holiday festival held inside our historic Walter Reichart House with additional light festival in the courtyard. Hot cider, cocoa and tea is offered along with wine available for purchase as you and your family browse the donated and beautifully decorated trees. Check out the full schedule here.

Holiday Sustainable Gift Making

Join Willow Bend as we make fun holiday gifts out of reusable and natural materials and learn about alternative gift wrapping. Guest artists will assist participants with different projects including recycled holiday cards, bottle top and pine cone ornaments and more. Materials and supplies will be provided

Event is free and open to all ages.

December 3rd : 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
703 East Sawmill Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
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To educate, support, encourage and help develop sustainable building practices for the communities within Coconino County..
Coconino County Sustainable Building Program
 928-679-8853                  928-679-8882
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Coconino County Sustainable Building Program · 2500 North Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff, AZ · Building 1 · Flagstaff, AZ 86001 · USA

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