Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hawai'i Prep's new Energy Lab: Beyond LEED

The folks at the Hawai'i Preparatory Academy on the Big Island hope their new energy lab will be a place where people can brainstorm Hawai'i's energy issues.

But it's also a place whose very existence and design make statements about where we need to go.

(Hawai'i Preparatory Academy's new Energy Lab at night at right above, and below, by day. Credit: HPA.)

The lab will formally open this weekend, timed to Earth Day celebrations. It was conceived three years ago at a Go Green workshop with HPA students, faculty and parents.

"The idea of the Energy Lab kept coming up in our small group discussion, which was focused on energy. In an hour, we had covered the walls with sticky notes. There were tremendous ideas, from all the things we could do in alternate energy, recycling, co-generation, and wind, to metering electricity on every building on campus, to becoming energy self-sufficient and possibly even an energy exporter," said Bill Wiecking, an HPA upper school science teacher and director of the lab.

An anonymous parent funded the development of the 6,112-square-foot lab, whose design was influenced by the Vladimir Ossipoff, the late Hawai'i architect who celebrated the use of the natural environment in his work.

It is two stories with a basement, and includes open classrooms, video conference room, labs, a workshop and outdoor meeting spaces protected from the Waimea winds—themselves a huge energy resource. Wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, natural ventilation and will help reduce the facility's outside energy demand to near net zero. It will include a cooling system that uses cold night air to chill water, which in turn is used during daylight to cool the lab's warmer spaces. It will catch and store water for later use.

Many buildings in Hawai'i have now been developed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standards. (LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental design.) This one aspires to a newer, higher standard, the Living Building Challenge.

"It's a living building; it will teach through its operation with all of its systems clearly illustrated for learning purposes. It's intended to be a utilities-neutral building with hopes of exporting power. It's the first of its kind for a school building in Hawai‘i,” said project manager Ken Melrose.

"This is a place where we will actually change the future. We are in a position to make a tremendous mark on the whole green alternate energy future of how energy is produced, used, and handled,” Wiecking said.

( The public is invited to a community open house 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 17. Reservations are encouraged—808-881-4266; or e-mail:

Architect: David Croteau, AIA

Flansburgh Architects, Boston, Massachusetts

Project Manager: Ken Melrose, Pa‘ahana Enterprises

Contractor: Quality Builders, Inc.

Square Footage: 6,112 under roof (4,363 sf upper floor; 972 sf basement; 777 sf outdoor classroom)

Groundbreaking: August 14, 2008

Opening: January 5, 2010

Estimated Building Cost: $6.3 million

© Jan TenBruggencate 2010

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic photos! The best thing Hawai'i can do is embrace green technologies like solar, which have proven cost-effective and incredibly viable energy sources for the future. The sun is free - we waste it on tanning why can't we harness its power for energy creation? We just wrote a great post about how much money Hawai'ian households can save if given the opportunity by government to sell the energy they produce back to the Public Utilities Commission. See net metering at