The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability awardees. Honowai Elementary School, located in the heart of Waipahu, is among the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) that was selected for its innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) nominated the elementary school due to its success of integrating innovative energy technology with meaningful learning experiences, all while reducing energy costs. Its teachers, students and staff also worked together to create a healthy school campus and a safe pedestrian area around Honowai Elementary.
"We're thrilled to hear that Honowai Elementary is one of 40 public schools nationwide being honored this year," said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services. "Honowai Elementary is an exemplary model of sustainability and our first HIDOE campus to complete a school retrofit with campus-wide energy efficiencies and energy generation. This recognition signifies that HIDOE is moving in the right direction for our energy plans."
The school's 492 solar photovoltaic modules generate 400 kilowatt-hours per day of clean power, minimizing the campus' carbon footprint. Efficiency measures include interior and exterior LED retrofits, refrigeration system and electric motor upgrades, ventilation controls, roofing insulation, and retro-commissioning of existing HVAC equipment. Honowai has earned an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score of 96, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 58 percent and energy use by 42 percent in just one year.
"We're honored to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for our school facilities and student achievement in the areas of health, wellness and environmental education," said Honowai Elementary Principal Kent Matsumura. "Our school has been a great pioneer as Hawaii's public schools transform their facilities to become more energy efficient. The construction project and energy-saving changes that were implemented provided our students with a valuable opportunity to learn about sustainability as well as energy production and consumption."
At Honowai Elementary, students learn place-based lessons that incorporate solar energy, computer science and oral history. The school, which serves more than 700 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, also has a lo'i (taro) patch, and hydroponics and aquaponics systems on campus.
Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto added, "This is a wonderful example of school design where HIDOE operations and classroom lessons are intertwined. This is truly innovated learning at its best."
This year's honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.
The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 58 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.