Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is close to completing its first school retrofit with campus-wide energy efficiencies and energy generation. Honowai Elementary School in Waipahu is HIDOE’s most extensive deployment of energy and sustainability efforts.
As part of HIDOE’s Ka Hei program, the school installed the maximum amount of photovoltaic (PV) panels by Hawaiian Electric Company’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program of 100 kilowatts.
Department officials on Thursday gave state lawmakers a tour of the project’s progress. Before the electrical efficiencies were installed, Honowai Elementary campus had less than 10 percent of electrical capacity. The efficiencies installed included:
- Replacing all existing lighting on campus with LED lights
- Changing old, inefficient condenser units in existing air conditioners
- Retrofitting kitchen refrigeration units with new compressor and energy saving devices
- Installing more efficient cooking ventilation systems
Honowai Elementary campus has already seen a net gain of 25 percent in electrical capacity. This enabled HIDOE to install air conditioning units to 23 classrooms so far. Four more classrooms will see AC installation.
“We’re learning a lot from the efficiency work done at Honowai as we continue system-wide reforms to improve the school climate, lower our utility costs and become better environmental stewards,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Many of our campuses pose a challenge because of their outdated infrastructures, however, this project shows us what can be done.”
The installed AC projects at Honowai Elementary included ceiling fans in each room to complement the air conditioning units, allowing teachers the flexibility of keeping the AC off and adding more fresh air during the cooler months by opening windows.
“Our students and faculty are excited to be part of the Department’s sustainability efforts that has brought a number improvements to our campus,”said Honowai Principal Kent Matsumura. “Our teachers have really embraced the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning that is part of the Ka Hei Program as well. They have been in professional development and provide students hands on sustainability learning.”
The Department is assessing the feasibility of sustainable measures at other locations.
Efficiency improvements such as LED lighting is currently taking place at a number of schools, including four high school stadiums: King Kekaulike High School on Maui, Moanalua and Waipahu high schools on Oahu and Kealakehe High School on Hawaii Island. These lighting changes allow for lower electrical usage and longer life spans for the bulbs, which in turn lower maintenance needs.
Ka Hei is HIDOE’s five-year endeavor launched in 2014, aimed to integrate innovative energy technology with meaningful learning experiences, all while reducing energy costs.
The Ka Hei initiative is working on installing 81 photovoltaic systems under the previous NEM program at 74 Oahu schools by the end of 2016. This will bring the total number of schools with sustainable energy generating PV systems to 114 out of a total of 256 schools statewide.
HIDOE officials continue to engage with Hawaiian Electric Company officials on the Department’s desire to develop net-zero energy campuses through energy efficiency and sustainable energy generation coupled with battery storage.
For more information on HIDOE’s energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.