January 9, 2010 – Waimea, Hawaii
VIDEO courtesy Hawaii Preparatory Academy
Hawaii Preparatory Academy has opened a 6,112-square-foot Energy Lab in Hawaii, and the school has big plans for the model structure of sustainability.
“This is a place where we will actually change the future,” says Upper School science teacher and Energy Lab director Dr. Bill Wiecking in a press release, who was intimately involved with the development and design of the Energy Lab. “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.”
The Energy Lab was officially opened with a blessing by Kahu Danny Akaka on Tuesday, January 5. A grand opening is planned for April.
The building is more then a place where students will “work in teams to research, design, and develop new and existing renewable energy technologies,” as Architect David Croteau of Flansburgh Architects in Boston said. It could also be the first K-12 school facility in the world to meet the Living Building Challenge, a criteria that exceeds LEED Platinum certification, which the school also is pursuing, according to the the HPA media release. “I am not aware of another independent school with such an ambitious facility,” says Croteau.
The Energy Lab features open classroom areas and outdoor courtyards and decks, which will encourage collaborative learning, says HPA.
The release says:
The Lab consists of three “zones” that mimic the creative process students experience when working on projects, from brainstorming to design to physical construction. The long, mauka building features individual project rooms equipped with computers and SmartBoards that also can be used as monitoring labs and a video conference room for 12-15 people. The central structure is a collaborative, carpeted flexible open space with a central set of screens configured in a triangular shape so no matter where a student is in the room, the screens are visible.
The building will be powered by Wind turbines and an array of roof-mounted photovoltaic panels. HPA says the Energy Lab will use 100 percent on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis.
All wood is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified or from salvaged sources. Every occupiable space has operable windows and the building is almost entirely naturally ventilated. An innovative radiant cooling system, which uses colder nighttime air to chill water, is used to condition warm spaces during the day.
“The building’s energy use and energy generation will be monitored,” says Croteau. “Sensors will monitor and control artificial lighting and natural air flow. The building’s performance will be shown on monitors at the lab and around campus.” Project manager Melrose adds, “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.”
Energy use in all campus buildings will be monitored from the Energy Lab, including a “test house,” one of the faculty cottages.
“We’ll do the research and find out the best way to do things, model best practices with the kids, and share what we learn with the community,” says Wiecking, who sees the outreach component extending beyond local communities and schools to hosting national and international summer conferences, which is a natural extension of the Lab’s mission of education, monitoring, and outreach.
HPA says the Energy Lab concept developed at a Go Green charrette in May 2007, when a group of students, faculty, administrators, and parents met for an intensive day-long session to create a vision for a sustainable campus. An HPA parent with extensive experience in green energy utilities participated in the energy group discussion and saw the Energy Lab as a “logical necessity.” He and his wife made a commitment to fund the Energy Lab.
“Our generation will not change,” said the donor, who HPA says wishes to remain anonymous. “The alarm is getting louder and louder, and the sad thing is that we are consuming our kids’ future. They are receptive, they are enthusiastic about learning and trying to find solutions to problems at their level. Education is a very, very essential need. The children are the key to the future.”
Headmaster Lindsay Barnes explained the tremendous potential he sees in the Energy Lab in the release.
“First and foremost, the lab will be an instructional facility where our students can begin to learn about the functional imperatives of a post-Age of Petroleum world. Those educated in sustainability and the dozens of disciplines (e.g., agricultural production, commerce, law, business, manufacturing, and engineering) touched by the quest for cleaner and renewable energy sources will be tomorrow’s leaders, and the Energy Lab will give our students a ‘head start’ in becoming the leaders of their generation.
“Second, we see the Energy Lab as an extraordinary resource for the Big Island. In the field of agriculture alone, the outreach possibilities are enormous.
“Third, the Energy Lab is envisioned as creating a flagship identity for HPA, an identity to which no other school can lay claim and this can pay tremendous dividends in the recruitment of students and faculty, not to mention what it can mean in terms of friend-raising for the school.”
Wiecking adds, “A lot of the things we’re doing with the Energy Lab haven’t been done anywhere. The building will be so completely off the grid and energy efficient with water catchment, passive water cooling…this building will do things that haven’t been done in any separate situation, let alone combined. It will be a clarion of where a building can be environmentally.”