The University of Hawaiʻi has signed an agreement with Palamanui Partners that clears the way for construction of the long-awaited Hawaiʻi Community College at Palamanui, a 78-acre site about a mile north of Kona Airport. Construction is expected to begin by fall 2011.
It is expected to be the one of the most energy-efficient college complexes in the United States when it opens in fall 2012.
UH President M.R.C. Greenwood calls the public-private partnership an “enlightened approach that allows us to move forward even in tough times.”
Under the agreement, the university will build a $4.7 million access road to the site, and Palamanui Partners, developers of the Palamanui community, will spend an equal amount toward building the first of two planned phases of the community college project.
The project will bring educational opportunity an educationally underserved area of the state, Greenwood notes.
“We expect to serve about 700 total students when the first phase is completed,” says Noreen Yamane, interim chancellor of Hawaiʻi Community College. “That includes about 200 students who attend by way of our distance-learning capabilities.”
The first phase will include one complete building and a stand-alone portion of a second building that will be extended during phase two. It will house the University of Hawaiʻi Center in West Hawaiʻi, currently occupying rented space in Kealakekua.
“Palamanui will offer not just Hawaiʻi Community College courses, but also, through the UH Center, bachelors and masters degrees to folks on the west side of Hawaiʻi,” says John Morton, UH vice president for community colleges.
Designed to fit within the contours of the volcanic flows in the area, the facilities will incorporate advanced technology and sustainability features with an eye to qualifying for the U.S. Green Building Councilʻs Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design platinum designation, notes architect John Ida of Urban Works. Buildings will face south to minimize lighting requirements and maximize sunlight on photovoltaic cells. Vertical access windmills will generate additional electricity. There will be “waterless toilets.” Sewage will be treated on-site, separating water from solids for reuse to water landscaping. Treated solids will be pumped and removed from the site.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities to build a new campus,” Greenwood observes. Palamanui will serve as a model for other state projects by addressing Hawaiʻi goal of becoming energy independent and showing how to build without a big footprint.
For now, Palamanui will operate as a branch campus of Hawaiʻi Community College. “If it gets big enough, it might be a stand alone campus way down the line,” Morton says. “Who knows?”