Across the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, energy efficiency measures are paying off. Since 2007, the campus has saved more than nine percent on its projected energy costs, representing $3.4 million in energy savings in 2014 alone. This was achieved through strategic air conditioning, lighting and building control retrofitting projects. A huge accomplishment, considering Mānoa has added 300,000 square feet in energy-intensive new buildings.

UH Mānoa also sports the state’s first LEED Platinum laboratory facility—the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education or C-MORE Hale. LEED is a green building certification that recognizes best building practices and platinum is the highest level. The campus also has a new LEED Gold dance studio. A number of buildings, such as the newly renovated Gartley Hall and the IT Center, have achieved LEED Silver certification. Even more energy improvements are on the horizon.

Photovoltaic panels

Photovoltaic panels panels on renovated Gartley Hall.

“What we are moving towards now is going beyond LEED, a much more aggressive look at building performance,” explained UH Mānoa Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor Stephen Meder.

Although many new and retrofitted buildings on campus already have photovoltaic panels, plans are to modernize UH Mānoa’s electrical grid and to add more PV arrays to generate another 1.5 to 2.0 megawatts of electricity. These renewable energy systems would reduce the campus’ electricity demand by about 10 percent, lowering energy costs as well.

Also in the plans, the university’s and the state’s first net-zero large-scale retrofit project will be done on 80,000 square feet of classrooms and offices at Kuykendall Hall. No fossil fuel will be consumed in the operation of the renovated building. It will be designed to use at least 60 percent less energy than it does now, with PV-generated electricity supplying the balance.

Within a decade, UH Mānoa could be a model for energy solutions and sustainability.

UH Mānoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman explained this vision, “When they come to Mānoa, students should know that they are coming to a university that exemplifies solutions to the problems that face us in the 21st century—problems like sustainability and climate change. When they come here, they will study those matters, they will do research on those matters and they need to know that they will be living in buildings that exemplify solutions to those problems.”