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Kealakehe High School with a solar-powered weather station. Credit: J S Jackson/MKThink

The Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), a research unit within the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, has partnered with the state Department of Education (HIDOE) to monitor and adjust classroom temperatures.

Beginning this month, classroom temperatures and environmental data collected at public school campuses will be posted to a new website, the HIDOE Thermal Comfort website. The data are gathered from 37 schools with weather stations and 62 schools with indoor sensors that monitor classroom temperatures statewide.

Solar-powered weather stations mounted on these schools transmit data to a receiver in the school office, which is then posted to the new HIDOE Thermal Comfort website. Indoor classroom temperatures are monitored by the use of 737 data loggers that record the temperature and humidity every 30 minutes.

“The Thermal Comfort portal is an important tool we use for heat abatement decisions,” said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “The public now has the opportunity to view the environmental conditions we monitor when determining the best cooling method for a classroom.”

Teachers and students will have the opportunity to use the posted data for class projects. Additionally, information on local microclimates—climates of small-scale areas—be useful for sustainable design across Hawaiʻi.

“The linkage to interior environmental conditions also offers the opportunity to further the understanding between environment and building performance,” said Rick Rocheleau, HNEI director. “HNEI has been using the data to analyze performance of its net-zero classrooms on both Oʻahu and Kauaʻi with the ultimate goal of encouraging sustainable design.”

More on HIDOE Thermal Comfort

HIDOE has weather stations and classroom sensors at schools on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. In some cases, weather stations may be installed at specific schools when it is determined that mircoclimates caused by landforms, vegetation or urban development are creating distinct thermal conditions.

The HIDOE Thermal Comfort website was built by MKThink in collaboration the data analytics firm, RoundhouseOne.

While thermal comfort depends on several factors, including air temperature, humidity and air velocity, the department continues to abate heat through a combination of active and passive cooling strategies. The $100 million appropriated by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature helped to cool down 1,190 classrooms to date, with contracts set for more than 1,300 classrooms. HIDOE‘s heat abatement efforts also consist of installing ceiling fans, using nighttime ventilation, painting roofs with heat-reflective coating and extending shade.

 

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