Hawaii Research Center Walks The Green Talk

In an era of rising fuel costs and rising sea levels, islands are especially vulnerable. And recent years have seen Hawaii taking a leading role in cutting its carbon footprint and generating its own renewable energy. From using seawater to cool municipal buildings in Honululu to pioneering an ocean thermal power conversion plant to leading the nation in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, it’s clear that the archipelago is making strides to green its operations. So it seems only fitting that the University of Hawaii Mānoa’s (UH Mānoa) new research laboratory building has taken LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Despite the state’s increasingly eco-friendly profile, however, it hasn’t so far seen a huge green building boom, so the building that houses the university’s Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Hale marks a couple of real milestones in becoming the first research laboratory building in Hawaii to take the USGBC’s highest level of green certification, and the eighth construction project in the state to do so.

C-MORE, University of Hawaii

image via University of Hawaii

Designed by Group 70 International, the building is home to a host of green features, including ultra low-flow toilets, automated faucets and waterless urinals that cut the building’s potable water use by 48 percent, and an underground storm water chamber detention system that treats 25,000 gallons of storm water run off on site each year.

A 2,400-square-foot green roof helps to reduce the building’s temperature, increase carbon dioxide removal and provide habitat for insects and birds; it features a variety of native and adapted plants, including Aloe, ‘Akulikuli, Sedum and Portulaca. Likewise, native, drought-tolerant plants like ‘Aki‘aki and Naupaka—and a drip irrigation system with rain-sensing irrigation controls—aid in the building’s water conservation strategy.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.