UH Mānoa announces grand opening ceremony for its first net zero energy buildings

On November 4, 2016, the College of Education (COE) and Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) will co-host a grand opening of the much-anticipated 1,500 square foot FROG (Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth) classrooms on the COE Complex. Funded by HNEI, an organized research unit of the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology, through a grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), these net zero structures will provide valuable data on the effect of usage and building design on energy demand.

“This project is part of a larger research program, funded by ONR, intended to evaluate the performance and integration of a range of energy technologies that includes energy efficiency, storage, and renewable generation systems,” said Dr. Richard Rocheleau, HNEI Director.

Designed and installed by Project Frog, a California architecture company, the classrooms are energy neutral, generating at least as much energy as they use. Funding for site work, hardscape, and landscaping were provided by the UH Mānoa Office of Planning and Facilities.

As research platforms, the classrooms incorporate a real-time dashboard that displays current and past operating conditions, including climate comfort indicators as well as energy use by the different components, such as lighting, ceiling fans, air conditioning, and plug loads. Intended as an educational tool, the dashboard will also foster more efficient behavior by allowing users to visualize their energy usage and generation. Each of the two rooftops contains five kW photovoltaic (PV) arrays.

The classrooms also feature high efficiency LED lighting with sensors that respond to the amount of natural daylight in the room to control lighting usage. A number of lighting modes can be programmed to accommodate various visual requirements. The walls and ceiling are highly insulated, and the windows feature high-performance glazing that allows visible light through without the infrared spectrum responsible for solar heat gain in a building.

The two UH classrooms are the last of five platforms installed in Hawai‘i. The first classroom was built in 2011 at ‘Ilima Intermediate School in Ewa Beach, O‘ahu. In 2013, two classrooms were installed at Kawaikini New Century Charter School in Lihu‘e, Kauaʻi. Building design and construction have been modified throughout the project, incorporating improvements along the way.

The grand opening ceremony begins at 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Events include a Hawaiian blessing, ribbon cutting, introduction to the structures, and informal tours.  The Frog classrooms are located behind Wist Hall and across from Castle Memorial Building on the COE Complex.

Press release content provided by UHM College of Education.