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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 11, 2001

A cool house

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

Click on image for text details.

Photo by Jeff Widener

Photo illustration by Stephen Downes

The Honolulu Advertiser

When the lucky owners move into this new Wai'anae Valley home later this month, they are going to be coolest people on the block. Architect Nick Huddleston has seen to it, incorporating nearly 30 energy-saving and heat-dissipating features into the house situated in one of O'ahu's hottest areas.

Lots of jalousie windows. Overhead fans. Energy-efficient appliances. Radiant barriers to reflect the sun. White walls and ceilings. Solar water heating. A large carport. Extra-big eaves.

"It's not any one thing," Hud-dleston said. "It's all the little things that add up."

While none of the improvements is new, the home marks the first time anyone has tried to include so many cooling features in a standard-issue Island home.

And it's still affordable by Hawai'i standards. Total construction cost: about $127,800.

Huddleston designed the home as a demonstration project under a grant from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's Energy Division. The goal is to show local contractors and homebuyers it's possible to lower temperatures inside a home without significantly raising the cost.

"It's a brand new way of building homes after all these years," said Karen Nakamura, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Hawai'i, one of the partners in the project. "We're trying to show our members that they can incorporate these types of features and still make a profit."

To keep costs as low as possible, Huddleston started with a standard Model 1200 home from Honolulu's Honsador Lumber Corp. The four-bedroom model features pre-cut materials used by many small contractors, including those who do single-family home work for the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Then Huddleston included as many energy-conserving features as he could. Fluorescent lighting. Large screen doors. A ventilating skylight. Extra-wide windows. A raised pier foundation. Better orientation to capture trade winds. Stove vents.

"These are all changes that can be made to any home without increasing the cost very much," he said. Many people often try to put these features in existing homes, but it's almost always less expensive to incorporate them when the home is built, he said.

Although final figures aren't in yet, Huddleston thinks all of the 30 changes will add up to no more than than $5,000 to the initial construction costs.

And that will be more than offset by the energy bill savings — as much as $600 per year — that will start accruing right away for the homeowners (who are selected from the Hawaiian Home Lands waiting list), from solar water heating to the ability to do without air conditioning.

"And they are going to appreciate cooler temperatures inside the home, especially in the summer time," said Sandy Asato, the chief of the Hawaiian Home Lands Housing Project Branch, which provided land for the project.

Huddleston said the changes may lower the interior temperature of the home as much as four or five degrees compared to neighboring houses.

Overall, the four-bedroom home is 48 square feet larger than the standard 1,200-square-foot Honsador model. Huddleston modified the interior floor plans to add large amounts of space in the living and dining areas. But the home has less closet and kitchen space.

Those involved hope the project will encourage contractors to make similar modifications to their homes, especially those building for low-income families who can least afford to pay extra money for air conditioning and other high-energy features. Honsador said it may incorporate many of the changes into its model as a package of options.

Mike Leidemann writes regularly about home and design issues. He can be reached at 525-5460 or mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com

• • •

Some energy-efficient building strategies

 •  Open house

Energy and conservation home

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 19; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20.

85-1398 Kamai- leunu St., Wai'anae Valley.


A complete list of the building strategies included in the home for energy efficiency, comfort and environmental responsibility:

  • Position of the house to minimize solar heat and improve exposure to trade winds and cross-ventilation.
  • Light-colored roofing to reflect heat.
  • Roof ridge and soffit vents to take heat from attic spaces.
  • Polyethylene bubble insulating radiant barrier in attic.
  • Radiant barrier bonded to particle board roof sheathing.
  • Radiant barriers in walls exposed to high sun levels.
  • Generous eaves for window and wall shading.
  • Shading of south-facing wall by carport and of the east-facing wall by entry porch.
  • Light-colored exterior finishes to reflect heat.
  • Large window openings to provide ample light and ventilation.
  • Ventilating skylight to remove heat and improve lighting and air circulation.
  • Louvered bedroom doors to improve air circulation.
  • Kitchen area situated on leeward side of house for removal of cooking heat.
  • Front screen door.
  • Screened operable glazing at kitchen door for improved ventilation
  • Ceiling fans.
  • Direct venting of stove heat.
  • Washer and dryer in carport to keep their heat outdoors.
  • Solar water heating.
  • Microwave to reduce oven use.
  • High-efficiency refrigerator.
  • Light colored finishes in interior space to increase efficiency of lighting.
  • Fluorescent lighting where possible.
  • Raised pier foundations to provide cool flow under home and easy inspection for ground termites.
  • Use of cast concrete caps on concrete masonry columns to reduce risk of termite infestation.
  • Borate-treated lumber to fight termites.
  • Use of termite-resistant plastic lumber on deck areas.
  • Roof and floor plans that are scaled to standard dimensions to reduce waste.
  • Larger-than-normal hall, bathroom and door widths, to improve accessibility.
  • Use of recycled, crushed concrete under garage and driveway slabs.