In 2009, EDA (Economic Development Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce) made a Global Climate Change Mitigation grant to MEDB for three specific purposes to demonstrate practical initiatives that align with MEDB’s mission to provide leadership for the responsible design and development of a strong, sustainable and diversified economy.
The first objective of the grant is to develop and construct a PV “solar tree” system in the parking lot of MEDB’s 32,000 square foot, multi-tenant Ke Alahele Building in the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei. As a condition of the EDA grant, the 33kW PV system incorporates a battery storage system capable of providing emergency back-up power to the building in the event of MECO outage, reflecting the presence of tenants in the building for whom emergency power is imperative. In addition to the EDA grant, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at UH-Manoa is funding an additional “piggyback” 22kW solar tree demonstration system, funded through a grant from the Office of Naval research (ONR). The entire integrated system will therefore be approx. 55kW.
With guidance from EDA, MEDB embarked on a two-step Design-Build proposal process. Following an RFQ and RFP process, a contractor – HNU Energy, LLC was selected. Work on the array began in May 2014 and concluded in July.
Another element of the EDA grant is the retroactive LEED certification of MEDB’s Ke Alahele Building as an existing building. The first phase of this work was to perform a “gap analysis” to identify the scale and scope of work required to achieve LEED status. This analysis covered energy use; water consumption (including irrigation); air quality; ventilation and other environmental considerations. The analysis also provided a “road map” for further energy and environmental auditing and identification of remedial measures necessary to meet LEED standards. These included changes in current practices following initial observation and data collection, capital improvements, introduction of policy measures, staff training, upgraded data gathering and ongoing monitoring. It is anticipated that LEED certification will be achieved in the fall of 2014.
The third aspect of EDA’s grant is the construction of a 380 square foot addition to the Ke Alahele Building for a Renewable Energy Resource Center (RERC). The RERC provides a dedicated area for a real and virtual library of renewable energy resources and data, and a staging and training area for MEDB’s numerous initiatives for instructors and students in the energy field (for example, the Island Energy Inquiry designed and pioneered by MEDB’s Women in Technology program). The RERC was completed in mid-2014.