Lawmakers discuss SB2424 SB2, master strategy for cooling of public school facilities
The Senate and House Committees on Education and Energy yesterday heard from the Department of Education (DOE) to get an update on Ka Hei, the department’s five-year comprehensive sustainability energy program. The goal of the program is to integrate innovative energy technology with meaningful learning experiences, all while reducing energy costs and operational expenses. (The hearing can be viewed at the Senate Webcast Archive Pilot.)
Also in attendance were Chevron Hawaii, University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, State Energy Office.
Much of the discussion focused around renewable energy and technology to create a master cooling strategy for all schools.
Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Committee on Education, said that an optimal course of action for cooling should start with the quick but efficient collection of good data related to school cooling needs and challenges to help lawmakers make decisions on how to strategically approach this issue and devise a plan to sustain both the funding and infrastructure moving forward.
“We would be doing the public a disservice by simply appropriating funds without strategically looking at the best possible way to provide the needed infrastructure upgrades while understanding how it fits into our overall facilities master plan and remaining cost-effective, efficient and sustainable,” said Senator Tokuda.
Currently moving through the legislative process this session is a measure that addresses the issue of cooling Hawaii schools. Senate Bill 2424 would require the DOE and the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), together with various state entities, to develop a master strategy to cool all public school facilities and conduct a comprehensive study that addresses factors such as the electrical standards needed and costs associated with furnishing and maintaining air conditioning units in school buildings.
“Many of Hawaii’s school buildings were not built to accommodate sources that require substantial electrical needs and are not even optimal to sustain renewable energy technologies,” said Sen. Tokuda. “Cooling and upgrading our schools is a priority for lawmakers and I believe there is a desire to provide a significant amount of resources in the budget towards the cause,” added Tokuda. “Bu we need to do it smart. We will be at a good place with the work of Ka Hei program and other initiatives, and SB2424 will help us move forward strategically.”
In their testimony, Ka Hei representatives provided lawmakers with a projected timeline of five phases that would run from 2014 to 2018. Phase one would include fast-tracking solar PV installations on “open HECO circuits”, which is covers approximately 30 schools. It was also noted that even though the DOE has over 44 million square feet of learning space, not every single square foot would need to be air conditioned.
Among other initiatives, Hawaii’s Natural Energy Institute is working to develop a facility assessment protocol to guide the design of comfortable learning environments with reduced energy consumption, using James Campbell High School complex as a test site.
SB2424 will be heard by the House Committee on Education on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. in conference room 309.
*Senate Webcast Archive Pilot – http://olelo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=13
Posted by Hawaii Senate Majority Caucus