The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is embarking on a multiyear effort to harness sustainable energy and modernize campuses while expanding real-world educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Yesterday, the DOE announced it has selected Chevron Energy Solutions to help lead implementation of the five-year sustainable energy program, to be called Ka Hei.
The name Ka Hei comes from a specific type of snare used by the Hawaiian god Maui to capture the sun, according to Hawaiian tradition. The DOE’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program educational specialists provided the name for this ambitious program.
Ka Hei will include the installation of sustainable energy generation equipment in all public schools statewide, positioning the DOE among the state’s foremost environmental stewards.
Another meaning of Ka Hei is, “to absorb as knowledge or skill.” As an extension of facility upgrades, Ka Hei will feature educational opportunities to engage students and staff in energy awareness and STEM. Components of the program include living laboratories, energy conservation hands-on learning, green energy simulators, STEM career exposure and student school contests. Students will receive real-time data on clean energy systems, creating relevant lessons about real-world scenarios.
Educational, environmental and financial benefits of Ka Hei will extend well beyond the five-year plan. The initiative will help boost student achievement in STEM while enhancing the financial stability of the DOE through the implementation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other sustainability projects.
“Ka Hei offers exciting opportunities on a number of levels, from educating our students about a multitude of energy components and workforce opportunities to strengthening communities and partnerships in the state’s energy sustainability goals,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Additionally, Ka Hei is a critical pillar of the DOE’s Strategic Plan to enhance learning opportunities in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We look forward to our partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions in shaping curricula for our schools and collaboration with our utility companies in exploring all that this program has to offer.”
Speaking at a press conference today at Kaimuki High, one of several DOE campuses currently powered partly by rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, Matayoshi reinforced the DOE’s commitment to Hawaii’s sustainable future. In 2011, the DOE began a pilot program to install PV systems at four Oahu high schools. The pilot expanded a year later to include 28 more schools on Oahu, and all 15 on Kauai. Building on the success of the pilot, which now includes a total of 47 schools on Oahu and Kauai, the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services is rolling out the Ka Hei program.
Ka Hei Phase I will begin implementation of renewable energy integration at three schools – one each on Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu. As schools become more self sufficient, they can add additional value to the integrated electric grid of the future. The DOE will be a pioneer among the nation’s school districts by demonstrating the commitment and capability to becoming self-reliant for energy needs.
Brian Kealoha, regional manager for Chevron Energy Solutions, said, “Ka Hei is a comprehensive program that goes well beyond a traditional facilities improvement project but rather, focuses on driving broad-based impacts and results for the Department of Education and the communities which it serves.”
The DOE and Chevron Energy Solutions are working with Hawaiian Electric Company to find solutions to anticipated limitations on distributed generation on some neighborhood circuits.
“Hawaiian Electric Company is at the cutting edge of integrating utility-scale and customer-sited renewable energy generation and our collaboration with the Department of Education and Chevron Energy Solutions is key to ensuring that our future generations understand and act upon the importance of energy sustainability in our island state,” said Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Dick Rosenblum.
The overarching goals for Ka Hei are:
· Reduce energy consumption and cost at all 255 DOE schools;
· Build a diverse portfolio of new, clean, and on-site energy generation;
· Implement aggressive energy efficiency and conservation measures including demand response;
· Support the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals and the DOE’s goal of 90 percent clean energy by 2040; and
· Leverage this transformation to create educational opportunities and stimulate the economy through employment of local expertise and labor.
Kaimuki High administrators today demonstrated the school’s data dashboard showing real-time feeds of its energy system. Kaimuki High, in partnership with the Office of Naval Research, will integrate renewable energy efforts into its curriculum beginning fall 2014 with the debut of a STEM Academy. Kaimuki’s STEM Academy is part of the school’s Wall-to-Wall Academies, featuring college-style classes providing personalized education as well as college and career preparation for students. The STEM Academy will focus on the engineering design process.
“Kaimuki High is not only doing its share to heighten the awareness of energy efficiency and sustainability but we are also raising the bar of student learning in STEM subjects and career pathways,” said Wade Araki, principal. “We are very excited about expanding our pilot efforts and the department’s partnerships going forward to shape our curriculum into real-world application.”