Issue 6.5 Green Living

By Maresa Giovannini

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Whether you are a committed environmentalist, a regular recycler, or simply want to lower your electric bill, every bit of action helps to create a sustainable society. With evolving technology and new comprehension of our existing practices and products, it can be challenging to keep up. If you are looking for a place to start, don’t forget the timeless motto: reduce, reuse, recycle. Then, consider using products and materials that last longer and create less waste from the beginning. Simply put, those contributions that make a substantial impact should be sustainable. The easiest way to make sustainable structures for the future is to start from the beginning and create lasting, efficient homes and commercial buildings.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is still a measurable tool for sustainable building. Builders, architects, and other industry professionals undergo extensive and rigorous training to obtain their LEED® certifications. When a professional is certified you can guarantee that he or she fully understands the thinking behind the organization and the regulations that it enforces. There are varying degrees of LEED® certification both for the professionals and the buildings.

Kauai’s first certified LEED® Platinum home, presented by Paul Kyno, is featured on the cover of this issue. Kalihi Kai Vista was designed and built by Terra Pacific Construction LLC to highly specific standards. All aspects of the design and building process for a sustainable luxury home were considered including low maintenance landscaping. Other green featured include low-emission tempered glass in all exterior windows & doors, a photovoltaic system rated at 8.3 KW, energy star appliances, a 4500 gallon rain water catchment, low flow showerheads, dual flush toilets, reclaimed teak windows and doors, and FSC certified hardwood flooring, baseboards, ceilings, decking, cabinets, and more. Additionally, they carefully deconstructed the pre-existing home and reused many of those materials including framing lumber, roof and floor tiles, in the new construction.

While reusing existing materials is a significant contribution, harnessing the earth’s easily renewable resources saves a bit of everything in the long run. There are constantly more efficient developments for the electrical systems in your home such as heating, cooling and lighting. Although in use for quite some time, photovoltaic panels are becoming more common and accessible – especially with the sunny skies in Hawaii. By converting the sun’s solar radiation into electricity, it is easy to power a home and heat water which drastically reduces electric bills. This was how Hookipa House, the second home built in Maui Meadows and presented by Robert H. ‘Robbie’ Dein, became sustainable. Remodeled just a few years ago, the owner re-designed it to be a fully sustainable house with 8 KW of photovoltaic panels for power and infinite steaming hot water from the double 120 gallon Solar Hot water heater.

If the idea of photovoltaic panels has you in a spin, turn to the professionals at Hawaii Home Expo. Their motto, “Living Green is an Investment,” is reflective of their mission to educate. With weekly seminars and monthly open houses, the company’s Photovoltaic (PV) experts will help you discover how PV works, the tax incentives involved in installing PV, the different types of PV systems that are available, and give you a firsthand look at a PV system in operation. With a comprehensive array of green products, such as LED lights, porcelain tiles made from recyclable material, TOTO toilet with low flush technology, faucets and fixtures with reduced water consumption, and Energy Star Appliances, Hawaii Home Expo helps consumers and builders outfit homes for form, efficient function, and sustainability.

Regardless of the need for conservation, the consumer industry is still driven by the bottom line. Most people are happy to contribute by purchasing eco-friendly products – as long as they are still affordable. In addition to sustainable products being of the utmost quality, they have an outstanding Return on Investment (ROI). So, conscious companies help ensure that a household will be less expensive to operate from the beginning and if you choose to sell, the home will have more value.

Although every area of daily life influences the impact we have on this earth, changing building practices for the future can have a substantial impact. Society is responsible for, and is making a concerted effort to prolong and improve the quality of life on this planet. So when choosing your next luxury home, updating your current residence, or finding the best professional for a new project, consider the ecological impact, energy efficiency, and return on investment to make a positive change toward preserving our future.

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