How One Hawaiian Mayor is Making His Town Better

ocean shore
Hawaii is a beautiful part of the world and like most gorgeous parts pf this planet it’s feeling the pressures of climate change. Despite the American government’s blatant rejection of science and sense in environmental policy one Hawaiian mayor, Bernard Carvalho, is bringing his community into the 21st century. Indeed, when the American government pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord the mayors of Hawaii along with the governor committed to following the accord in their state. Over at Grist they look at what Carvalho is doing in his community, hopefully other mayors will follow his lead.

At the start of his first full term in 2010, Carvalho opened his inaugural address with a vision of a better, more livable Kauai, which he branded as Holo Holo 2020. It laid out the top priorities for the community, from economic resilience to environmental sustainability, and identified 38 projects to carry out. That included installing crosswalks, photovoltaic panels, transit infrastructure, and EV charging stations.

“A lot of this came from my going out into the community. I like to go visit people,” he says. “From these meetings came these 38 projects.”

Many are well underway, and several have been completed, including an upgrade to existing bus service and the extension of a pedestrian path that now stretches along the seashore between the towns of Kealia and Wailua. (You can see the complete list of projects here.) “All of it is tied into this bigger vision of honoring the land and the water and the environment,” Carvalho says.

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This Classroom Makes More Energy Than it Consumes

Anderson Anderson Architecture has built a classroom in Hawaii that generates more energy than it consumes, making what they call a “energy positive” building. The term “energy positive” is being encouraged to replace “net zero” as the benchmark for environmental consciousness in architecture.

The classroom does use roof solar panels to generate energy, though the roof’s saw-tooth shape helps to that end. The slating, jagged design is often referred to as a factory roof, deriving from its use in the design of factories more than a century ago. With north-facing windows, this roof shape is particularly efficient at capturing daylight, and paired with lower-lying windows too, it provides ventilation for hot air to escape. Not to mention a good way to shed rain water. Before electricity was widespread, these roofs were the main way massive factories could get both light and ventilation. It fell out of favor, replaced by flat roofs, once electricity became cheaper, but Anderson says it’s still a remarkably effective design. “It’s a reminder some of those things were there for very good reasons,” he says.

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