Bill Brooks, Ferraro Choi Architects
Located at the entrance to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in Kailua-Kona, the NELHA Gateway Distributed and Renewable Energy Center will engage in distributed and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, education and outreach. The 3,600 SF zero net energy visitor center houses administrative office space, restrooms, support space and a 2,000 SF multipurpose space that will be utilized for displays, outreach, conferencing and education. This extremely unique facility incorporates several cutting edge system technologies and is a showcase and trendsetter in environmental architecture for island applications. It is also the first LEED NC certified project in Hawaii and only the 15th project to achieve LEED Platinum.
The key energy saving measures at the NELHA center are: the elimination of the need for mechanical ventilation system via an innovative passive design strategy which continuously induces ventilation (10 to 15 air changes per hour); a 20kW photovoltaic array incorporated into the structure which provides twice the required power for the facility [the Gateway's energy use is only 45% of a code compliant air-conditioned base case (14,600 kWh per year as-designed compared to 32,000 kWh per year for the code compliant base case), and the Gateway (excluding the lab) produces 2.5 times the energy it consumes (36,500 kWh per year produced compared to 14,600 kWh per year consumed)]; and incorporated a Deep Seawater cooling system which reduced energy consumption and maintenance for space cooling to the ultimate minimum.
Individuals benefit the production of energy a renewable source, which in turn reduces the amount of emmissions ( energy production) which could adversley affect their lives. Society benefits the development of new technologies, such as Deep Seawater cooling, which utilizes the ocean to produce cooling while reduce energy consumption. By proving that these innovative technologies are indeed viable, new investment will flow into the manufacture and marketing of these technologies with the goal of bringing them to market for public consumption. Environmental benefits include: extracting less resources to produce energy; more energy is produced via naturally occuring processes; and reduced emissions conventional energy production. In this instance, the Deep Seawater cooling technology is being applied to the entire NELHA campus. Because of this demonstrated application of the Deep Seawater cooling, new regional applications are being looked into.
By implementating innovative design strategies (passive thermal chimneys, Deep Seawater cooling) and alternative energy production methods (solar array), NELHA stands as an example for future developments in coastal areas. Additionally, by continually monitering the design innovations, further system refinement will benefit future applications. The design of the NEHLA building shows how the function of the mechanical system significantly informed the architecture.
The NEHLA center serves as a model for innovative design by providing an optimially conditioned workspace which increases productivity and occupant health, reducing energy consumption (in fact being a net-energy producer), and showcasing innovative systems and design features (thermal chimney, Deep Seawater cooling) that can be implementated in future developments. Due to the Deep Seawater cooling design innovation, no potable water is used for irrigation at NELHA, thus saving 1,702 gallons per day (compared to baseline calculations).
The NELHA center is a showcase building. Analysis of the innovative design features which have been implementated shows that NEHLA has a reduced impact on the environment, is a net-energy producer, is a public platform for the display of innovative design strategies, and provides for the continual refinement of systems which will improve their efficiency in future applications.
The integrated design process applied throughout development of the NELHA project has shown that this approach can be more effective in reducing energy consumption than implementing individual energy efficient technologies.