Case Study: Kahauiki Village - A Sustainable Beacon in Honolulu, Hawaii


Nestled in the heart of Honolulu, Hawaii, the Kahauiki Village project stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. In 2018, PhotonWorks, a passionate design-build general contractor with expertise in electrical and energy projects, took the lead to install an innovative clean energy system in Kahauiki Village. This affordable housing complex is designed to provide hope, opportunity, and a self-sustaining future for families who have previously lived in transitional housing.

Empowering a Community:

Kahauiki Village was made possible by the collective effort of over 75 local businesses, individuals, and organizations. The village is set to become a home for 153 families who have long struggled to find stable living conditions. Furthermore, the project offers vital amenities like child care, preschool facilities, and employment opportunities to its residents, enabling them to achieve financial independence. The unique aspect of this development is the groundbreaking clean energy system that fuels it, a first of its kind globally.

Sustainable Housing for All:

Kahauiki Village homes are prefabricated, steel-framed structures, originally manufactured by Japan's System House for emergency housing post the 2011 tsunami. The one- and two-bedroom units are available for rent at remarkably affordable rates, starting at $725 and $900 per month, which includes utilities such as gas, electricity, and water – a fraction of the market rate. The residents enjoy fully-equipped kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor fire pits, vegetable gardens, communal laundry facilities, a childcare center, and various other on-site services.

Solar Energy Transforms Kahauiki:

PhotonWorks, in collaboration with InSynergy Engineering, designed and implemented a microgrid and energy storage facility that enables Kahauiki Village to operate almost entirely off the grid. Solar thermal systems, supplemented with propane backup, were installed at each residence. Phase 1 of the project featured 30 units, including two-bedroom units and duplexes, with plans for an additional 120 units in Phase 2.

Project Summary:

  • Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Application: Solar water heating for affordable housing complex (Comprising 153 units)
  • Solar Collectors: SunEarth EP-40 & SunEarth SB-32
  • System Format: Solar pre-heated water for tenant’s water heaters

System Details:

Two-bedroom system:

  • Solar Collectors: (1) SunEarth EP-40 Collector
  • Storage: (1) SunEarth 80-gallon EC80-6 & (1) AO Smith 30-gallon LT PreMax
  • Rated Power Output: 2.66 kW
  • Yearly Energy Output (kWh): 2,524.73 kWh (per system)

Duplex system:

  • Solar Collectors: (2) SunEarth SB-32 Collectors
  • Storage: (1) SunEarth 120-gallon SE120-6 & (1) AO Smith 40-gallon LT PreMax
  • Rated Power Output: 4.28 kW
  • Yearly Energy Output (kWh): 4,062.34 kWh (per system)

Laundromat system:

  • Solar Collectors: (3) SunEarth EP-40 Collectors
  • Storage: (2) SunEarth 120-gallon SE120-6 & (2) AO Smith 40-gallon LT PreMax
  • Rated Power Output: 7.98 kW
  • Yearly Energy Output (kWh): 7,574.18 kWh (per system)

Building a Sustainable Legacy:

Kahauiki Village is a beacon of hope and sustainability for the people of Honolulu, Hawaii. This community project, driven by the spirit of collaboration and compassion, not only provides affordable housing but also offers residents the opportunity to lead self-sufficient lives. The innovative clean energy system powered by solar thermal technology is a model for sustainable urban development, setting a shining example for communities around the world.

Contact Information:

By uniting resources and energy-efficient technology, Kahauiki Village illustrates the positive impact communities can make when they come together. It stands as a beacon of sustainability, providing affordable housing and a pathway to self-sufficiency for its residents.

   Kahauiki Village Project SB-32 Collectors   Kahauiki Village Project Solar Water Heating   Kahauiki Village Project EP-40 Collectors

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