By Steve Rizer
The first public review period for a proposed new tool to rate the sustainability of schools in Hawaii has ended. The Hawaii CHPS (Collaborative for High-Performance Schools) Criteria (HI-CHPS) would create a standard for the design and construction of high-performance school buildings that is tailored to address the state’s unique climate and other factors. The proposed standard would be available for Hawaiian schools to use upon CHPS Board of Directors approval. Over the last five years, at least 10 states have developed CHPS rating systems for their schools.
The state’s unique climate posed the largest challenge for the Hawaii CHPS Advisory Committee’s work, including creating prerequisites and credits appropriate to the year-round temperatures, rain, wind patterns, and humidity of the islands, according to CHPS. The committee developed a new prerequisite for analyzing the site’s microclimate to inform design decisions. In addition, more distinct requirements, compliance pathways, and an extra credit, were developed for naturally ventilated and conditioned classrooms to ensure that air quality and comfort were equivalently valued and achieved compared to those mechanically ventilated and conditioned.
In addition to the climate challenges, there are also unique administrative characteristics to Hawaii, CHPS stated. “The state has only one public school district, which means district decision-making is a centralized process. As a result, requirements that fall under the purview of the district are found in a single, new category, District Planning, Operations and Maintenance, to clearly identify the responsibilities of the district.”
HI-CHPS is the first CHPS Criteria to have a prerequisite and credit for use of the CHPS Operations Report Card -- a program that allows schools to benchmark the performance of existing schools -- to ensure that the school is performing as intended 18 months after construction. The committee also developed entirely new credits not seen in any other state adaptation for electric vehicles, outdoor classrooms, tree protection and preservation, and culturally responsive designs.
The Advisory Committee consists of several stakeholders from local design, engineering, construction, and maintenance firms as well as representatives from the Hawaii Department of Education, which oversees all of the state’s public and charter schools; the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; and a local private school, Hawaii Preparatory Academy. The committee developed a CHPS Criteria to the unique codes and regulations, climates, opportunities, and local priorities of the state, the organization stated. The committee also sought to ensure that the spirit and stringency of the CHPS standard was upheld.
The Advisory Committee used the CHPS Core Criteria to develop Hawaii’s state-specific high-performance-building rating system. CHPS said it has identified three priorities of improving health and student performance, reducing operating costs, and mitigating environmental impacts, which are reflected in the Core Criteria. States then use the Core Criteria to build in state priorities, local climate and code issues, and other regional variations that make each state’s rating system unique. Of 11 states that have developed rating systems for their schools over the last five years, Hawaii is only the second to develop such a system since the CHPS Core Criteria was made available. The CHPS Board of Directors will decide whether HI-CHPS is consistent with the CHPS National Core Criteria.
HI-CHPS applies to the design and construction of new schools in addition to major modernizations and additions to existing school campuses. Schools that pursue recognition using HI-CHPS will be supported by CHPS throughout the design and construction process.
A CHPS spokesperson did not immediately respond to Green Building Insider’s request for additional details.