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Saturday, September 12, 2015
DoE Outlines Heat abatement program at public schools
By News Release @ 12:53 AM :: 4961 Views :: Education K-12

Heat abatement program at public schools

News Release from Hawaii DoE September 10, 2015

The Department's heat abatement effort prioritizes schools that require cooling strategies, which may include air conditioning. We work with the Legislature to fast-track the schools that need relief most.

sun light

Solar lighting is being added to some schools to save electricity and cut down on heat.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Department is working with the Legislature to fast-track air conditioning projects and other heat-relief initiatives via its Heat Abatement Program, which falls under the state's Capital Improvement Projects​ budget.

Air conditioning isn't always the best option — many aging sc​hool facilities do not have the capacity to support it, nor can the state afford to install and run AC at all DOE schools statewide (see bullet points, below). The Department's facilities team analyzes each school and determines an approach that makes the most sense weighing all factors. Other cooling options include ceiling fans and building ventilation.

What are we doing now? 

Updated Sept. 10, 2015

HIDOE has been making moves to cool as many of the hottest classrooms it can.

  • HIDOE purchased 145 portable ACs for the hottest classrooms, with more on order.
  • Request to purchase up to 1,000 more with procurement exemption.​
  • AC projects that have been funded are expedited.
  • Electrical upgrades at 35 schools.
  • Because of the extreme heat this summer, HIDOE is allowing donations of new portable ACs with the understanding that these are temporary solutions and will not remain in the classrooms permanently​
  • Click to view updated AC-related project list across HIDOE [VIEW​]

Cost factors​

  • ​​Estimated cost of installing AC at all DOE schools: $1.7 billion. This figure is a snapshot of how much it would cost to install full-school AC systems like that at Pohakea Elementary, completed in 2010. This number will fall as a survey of HIDOE schools is completed to grasp how many classrooms/offices have AC now, and how many are still waiting for cooling retrofits (either heat abatement measures, below, or installed AC if needed).
  • Current annual electricity bill for HIDOE schools and facilities: $48 million. This amount would increase as high-energy AC systems are installed.

New schools will incorporate smart, efficient and modern design principles that take into account the natural environment and exploit ways to cool facilities using less energy. Ho'okele Elementary, which opened with School Year 2015-16, is an example.​

Air conditioning at schools

Following are lists of where AC has been identified as a priority (in order of priority) and the status of roll out at schools previously on the list. We encourage the public to add their feedback​ about heat abatement at their community schools: Please email

Updates for 2015-16

AC Priority List

  1. Ewa Beach Elementary ​(electrical upgrade to be completed 2015 before ac can be installed)
  2. Ilima Intermediate (part of heat abatement study/ temporary portable ACs being installed, heat reflective roof system, night heat flushing)
  3. Campbell High (PV/AC to be added to 1 portable through student crowd-funding project; part of study, 15 new portable classrooms with ACs being built, part of heat abatement study/ temporary portable ACs being installed, heat reflective roof system, night heat flushing​)
  4. Aikahi Elementary
  5. Kaimiloa Elementary (part of heat abatement study/ temporary portable ACs being installed, heat reflective roof system, night heat flushing)
  6. Nimitz Elementary
  7. Mokulele Elementary
  8. Pearl Harbor-Kai Elementary​

Schools previo​​usly on priority list (year removed)

  • Maili Elementary (2002)
  • Kihei Elementary (2007)
  • Kamehameha III Elementary (2010)
  • Lokelani Intermediate (2015 phase 2)
  • Pohakea Elementary (2012)
  • Hickam El​​ementary (2014)

Schools with central AC

  • Ewa Makai Middle (incl. cafeteria)
  • Hickam Elementary​
  • Holomua Elementary
  • Hookele Elementary (incl. cafeteria)
  • Iroquois Point Elementary​​
  • Kamalii Elementary
  • Kamehameha III Elementary
  • Kapolei Elementary
  • Kapolei Middle​
  • Kapolei High
  • Keaau Elementary
  • Keoneula Elementary
  • Kihei Elementary
  • Lokelani Intermediate (to be completed 2015)
  • Maili Elementary (incl. cafeteria)
  • Mililani Ike Elementary
  • Mililani Middle
  • Mililani Mauka Elementary
  • Pohakea Elementary
  • Pomakai Elementary
  • Pu'u Kukui Elementary
Heat abatement analysis

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing heat in schools, but there is a process that's informed by data to reduce heat in schools in the most effective and systematic way. The goal is to reduce classroom temperature to a 76-degree set point via accumulated improvements (options laid out below). For classrooms where these efforts don't bring down the temperature sufficiently, A/C and supplemental cooling is planned. Learn more in our 2015 Energy Systems Study​.

Heat abatement options

These are vents that enable hot air to be vented out of classrooms allowing cooler air to come in. Since hot air rises, most of these are installed either on roofs or high up on walls or windows. Additional benefits is that these are powered by the sun and do not need electricity.

  • Hokulani Elementary
  • Jarrett Middle
  • Kailua Intermediate (kitchen)
  • Kaiulani (kitchen)
  • Kalani High
  • Kamiloiki (solar wall vents)
  • Kuhio Elementary
  • Lunalilo (solar wall vents)
  • Molokai High
  • Noelani
  • Niu Valley (shop building)
  • Washington Middle

Additionally, timing this ventilation at night to reduce starting temperatures in the morning — known as nightly thermal flushing — can reduce daytime classroom temperatures by 4 to 6 degrees.

The Department piloted an air conditioning project to cool a portable at Waianae High School. The unit is powered by photovoltaics like that on many homes. This allows for the unit to be capable of generating its own electricity. Two more will be installed on portables at Campbell High School through a crowd-funded program led by high school students.

These are essentially high efficiency skylights that allow light into the classrooms without the heat generated by electric lights. In many cases, on sunny days, you don't need to turn on any lights.

  • Kaimuki High (including portables)
  • Ewa Makai
  • Hookele Elementary​

Since 2005, the Facilities team has increased the insulation in roofs and walls to reduce the amount of heat gain in DOE buildings, helping to reduce the temperature inside our classrooms. These improvements were done in conjunction with needed repairs such as reroofing an existing building.

As part of a Race to the Top-funded facilities effort in the
Zones of School Innovation​, ceiling fan installation was targeted for classrooms that (1) were not already air conditioned, (2) did not already have ceiling fans and (3) are used for student instruction.

Leeward District

  • Nanakuli Elementary: 8 classrooms
  • Nanakuli High & Inter: 41 classrooms
  • Waianae Elementary: 2 classrooms
  • Waianae Intermediate: 42 classrooms
  • Waianae High: 57 classrooms
  • Makaha Elementary: 43 classrooms
  • Leihoku Elementary: 5 classrooms
  • Kamaile Charter School: 29 classrooms

Hawaii Island

  • Kau High & Elementary: 7 classrooms
  • Keonepoko Elementary: 20 classrooms
  • Pahoa Elementary: 37 classrooms
  • Keaau Middle: 16 classrooms
  • Pahoa High & Intermediate: 59 classrooms
  • Mountain View Elementary: 14 classrooms
  • Naalehu Elementary: 21 classrooms

By painting roofs with heat reflective fluid roof coating system instead of the basic black or gray materials, a temperature reduction of up to 5 degrees is possible. This system includes solar reflective properties and sometimes additional layers of insulation material to help reduce heat transferring into the classroom. This is more than a change in coloring for the roof. It has specific properties to minimize the impact of direct sunlight.​

Another option is to start the school year later. The school year typically starts at the beginning of August. By law (Act 167), the school year must include 180 student instructional days. Under HIDOE's contract with teachers:

  • ​Half of all student instructional days must come before winter break
  • School must end before Kamehameha Day (June 11)

We will continue to work with unions, the Board of Education and the Legislature on this pressing issue.

Key Questions​​

  *   *   *   *   *


News Release from Office of the Governor, Sept 11, 2015

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is teaming up with Hawaii 3R’s to raise funds towards cooling schools. Hawaii 3R’s is a local nonprofit organization aimed to Repair, Remodel, Restore Hawaii’s public schools.

HIDOE has been working on long-term solutions to cool classrooms that lack air conditioning units. However, the record-breaking temperatures have caused extreme conditions in classrooms and the Department is purchasing temporary solutions such as portable AC units and fans.

Hawaii 3R’s is providing a venue to allow for donations to this cause.

“This year’s heat has been unbearable for many across the state, especially in classrooms that are without cooling units,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re very grateful to all who have made donations to their schools and have expressed the desire to help. This partnership with Hawaii 3R’s provides an opportunity to donate funds so that schools can make the purchases that fit their immediate needs to cool classrooms.”

Hawaii 3R’s is accepting monetary donations to reimburse schools who purchase fans and other heat-relief items. To learn more visit:

HIDOE recently requested an exemption to state procurement rules to make an emergency purchase of up to 250 portable AC units to place in high priority classrooms for heat-relief.

According to the National Weather Service, high temperatures and humidity this summer have produced about 50 high temperature records.

· FACT SHEET: Heat Abatement: You Can Help:
· FACT SHEET: Cooling Schools:



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