The Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Energy Lab is a model for sustainable buildings and a place where young people can alter the paradigm of thinking to a world of sustained abundance
While most of us are aware of the environmental issues the world is facing, it is easy to feel powerless in the face of such an enormous problem. We try to do our bit by sorting plastic bottles from cans or by taking shorter showers, but with our houses still powered by atmosphere-polluting power plants and our cars powered by thick, black oil, it is hard to fathom the idea of a truly sustainable way of life on a world scale.
For students at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, sustainable living is a reality. Thanks to the construction of The Energy Lab, a zeronet- energy, fully sustainable learning facility that was opened at the beginning of 2010, for them, environmental education has gone from ideological to practical.
Designed by Boston-based Flansburgh Architects, students also played a major role in the construction process, meeting with energy experts and other players to bring the project to fruition. Dr Bill Wiecking is the director of The Energy Lab, a science teacher and a physicist with a doctorate in neuroscience. ‘The process,’ he says, ‘ of seeing a problem, envisioning a solution and bringing it to reality has far more impact for our students than just a building: they see that creative, thoughtful people can work together to create something beyond their initial vision.’