Green Light: Hawaii’s Next Steps Toward Sustainable Energy

A new utilities program sponsored by the Public Utilities Commission will provide cash incentives to homeowners who install battery energy storage systems to new or existing solar power systems— on the condition that they allow Hawiian electric to access and use the stored power during the hours of 5 and 9 p.m.

Proponents of the program hope it will help prevent a power shortage after the planned closure of a coal-fired power plant in 2022.

Homeowners can get an immediate upfront payment from Hawiian Electric on the condition that they allow Hawaiian Electric to access their stored battery power for two hours a day for 10 years.

However, installing a solar power system requires a building permit from the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, so homeowners need to act quickly if they hope to get the necessary permits in a timely fashion.

The solar power initiative is one of the many ways both the Hawaiian government and many developers are  attempting to increase sustainable construction practices while protecting economic growth.

Potential homeowners can also limit their carbon footprint during their construction by working with sustainability-minded architects and builders with experience in green construction. And this means going far beyond installing solar panels on the roof. (Although that’s always a great, and financially savvy place to start!)

For example, architects can design a home that requires minimal external heating and cooling elements based on how they orient windows and doors, take advantage of natural light, and use the surrounding landscape to shade homes from excess light and heat.

Builders can swap out traditional insulation for high-quality alternatives that do more to regulate the temperature of the home. And as more alternative forms of insulation become mainstream—think recycled cotton and wool instead of the standard fiberglass foam—insulating a home can be environmentally friendly from start to finish. 

Limiting the amount of impermeable surfaces on a property can help prevent flooding and erosion, and home and landscape design that includes rain-water disbursement can also reduce water use and energy costs over time. 

Whether changes to the construction industry are mandated by legislation or simply become a better alternative to traditional practice, residential construction in Hawaii continues to go “green” in order to better achieve sustainability. 

So if you’re hoping to navigate the permit process in time to benefit from energy incentives for homeowners utilizing solar panels, or want to build a climate-friendly home from start to finish, let the team at Home Planning Hawaii help you find the right professionals and resources for your needs. Contact us today for more information, and don’t forget to try out our free online estimator to get started on the budget for your next project!

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