Is DOE on track to meet a goal to cool Hawaii schools?

Local News

When the weather gets hot that means classrooms around the state will start to heat up leaving teachers and students struggling to get through the day.

Now with the days getting hotter, KHON2 wanted to know if the Department of Education has made any progress in cooling classrooms.

The DOE says it’s working to accomplish Governor Ige’s goal of installing air conditioning units in 1,000 classrooms by the end of the year.

The assessment and review phases of the project has been completed.

The final design phase is now underway.

According to the DOE, it had planned for the air conditioning units to undergo final inspections and project acceptance sometime between November 30 to December 31, 2016.

But based on the DOE’s revised schedule, final inspections and project acceptance has been pushed back to January 11 to February 8, 2017.

KHON2 has also learned more than 350 portable classrooms are covered in heat reflective material, 137 classrooms now have ceiling fans and the DOE has bought more than 400 portable AC’s to cool the state’s hottest classrooms.

The DOE says it will cost an estimated $1.7 billion to add AC at all schools, but could there be a cheaper way to keep classrooms cool?

“I think that solar is going to play a very important part in powering schools both in terms of air conditioning and in terms of basic power needs,” said Colin Yost with RevoluSun.

That is what the DOE is looking into as they plan to install 33 solar hybrid air conditioning units at Kaunakakai and Kilohana elementary schools on Moloka’i this week.

So how will these new units work?

“The new solar AC technology uses the traditional solar panels, but also combines new technologies with an air conditioning unit that is specifically designed to work with solar,” said Yost.

The DOE is working with the legislature to fast-track air conditioning projects and other heat-relief initiatives. But a delay in funding could result in project delays.

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