Punahou School is committed to incorporating sustainable practices into its institutional policies and actions whenever possible. Through these practices, the School strives to:

  • support the administration's sustainability challenges 
  • model sustainable behavior change for students, schools and the community
  • provide hands-on opportunities for learning

Areas of Focus


Photovoltaic Panels

Punahou installed photovoltaic panels on five existing buildings and all available roof surface in the new Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood to transition to PV-generated energy. After projects in 2008 and 2010, PV-generated energy increased from 0% to 12% of power requirements.

Energy-Efficient Systems

In 2008, the Flanders Dance Pavilion was built with energy-efficient systems, including a solar power light system and large fan natural cooling system. The same fan system was installed in a renovation of Hemmeter Fieldhouse, along with energy-efficient lighting. Lighting fixtures across campus have been changed out for energy-efficient bulbs, and a major refitting of the lighting system in Dillingham Hall reduced energy demands.

In 2009, the cafeteria purchased a new commercial dishwasher that uses 33% less energy, and procurement policies for the school now scrutinize Energy Star ratings for all new purchases.

In 2008, the IT department virtualized servers, reducing their energy use by 45%, and technology settings on campus computers have an automatic shut down feature to conserve energy.

LEED Design Standards

In 2011, the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood was awarded Platinum LEED certification in recognition of the extensive sustainable features built into the complex, which was completed in 2010. Energy-related features include photovoltaic panels, energy-efficient lighting and cooling systems and design.


Cafeteria and Student Choices

The cafeteria is purchasing more local food, including lettuce and beef, and entrees are prepared from scratch. Salad bars were installed at all grade levels. In both the cafeteria and snack bar, sodas are no longer available and junk food snacks were replaced with healthier options including fresh fruit. Vending machine selections were upgraded to healthier choices.

Grow Hawai`i Challenge

Punahou is a participating member in Grow Hawai`i, an interschool collaboration addressing the need for sustainable, locally grown food by engaging students in exploration, experimentation and problem-based learning.


Campus Traffic Flow Changes

Changes were put in place to improve reduce idling and speed up transitions through campus, including the construction of a new entrance path, which bypasses the busy K – 1 dropoff/pickup area.

Alternate Transportation Programs

Pilot programs including bus pass subsidy and Carpool Day were initiated, though not adopted on a permanent basis due to low realized impact. Also, campus parking was decreased by almost 30 spaces.


Facilities and Construction Waste Recycling

All green waste is recycled on campus, and all metal waste is sorted and recycled with Schnitzer Steel. All asphalt removed during roadwork on campus is recycled. During the renovation of Hemmeter Fieldhouse in 2007, all of the old flooring and bleachers were recycled by Re-Use Hawaii.

Individual Recycling

A consistent recycling system with separate bins for bottles/cans and paper was installed in all classrooms and work areas, to encourage student, faculty and staff participation. Bins were also placed in easily accessible exterior locations around campus.

Paper Product Alternatives

The Visual Production Center (VPC) has switched to ordering sugar cane paper, made from bagasse (reclaimed agricultural waste) and found a number of recycling options for paper, including providing worm bin bedding and note pads from one-sided prints. A number of school publications are now available only electronically, reducing printed copies. This includes the Summer School Catalog, Faculty/Staff Directory and Co-Curricular Catalog.

Single-use Alternatives

In 2011, three new water fountains designed for refillable bottles were installed on campus to discourage the purchase of single-use plastics. In December 2011, a Flo Water dispenser for filtered, chilled water offered an additional option to purchasing water in plastic bottles. In 2008, the cafeteria installed milk dispensers, eliminating the use of 675 small milk cartons per day, and classrooms, departments and the PFA promote the use of reusable dishes at events.


Landscaping and Irrigation

With the Lily Pond recapture system and underground water storage tanks installed at Punahou's Case Middle School, grounds staff leverages the school's natural water source for campus irrigation. A commitment was made to the use of native plant landscaping, requiring up to 50% less irrigation, and grounds staff has realigned all sprinkling schedules to evening hours to reduce evaporation.

Water-efficient Fixtures and Equipment

Punahou has systematically replaced low-efficiency toilets and sinks across campus with waterless urinals, low flush toilets and water-efficient sinks. In 2009, the cafeteria purchased a new commercial dishwasher which uses 50% less water than the old machine. In 2010, shower timers were installed in the pool area and locker rooms to increase awareness of shower durations. Additionally, showerheads were swapped out in the PE complex with restricted flow showerheads.

Green Building Design / LEED

As Punahou School continues to build new facilities, it also continues to look for new ways to utilize sustainable design and construction.

One way is by seeking voluntary LEED certification of new buildings through the United States Green Building Council. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across:

  • energy savings
  • water efficiency
  • CO2 emissions reduction
  • indoor environmental quality
  • stewardship of resources

Evaluated at the end of construction, Case Middle School achieved LEED Gold certification (the second highest rating) in 2005. Punahou later achieved LEED Platinum certification (the highest rating) in 2010 for the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood.