“Keeping the Past Present”, NRCA’s Professional Roofing Magazine Special Feature on JCCH

The NRCA’s Professional Roofing Magazine recently released in their February issue, a fantastic article on the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i and their decision to “go green” as a means to sustaining their legacy and impact in the community here in the islands.

The original article can be found on the NRCA’s website here.

Keeping the past present

Solar technology at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i renews a legacy

by Chrystine Elle Hanus

The seeds of planning the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i (JCCH) in Honolulu were sown more than two generations ago. Minds and hearts of first- and second-generation Japanese immigrants sought to honor their heritage, embrace diversity and welcome the future.

During the Kanyaku Imin celebration in February 1985, which celebrated 125 years of Japanese living in Hawaii, emotions generated by the event spurred devotion of major Japanese groups in the community to conceptualize the JCCH.

In 1986, Honolulu’s Japanese Chamber of Commerce initiated the Japan-Hawaii cultural center project and called it “The Dream.” The Dream would be a legacy where future members of the community could look back and be fully conscious of their roots. The center also would foster relations by promoting harmony and mutual understanding among Japan, Hawaii and the U.S.

On May 28, 1987, The Dream was realized and JCCH was incorporated under Hawaiian laws as a nonprofit organization to develop, own, maintain and operate a Japanese cultural center. Through the years, the organization has worked to strengthen its diverse community by educating present and future generations in the evolving Japanese-American experience in Hawaii.

Currently, the cultural center has more than 4,800 members and annually connects to more than 30,000 residents and visitors through its programs and events. It features a historical museum, exhibition gallery, library, archive center, teahouse and gift shop.

Dream, interrupted

In 2010, an aging roof system and rising utility expenses threatened the organization. Currently, Hawaii has the U.S.’ highest electricity costs. According to Ted Peck, Hawaii’s former state energy administrator, the statewide average is 36 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared with the nationwide average of 13 cents per kWh. The island is 90 percent dependent on fossil fuels, and 75 percent of the island’s electrical power comes from imported oil.

Hawaii recently set a goal of generating 70 percent of its power from clean energy sources by 2030. As Hawaii enters the early stages of what many hope is an energy revolution, companies on the island are turning to solar platforms for energy and taking advantage of tax credits.

But as a nonprofit institution, JCCH does not qualify for tax incentives.

“We faced several challenges before making a decision to move forward with a new roof,” says Lenny Yajima Andrew, president and executive director of JCCH. “As a nonprofit institution, the cultural center could not take advantage of the energy tax incentives that normally are available to other businesses and residents, which initially meant higher costs we weren’t sure we could afford.”

Photos courtesy of GreenPath Technologies Inc., Honolulu 

The cultural center’s new PV roof system is estimated to generate about 160,669 kWh of electricity during the first year.

Through its personal relationship with JCCH, Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii Inc., Honolulu, was asked to repair the cultural center’s aging roof system and provide information about whether a photovoltaic (PV) roof system would benefit the organization.

According to Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii’s president and chief executive officer, Guy Akasaki, JCCH faced three distinct problems: inability to take advantage of tax incentives; limited capital; and a lack of a service provider to provide a unified solution for all project elements.

Partnering with GreenPath Technologies Inc., Honolulu, a solar power systems contractor, JCCH found a financial solution it could afford.

GreenPath Technologies helped JCCH create a solar strategy and assisted with the project’s financing via a 100 percent Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) through APB Energy Hawai’i LLC, Honolulu. The PPA also allowed JCCH to secure a below-market kWh rate.

“We are pleased to have been able to assist one of the most influential nonprofit cultural institutions in the state,”says Briand Achong, president of GreenPath Technologies.

Dream weaving

Having successfully secured financing with zero upfront cost through the financial arrangement, The Dream’s board of directors gave the approval for work on its new photovoltaic roof system to commence in February 2010.

Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii applied Hydro-Stop’s PremiumCoat® to the existing 22,000-square-foot roof system. The existing roof consisted of a wood deck, tapered insulation and polymer-modified bitumen membrane. Precautions were taken to carry and transport materials across the roof deck, and perimeter warning flags were implemented in addition to harnesses and lanyards.

The cultural center’s new PV roof system is estimated to generate about 160,669 kWh of electricity during the first year.

Next, a crew of six installed 434 Sharp® NU-U235F1 PV panels. The 102-kilowatt (kW) installation was mounted on a SunLink® racking system with a five-degree tilt connected to a 100-kW AC Satcon® PowerGate® Plus PV inverter and online comprehensive data monitoring system from National Semiconductor™ Corp., now Texas Instruments Inc.

Dreaming in green

The cultural center’s new PV system is estimated to generate about 160,669 kWh of electricity during the first year, offsetting about 12 percent of the building’s annual electricity consumption. The Hydro-Stop PremiumCoat system has a 20-year warranty and is ENERGY STAR®-certified, which is estimated to save an additional $3,674 per year, as well as minimize heat transference into the building by reducing the surface temperature of the roof from 140 F to about 90 F.

“It was rewarding to provide a one-stop warranty for the new roof and PV system,” Akasaki says.

In addition, the PV system is estimated to save about 30 percent in electricity costs during the 20-year PPA term without the risks of ownership, operation and replacement.

Akasaki says: “It was satisfying to help this prestigious and important cultural institution secure lower energy and operating costs during the next 20 years while sheltering it from the unpredictable rising electrical rates.”

The JCCH has become a symbol of renewed strength for Hawaii. As the organization approaches its 25-year anniversary, it looks forward to celebrating and continuing to play a crucial role in perpetuating the community’s cultural heritage inherited from its forefathers into the lifestyles and values of its children.

Chrystine Elle Hanus is Professional Roofing‘s associate editor and NRCA’s director of communications.


Project name: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i
Project location: Honolulu
Project duration: February 2010 – January 2011
Roof system types: Fluid-applied, reinforced acrylic membrane; photovoltaic
Roofing contractors: Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii Inc., Honolulu; GreenPath Technologies Inc., Honolulu
Product manufacturers: Hydro-Stop, Charleston, S.C.; National Semiconductor Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.; Satcon Technology Corp., Boston; Sharp Electronics Corp., Mahwah, N.J.; and SunLink Corp., San Rafael, Calif.






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