U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun

Solar Decathlon 2011

University of Hawaii

Hale Pilihonua

On June 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy received formal notification from the University of Hawaii of its withdrawal from Solar Decathlon 2011.

Designed to address residential needs in Hawaii's tropical climate, the University of Hawaii's semi-monocoque house, named Hale Pilihonua, is a sustainable and affordable solution for middle-income homebuyers.

The shell, or semi-monocoque, structure is:

  • Made of bio-based, fiber-reinforced polymer

  • Strong and lightweight

  • A tight, well-insulated thermal envelope

  • Resistant to damage from corrosion, termites, rot, and floods, which are common in tropical environments

  • Highly buoyant and able to float in the event of flooding

  • Insulated with Low-E glass to reduce heat loss at night.

The house's exterior structure consists of louvers that provide daytime shading, water-cooled photovoltaics that harvest energy, and solar thermal collectors for hot water. Additional sustainable innovations featured in Hale Pilihonua include phase-change material for thermal storage, intelligent occupancy sensing, and energy-conserving lighting controls and entertainment. The functional nature of Hale Pilihonua is demonstrated by an integrated aquaponics system that both enhances the atmosphere and supports sustainable food production.


David Rockwood
School of Architecture, Room 301A
University of Hawaii at Manoa
2410 Campus Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: 808-956-8430

Photo of a group of people standing on a balcony. In the background is a cityscape, a mountain, and palm trees Enlarge image

The University of Hawaii Solar Decathlon team (courtesy of the University of Hawaii Solar Decathlon team).

A computer-animated preview of the University of Hawaii's design concept, created December 2010 (see the text version of this video).

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