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Regenerative Building Design: Touring The Greenest Home I Know!

I was able to put together a tour of Aaron Ackerman’s home for friends who run Zero Waste O’ahu and Sustainable Coastlines, along with a visiting sustainable architect, Pawel Wolejsza from Poland who was on panel with me at our UN World Habitat Day Conference! Here is a little more on this regenerative home and you can also checkout my podcast with him back in 2019 (click here). Amazed at how much more he accomplished since 2019! Stay tuned as he is on his last stretch with his Living Building Challenge certifications! Checkout his site for more photos and details about his journey: LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE HAWAII.

Tour of Living Building Challenge Hawaii Home

The Haleola’ili’ainapono project by Bowers+Kubota represents a pioneering effort in sustainable architecture, embodying the principles of regenerative building design. In an era where our planet is grappling with the consequences of past exploitation and environmental degradation caused by traditional building and manufacturing practices, projects like this are essential for paving the way towards a more sustainable future.


The foundation of this project's philosophy, where the handprint (positive impact) exceeds the footprint (negative impact), serves as a beacon of hope for reversing the trends of environmental damage. By actively seeking to generate net-positive environmental, social, and economic results, the Haleola’ili’ainapono project exemplifies the essence of regenerative building design.

Green home hidden in Palolo

Particularly noteworthy is the project's connection to the land and its cultural significance in Hawaii. The endeavor seeks to restore a way of life that was once commonplace for the Hawaiian people – living 100% off the land with a deep knowledge and a profound responsibility to manage it for eternal perpetuity. This not only addresses the environmental aspect but also integrates cultural and social considerations into its design and purpose.


The choice of the Living Building Challenge Certification program, administered by the International Living Future Institute, underscores the commitment to the highest standards of green building practices. The dandelion as the institute's icon, symbolizing restorative structures and transformative change in our built environment, aligns perfectly with the project's objectives.


By aiming to become the first residence in the State of Hawaii to be Certified-Living by the International Living Future Institute, the project sets an ambitious standard for "green" buildings in the region. The focus on a 12-month performance period to prove net-zero performance in energy, water, and waste demonstrates the dedication to practical, real-world sustainability.

Pulley system that carries supplies up to the home.

Furthermore, the use of building materials extracted exclusively from Hawaii's reclaimed regional construction waste streams addresses not only sustainability but also waste management issues in the state. It serves as an innovative solution to recycle resources while developing a high-performance home for the future.


The project's commitment to operate net-zero on an annual basis, with 100% of its energy and water needs supplied by on-site renewable resources, is a testament to its sustainable design. Additionally, its resilience features, such as energy storage for preserving food during natural disasters resulting from climate change, showcase its forward-thinking approach to addressing the challenges of the future.

reused materials to build out this kitchen and home

The incorporation of biophilic design elements is a remarkable aspect of this project, creating spaces that foster a deep connection with nature. The inclusion of non-rhythmic sensory stimuli, natural ventilation, and passive cooling strategies not only enhances comfort but also promotes a harmonious relationship between inhabitants and the environment. The use of representations of water and dynamic natural light further strengthens this connection, providing an enriching architectural experience akin to an explorative nature hike.


In conclusion, the Haleola’ili’ainapono project is a shining example of regenerative building design that not only seeks to mitigate the environmental impact but also honors cultural heritage and demonstrates the potential for a sustainable, resilient, and inspiring way of living in harmony with nature.


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