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Feb 03, 2015

LEED A Hawaiian Way of Life

For Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a cultural consultant for Ward Village and a descendent of the Kaka'ako area, living according to Native Hawaiian values is important to strive for.

Including a deep respect and care for water and land, Hawaiian philosophy still rings true today. "In traditional Hawaiian concept and philosophy, every effort was made to make land productive," Wong-Kalu says. "Hawaiians developed some of the most resourceful and sophisticated of land use and management amongst the larger Polynesian populations in the Pacific."

A contemporary counterpart of this value system is LEED certification, earned by developments that prioritize sustainability and respect for their surroundings. In Hawai'i, Howard Hughes is pioneering sustainable living with Ward Village, the largest LEED platinum-certified master-planned neighborhood in the nation. Ward Village's new condos in Honolulu will provide a range of homes from workforce, to market rate, to luxury. They will be part of a neighborhood at the forefront of architecture and sustainable living in the islands, an urban evolution of respect for the land and natural resources.

LEED certification and traditional Hawaiian values overlap in a number of ways. Learn more about three such ways below:

E Malama i ka wai: caring for and conserving water

Hawaiian context: In Hawaiian, wai means water, and waiwai means wealth. Water was of ultimate importance to the nearly one million Hawaiians who were living on the islands when Western explorers arrived in the late 18th century, and it was the heart of the population's agricultural and land division systems. Access, usage, and management were governed by community. Says Wong-Kalu, "When water was to be had, all kinds of things to sustain life and living could be cultivated on the land. Where there is an oasis of life, there are people."

LEED context: Water is of top priority when it comes to designing the community and living spaces. Ward Village met the most stringent water- and energy-savings requirements, which protect water supply and help residents reduce their water consumption (and, coincidentally, lowers utility bills). Methods include utilizing high-performance, water-saving fixtures like dual-flush toilets. The less water consumed, the more water in Hawai'i's aquifer, which naturally produces some of the cleanest water in the world.

Malama ‘aina: caring for the land

Hawaiian historical context: Historically, Hawaiians buried the umbilical cord and placenta on ancestral family lands in order to maintain their connection to the land. The land, after all, was an investment of heart and soul. "Malama 'aina also comes with the larger understanding of caring for the environment, all lands and natural resources, and the atmosphere as well. Hawaiians did not 'own' land," says Wong-Kalu. "Land was and is for all to care for and make fruitful."

Contemporary context: Malama 'aina means to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It means keeping beaches, streams, lands, and resources clean and free of pollutants. Often, malama 'aina also means developing only in urban areas, keeping the country less-developed and prioritized for agriculture and families living off the land.

LEED context: Ward Village is a high-density neighborhood at the core of urban Honolulu, which means convenient living for residents, as well as less development of rural regions of O'ahu. The neighborhood's LEED certification requires energy-efficient appliances and design, which reduces the consumption of imported oil and the creation of CO2 emissions, making for a healthier environment and land. Finally, when it comes to landscaping, LEED prioritizes the use of native plants, drought-tolerant plants, and low-impact stormwater design. This is important because stormwater runoff is one of the ocean's top pollutants. Such design absorbs runoff and also acts as a filter, reducing the flow of polluted water.

Malama Ola Kino: caring for the health and wellness of the body

Hawaiian context: Hawaiians of old walked miles on end, built their own canoes that they used to navigate waters, and spent long hours pounding fabric for clothes as well as maintaining crops. This made for a very hearty, fit people. The saying, "Pali e ke kua, mahina e ke alo," Wong-Kalu explains, "means that "the kua (back) is straight and tall and durable like the pali (cliffs) of a mountain, and the alo (face, front side, countenance) is bright and shining like a mahina (moon)."

LEED context: LEED certification requires avenues for environmentally friendly modes of transportation (biking and walking instead of driving), encouraging better fitness. It also prioritizes the health of residents in other ways, including integrating larger open spaces and improved circulation in buildings, making for fresh air beyond code minimums. By living in a neighborhood that clearly prioritizes the wellbeing of its community and land, residents can take part in the values of a Hawaiian way of life.

Learn more about Ward Village's LEED certification.

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