AC installation for dorm moves forward

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Students walk to and from Hale 'Alahonua in 2017 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo The University of Hawaii at Hilo's Hale 'Alahonua residence hall.

The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s newest dormitory, Hale ‘Alahonua, is closer to being cooler with the upcoming installation of an air conditioning system.

Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza said the bid for contracts opened in June and final bids were submitted.

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The university now is in the “contracts phase” with the identified contractor.

While the low bidder has been identified, Rapoza said that because the contract has not yet been executed, he could not say who was awarded the bid or the total cost of the project.

“Construction will begin as soon as the construction contract is executed, and if that process moves smoothly, then construction will begin in August,” he said. The work is anticipated to take 16 months.

Hale ‘Alahonua has struggled to reach capacity since it opened in fall 2013 and officials have previously said ventilation has been a problem in the residential hall.

Preliminary counts reported by the Tribune-Herald last September showed 189 student residents in the dormitory, a 63% occupancy rate.

“The project is important because it allows UH-Hilo to address student concerns about room temperatures in Hale ‘Alahonua while mitigating our impact and carbon footprint,” Rapoza said.

According to Rapoza, the project will provide a new air conditioning system for 304 bedrooms and two ground floor lounge areas.

Additionally, 945 solar panels, both ground and roof mounted, will be installed to offset the increased energy use, “with the goal of a net zero energy impact to the campus.”

Legislators previously appropriated a total of $6 million to help address air conditioning in the dormitory.

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Rapoza said funding for the project will not come solely from that $6 million, but will also include funds appropriated for capital improvements.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.