Hawaii’s Kunia Country Farms Receives Envision Gold
Hawaii’s Kunia Country Farms project was awarded the Envision Gold award. The previous 17 Envision awards were given to public projects throughout the country, making the Kunia Country Farms project the first private corporation, and first entity in the state of Hawaii, to receive Envision sustainability recognition.
Kunia Country Farms (KCF) is one of the largest commercial aquaponics farms and producers of leafy greens in Hawaii. KCF project sustainably grows local produce in a manner that minimizes resources, achieves economic sustainability and helps reduce Hawaii’s food dependence on imports. Kunia Country Farms has become a main supplier of aquaponic lettuce to the islands’ supermarkets and high-end restaurants. The KCF project focuses on the development and implementation of Zero Impact Farming, which minimizes water and electricity use, soil degradation, pollution and other environmental economies, and maximizes land efficiency, labor efficiency, and the production process.
“Sustainable infrastructure comes in all shapes and sizes, and ISI is proud to recognize Kunia Country Farms for its contribution to the local community, environment, and economy” said ISI President and CEO, William Bertera. “Infrastructure serves the community, whether it is publicly owned or privately owned, and this project highlights the impact of the sustainability of privately owned infrastructure on the community.”
“The farm is designed to provide locally grown produce using sustainable techniques and practices, helping Hawaii achieve food independence from imports,” said Jason Brand, KCF owner and president of the Brand Industrial Group, Inc., which maintains active equity positions in sustainable farming and production ventures (including KCF) in Hawaii. “It is humbling to know that our efforts are having a positive impact on our community.”
KCFs sustainability achievements caught the attention of Blue Ocean Civil Consulting (BOCC), who nominated the project for assessment in the Envision rating system. “KCF took industry-transforming risks, and we were inspired by their innovation and commitment to sustainability and resiliency,” stated BOCC principal engineer Amber Takenouchi. “Envision verification provides a credible and independent means to measure the project’s sustainability successes and will further the KCF, BOCC and TEACHawaii missions.”
The Envision Action Committee of Hawaii (TEACHawaii) is exploring the potential implementation of Envision in Hawaii by educating people about the sustainability rating system. Member outreach, the TEACHawaii August 29 workshop, and the KCF Envision award will highlight the application of Envision to planning and engineering sustainable infrastructure throughout Hawaii and serve as a call to action. “The Envision rating system is a multi-tool with potential use in a wide variety of projects,” said TEACHawaii member Jon Young. “All projects – especially our public infrastructure projects, could use a greater focus on transparency, collaborative ingenuity, environmental responsibility, and resiliency. Envision promotes a streamlined navigation of sustainability goals.”
The Envision categories with the highest scores for the Kunia Country Farms project include:
Quality of Life (QL): The KCF project contributes to community attractiveness for both business and residents. New jobs are created and complimented by educational outreach and a commitment to hire locally. The local production of foods provided supply stability for the restaurant and supermarket industries.
Leadership (LD): Kunia Country Farms is committed to supporting sustainable practices and is a pioneer of commercial aquaponics technology in the region. The project team identified by-product synergies to minimize wastes at the community scale, such as repurposing shipping pallets for garden beds to save virgin materials. The leadership set aside resources to support long term monitoring and maintenance.
Resource Allocation (RA): The farm’s solar panels generate 100% of the project’s energy needs. The project also takes advantage of captured stormwater, water recycling, and water efficient practices to reduce the potable water use by more than 75% over industry norms.
Natural World (NW): The project was designed to integrate with the natural world to preserve prime habitat, restore farmland and also protect wetlands and surface water. The impacts of pesticides and fertilizers are reduced and measures were taken to prevent surface and groundwater contamination.
Climate and Risk (CR): The project team assessed the threat of climate change and developed an adaptation plan. They address short-term hazards, long-term adaptability, and other vulnerabilities.