Castle & Cooke, a longtime housing developer in Hawaii, is starting a new, sustainable era in residential development. “Embracing sustainability is the right thing to do in our industry, in more ways than one,” says Doug Pearson, Castle & Cooke’s vice president of construction. “People move here for our homes. We need to be keeping up with the market and our buyer’s needs.”

Founded in 1851, Castle & Cooke has been rooted in Hawaii since its creation, and the company’s most recent adaptation to the changing market is to implement green features in its projects in the Kapolei region, which is near Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Since 2009, Castle & Cooke has built more than 650 homes on 20 acres in Kapolei, including multiunit and single-family homes and a community center on its way to LEED Silver certification. These Kapolei projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2013, and Castle & Cooke has used their natural benefits to overcome the inherent challenges of developing sustainable housing in Hawaii.

Using Hawaii’s natural resources has always been a priority for the company. In addition to Energy Star appliances and low-flow fixtures, Castle & Cooke take advantage of Kapolei’s generous sunshine with solar-water heating, PV panels, and double-pane windows. The team recognizes that Hawaii’s inherently mild weather is a way to reduce energy consumption. “Our version of heating is to turn our fans down a notch, and even air-conditioning is not a standard,” says Andrew Furuta, a project manager at Castle & Cooke.

Furuta also notes that the tropical climate lets his team have a year-round construction schedule. Although Hawaii offers obvious benefits, there also are challenges. Island property is very expensive, and building materials have to be imported, which has historically hindered Hawaiian development. Castle & Cooke received development rights from the State of Hawaii and partnered with the state in order to keep its housing affordable.

But there is another pesky building problem. “Termites are a real issue in Hawaii,” Pearson says. “They are ferocious.” In order to combat the insects, Castle & Cooke uses light gauge steel made from 30 percent recycled material to build wall frames. The annoying problem becomes an opportunity to get creative with a sustainable solution. “The steel frames are a huge green feature,” he adds. “Not only are they able to be recycled after a home has been standing for years, but they also save project time by being panelized off-site.”

Castle & Cooke’s commitment to better building attempts to prove that long-standing businesses are capable of adapting to changing markets and embracing sustainability. Through the use of natural resources and bringing in consultants to implement additional green features, the company aims to stay true to its mission of serving Hawaii and building for its future.