Hawaii Tackles Affordable Housing with HVAC Solution at Kapiolani Residence

AIA Priority Category:

  • Energy




Kaplolani Residence


Honolulu, Hawaii

Design Team:

Samkoo Pacific & Samkoo Hawaii

Product Specs:

Free Joint Multi; Smart Whisper; 360 Cassette; DVM S

Originally Published:

With affordable housing availability a problem in Hawaii, the state is incentivizing developers to tackle the issue.


Hawaii’s cost of electricity for the residential sector is the highest in the nation—currently 2.5 times the national average—so it can be heavy burden on households that are already struggling.

When developer Timothy Yi, President of Samkoo Pacific & Samkoo Hawaii, set out to build the 45-story Kapiolani Residence in Honolulu, Hawaii, he wanted to provide an affordable housing option with enhanced functionality and modern design. And part of its affordability had to be keeping utility costs low for residents as well.


The housing project was built under the state’s 201H affordable housing law, which is administered by the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corp. (HHFPC). Of the 484 units, 292 are offered as affordable housing units that are reserved for Hawaii residents who meet the household and income requirements set by the HHFPC. Due to the inclusion of lower income residents, Samkoo knew they wanted a heating and cooling solution that was cost effective for Kapiolani residents while keeping independent zone control for the units and common areas.


Samkoo turned to Samsung, who recommended a design that featured a variety of residential and commercial HVAC products. Each residence, depending on the size of the unit, was equipped with either a Smart Whisper mini split system or Free Joint Multi (FJM) with Whisper wall-mount indoor units. These systems feature a digital inverter compressor, which operated at variable speeds to allow the compressor to run at precisely the speed needed to maintain the set temperature without turning the system on and off, adding efficiency and cost savings.

The wall-mount units feature a reusable filter that can be washed or vacuumed for additional savings. And with the FJM system, tenants are able to control or turn off individual rooms/zones to avoid conditioning rooms that aren’t being used. Plus, the compact size and quiet operation of the Smart Whisper and FJM outdoor equipment allows them to be installed on lanais—or patios—without disrupting residents.

Similar to residential units, the building’s common areas have independent zone control and feature Samsung’s DVM S VRF system with ducted and cassette indoor units, including Samsung’s exclusive 360 Cassette. Its innovative circular design provides surround airflow evenly throughout the space with 0% airflow reduction and no cold drafts.

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