Frequently Asked Questions About Sustainable Living

Kuwili Lani   ̶̶̶  “To Embrace the Heavens”

Q. What is a Sustainable Neighborhood?
Kuwili Lani is a unique, new kind of development designed to be an sustainable living neighborhood with its eleven available lots zoned Ag-1 for agricultural use, rather than strictly residential use. Within this agricultural designation, Kuwili Lani is a planned community based on achieving a sustainable lifestyle. It emphasizes energy efficiency and conservation, wise use of natural resources and independence from the energy grid, while encouraging homeowners to grow their own healthful food (Edible Landscape-Food Security). The subdivision truly honors the rich agricultural heritage of the Hamakua Coast.

Q. Who is the developer of Kuwili Lani?

A. The owners / developers are Big Island resident Michael Whelan, co-owner of Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP and two partners who have been working for nearly 10 years to turn their vision into reality. They saw a need for this kind of development in Hawaii for people who have a concern for the environment and who want to live in an intentional community having a low-impact on the land, while being conscious of their carbon footprint.

This is a first-of-its-kind lifestyle offering in Hawaii. (For more about the Big Island Sustainable Homes story, go to "Our Story".)

Q. How many lots are there and what size are they?

A. The property is 13.9 acres total, divided into 11 lots, each at least an acre or a bit larger (Zoned Ag-1). The lots average one and a quarter acre each parcel. (See Subdivision Lot Maps under "Project Info".).

Q. Where is Kuwili Lani located?

A. The Subdivision is in the heart of the beautiful Hamakua Coast, on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is situated at an idyllic elevation between 550 to 650 feet and is less than one mile from the village of Laupahoehoe. The property is approximately one quarter mile from the ocean’s edge and close to a main road—Highway 19. From Kuwili Lani it is about a 35-minute drive to the city of Hilo, the county seat of Hawaii Island. (See maps under the Location tab).

Q. Is Kuwili Lani truly off the energy grid?

A. Almost. Electricity will be produced by the lot owner’s individual on-site renewable energy system – photovoltaic and / or wind systems, hence independence from the electric utility company. Each lot will be required to install a sustainable rain harvesting system for all outdoor water usage. Potable water for indoor use will be provided by a private water system via our County Master Water Meter. In addition, the development will have its own private wifi / broadband system. All utilities are underground, so there are no visible utility wires / poles on property. There is ample area on each lot for food production.

Q. Is this a secure neighborhood?

A. Yes, Kuwili Lani has a private road and front entry security gate. There is a newly created continuous Pasture fence surrounding the entire 13.9-acre property. It is bordered on one side by a small and quiet residential neighborhood, typical of the pastoral country areas of the Big Island, and on other sides by land zoned agricultural / conservation.

Q: Didn’t the recent Volcanic activity on the Big Island come to an end?

A: Yes. The amazing display that captivated the nation almost totally ended the first week of August. It went officially silent the middle of September as the Hawaii Volcano Observatory reports that gas emissions are at their lowest levels since before the long term Pu’u O’o eruption in 1983. We are back to the amazing clear, blue skies and amazing sunsets that the islands are known for.

Q. May I build the type of home I want?

A. Yes, Design Guidelines are in place to provide a framework that lot owners and their design team may use to create dwellings that further the goals and aesthetics of the project. Lot owners will be encouraged to emulate the example home to be built on property, which is designed to be a “Net Zero” energy / water - efficient dwelling built “above code.” It will utilize the latest in green building materials and sustainable technology throughout, promoting healthy and natural indoor environments as much as possible.

Q. I have no experience building this type of home – who can help me?

A. Kuwili Lani does not have a specific builder that you are required to use. However, a team of designers, architects, builders and contractors are available to assist all homeowners with building plans and to create a home based on the aesthetics and sustainable design of the example home. For more information on obtaining assistance, please visit

Q. Will I be required to have my home certified by LEED or other third-party Green certification standards?

A: No. While certification by such progressive programs as the United States Green Building Council’s “LEED for Homes” (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) will not be mandatory, their standards will nevertheless be utilized, where applicable, for dwellings within the project to achieve LEED Guidelines. The USGBC is internationally recognized as the leading authority on the design and development of Green buildings. Should lot purchasers at Kuwili Lani opt for such third-party certification on their homes, they would be encouraged to use the LEED certification rating system. Click on the USGBC logo at the bottom of the page to access the USGBC - LEED website.

Q: What about CC&Rs, Design Guidelines and an HOA?

A: Yes, protective “Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions” as well as Design Guidelines are in place at Kuwili Lani to protect a homeowner’s investment and to ensure that certain standards are met to maintain aesthetics and the overall vision of this sustainable community. Homeowners will be assisted in interpreting these Design Guidelines in order to create a sustainable residence that abides by these standards. There is also a Homeowners’ Association or HOA to oversee house rules and other ongoing design and operational aspects of the community.

Q: How do I go about producing my own food?

A: The rich soil of the Hamakua Coast and warm Hawaii climate mean plants and trees thrive year ‘round. The size of the lots at Kuwili Lani allow ample space for growing plants, flowers and trees, so producing your own food is strongly encouraged. Consultants are available to assist with design, implementation and managing of various agricultural systems, including Aquaponics, Natural Farming, in-bed production, orchards, hot houses / green houses, and much more. For more information on obtaining assistance, please visit

Q: What are the advantages and benefits of living in Kuwili Lani?

A: First and foremost is the amazing location, offering a changing kaleidoscope of beautiful vistas of ocean, pastures and sky on a gently sloping hillside bordered by farms on two sides and conservation land / waterfall on the other. These attributes, in addition to the cool elevation and climate, allow for invigorating, comfortable country living.  Secondly, this is a community based on living a sustainable, healthy lifestyle with a respect for the land and betterment of the environment. Finally, residing at Kuwili Lani allows for “aging in place” and passing on an ethic of wise use of resources / energy conservation and community to future generations.

Q: Is living in a sustainable community for me?

A: Kuwili Lani offers an opportunity for you to live in and participate in an intentional community, based on the concept of being mindful of energy use, the land / environment and embracing a sustainable, low-impact, independent lifestyle. Living in Kuwili Lani is about sharing a different vision for creating a community with other like-minded people. It’s for people who want to be part of something far more dynamic and forward thinking than can be offered by typical residential home ownership. For more insights visit