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Casey and Shae Goepel


Images by: Alex Kahn

Waialua is one of the few places on Oahu that remains untouched by rapid urbanization. This small North Shore town consists of small, local businesses and many homes that are off the grid. The drive to Waialua is dotted with expansive farmland and ocean views, and nestled in the quiet town, Casey and Shae Goepel have built their own sustainable dream home. As a first-time home builder, Casey spent seven weeks constructing their family home that is entirely off the grid.

While their beautiful and sustainable home is a model for community efficiency, Casey and Shae did not always have such comforts. Previously, the couple lived in tents, even through the birth of their first child. With their second child on the way, they decided that constructing a home was necessary for their family. Casey said, “I didn’t know how to build a house exactly, but I knew I could figure it out. My family is full of builders, as is my circle of friends. For anything I wasn’t sure about, I would consult my father, friends, people at the hardware store, or good ole Google.”

Not only is their house off the grid, but many of the materials used to build the home were salvaged from old structures or recycled materials from Re-use Hawaii. Ultimately, they had to rework everything to incorporate it into their new home. One of the most significant additions to the metal container that comprises a majority of the structure was drywalling and insulating the walls to keep the house at a cooler temperature. Casey is proud to say “the entire build was powered by our solar-table; saws, planers, circular saws, drills, drivers and all.”

Living off the grid also means Casey and Shae do not have access to public water. They get their water from a well using a DC solar pump. While their stove is propane, the majority of the house is powered by their six photovoltaic panels on the roof. The couple often opts for energy-efficiency over average household items, but they still have a TV, a computer, and everything else that one typically finds in a home. Keeping with their trend of sustainability, their outdoor bathroom consists of a composting toilet and a shower under a tree of flowers. The inside-outside style home works perfectly with the Hawaiian lifestyle. The family maintains a garden of avocados, mangos, lychees, and so much more.

As Casey and Shae have constructed a sustainable home for their family, they intend to raise awareness for climate issues while encouraging others to consider their environmental impact. Casey said, “The more we understand how and what we consume, the more we will be inclined to consume less. I encourage everyone to become more aware. Pay attention to your habits. You’ll be surprised to see that taking a few simple steps today can contribute to a much better tomorrow.”

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