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Oh, happy day!

Forget the doom and gloom. Let's party!

The University of Hawai’i-Manoa will be looking to get green at this year’s Earth Day festival, Friday, April 20. The all-day celebration will feature an eco-marketplace and a free concert.

Growing bigger each year, this year’s celebration isn’t about scaring people into being environmentally active, organizer Linda Day says. She sees Earth Day as a way to get people thinking positive about the changes needed in our daily lives to become more sustainable and energy-conscious.

‘This year, the message that seems to be emerging is that we can actually save the planet, and have a great time doing it,’ Day says. ‘This is a revolutionary concept for most people who have been toiling away on environmental or social justice issues. There has been a pretty high level of doom and gloom among us.’

Day says the students volunteering for the fair have been working hard to balance the hard work needed in conveying environmental issues with a healthy sense of fun. Engineering student Shanah Trevanna works with Help Us Bridge (HUB), a student organization which is working toward transforming Saunders Hall into a sustainable model for the entire state. During the festival, HUB will present its ideas at an interactive forum.

Some of the progressively green plans for the Saunders project range from creating natural cooling ecosystems to edible walls. (Yes, you read that correctly. We said ‘edible.’)

The students will be testing six different indiginous species of plants that will turn the roof of Saunders Hall into a ‘green roof.’ The plants are intended to absorb heat, thereby reducing the need for air conditioning throughout the building.

Trevanna says the students also want to line the building’s cement walls with plants that grow fruit and build an outdoor limu pond to help circulate air as well as provide natural foods.

Attendees of the Sustainable Saunders launch party can enjoy free food on biodegradeable plates while presenting their own ideas and feedback on the sustainable movement.

Topics of discussion ranging from recycling to water conservation to biofuels will be assigned to different rooms at the launch party where people will be able to design their own sustainable projects and interact with 60 different professionals in the environmental movement. Markers will be made handy to write down suggestions ‘graffiti-style’ on paper posted throughout the building.

UH’s Office of Sustainability in conjunction with the Hawai’i Electric Company will be conducting a test run of a biodiesel generator that will be used to power Ono Pono and Govinda’s, two food vendors in the sustainability courtyard.

Day hopes that UH-Manoa will one day be able to produce its own bio fuel supply, making the effort completely energy self-sufficient. Pacific Biodiesel will be providing the biofuel for the time being.

The Hawaiian Electric Company is very supportive of the sustainability efforts being made at UH and has been working closely with students to generate energy saving ideas, HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg says.

‘We gotta do all these things if we want to save the planet and keep Hawai’i independent from imported fossil fuels,’ Rosegg says.

When

From 10AM-3PM, the Earth Day Fair will grace UH’s Sustainability Courtyard and will feature an open-air eco-marketplace, live music from Makana, multi-cultural dance and green product booths.

From 3-7PM, the Sustainable Saunders Interactive Launch Party will feature live music, free food and a forum to capture ideas that will be provided to the Hawai’i 2050 Sustainability Task Force.

From 7-11PM, a free Earth Day Concert will take place on the front lawn of Hawai’i Hall, featuring live performances from Organix, Pressure Drop and the InLight fire-dancers. Dinner, dessert and organic beer and wine will be available for purchase.