Sustainability Guide 2011

Expert Roundup

Quoted

We need to stop using fresh drinking water on our lawns and golf courses and instead use grey water. Stuart Coleman

Sustainability Guide 2011 / The Weekly spoke to some experts who have made their professions in various fields of sustainability, and asked them what their top goals are for then next five years.

Gary Hooser

Gary Hooser, Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC).

“Sustainability doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. We can have prosperity and thriving businesses and still protect the environment.

“Too often people who want to protect the environment are seen as anti-economic development but every one of these goals has a positive economic side to it.”

Goals

Preserve and sustain Hawaii’s oceans and reefs, while at the same time expanding fishing opportunities.

Support organic farming and locally grown food. One option would be to create a seed bank for native plants.

Shift the focus of land use development to already developed, urbanized areas so that more land can remain undeveloped.

Energy independence–supporting the use of alternative sources of energy in homes and businesses.

Shanah Trevenna

Shanah Trevenna, founder of Sustainable UH and co-founder of the EPA-funded program, Rewarding Internships in Sustainable Employment.

“Overall, the whole concept of sustainability gets repositioned as drivability. Instead of just trying to sustain and sacrifice, we think of it as being about prosperity, health and wealth. We need a whole new perspective on what it is.”

Goals

Bring sustainability to the forefront of education and add it to school curriculum. “So that when children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, they’ll say sustainability consultants and know how to get there,” Trevenna says.

Create local Hawaii dollars that are part of every tourist package so that tourists are forced to spend their money (or “Aloha dollars”) at local services and businesses, thus keeping generating money throughout the local economy.

Make the University of Hawaii at Manoa the world accreditation center for everything that has to do with sustainability. Use their “logo” to certify and accredit products, businesses, and companies that are sustainable in the same way that Energy Star certifies that products are energy efficient.

Increase the number of hotels, restaurants, tourist businesses, etc. that practice ecotourism. For example, serving 100 percent locally grown food and practice energy conserving behaviors.

Stuart Coleman

Stuart Coleman, coordinator for Surfrider Hawaii

Goals:

Protect the coastlines by reducing coastal development and enforcing shoreline setbacks so that people cannot live so close to the ocean. “We need to make people realize that global warming and sea level rise are very real things,” he says.

Make people realize how precious potable (drinking) water is and encourage them to conserve and recycle it as much as possible. Our water is currently generated through an “open loop” system, which means that once it is used (in our sinks, showers, etc), it is sent directly to the ocean or wastewater treatment plants. One recycling option is to collect the water used in our sinks and showers (known as grey water) and re-use it to water our lawns, plants, and golf courses. “We use water once and then just throw it away. We need to stop using fresh drinking water on our lawns and golf courses and instead use grey water,” he says.

Plant bioswales along streets and roads to absorb surface runoff water and rainfall that would otherwise go directly into the ocean. “Right now, all of our streets and highways are covered in impervious pavement, so all that rainwater is washed out along with any toxins, herbicides, weed killers, gasoline, and oil that it picks up on the streets, and goes straight into the ocean.” Bioswales, which are shallow ditches covered in vegetation, would absorb storm water runoff and also recharge aquifers.

Reduce the number of plastic bags, water bottles, and single use plastics that people use on a day-to-day basis.

Asia Yeary

Asia Yeary, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 grant project officer and liaison for sustainability work in Hawaii.

“Electric vehicles have so much potential here because it’s such a small environment. All you need to do is charge them up and you can get anywhere you need to go on the island any time. They don’t emit any pollutants. It’s a really good system for Hawaii and it could be a model for the world.”

“I see all of these solutions as part of the full solution. Everything that we can do is one piece of the puzzle and we need all of it.”

Goals:

See more people making smart choices in their lives–buying local, not producing a lot of trash, reusing, recycling, composting, and reducing their over all consumption. “You can live well and healthy, but also sustainably,” she says.

See more clean energy and smart transportation projects, promote carpooling, increase the number of bicycle lanes, get newer and cleaner buses, and encourage the use of locally-sourced biodeisel fuels and electric cars.

Green workforce development: increase green job trainings, internships, funding, and curriculum for the state. Also create a website for green workforce development.

Sustainable Legislation

The Blue Planet Foundation and other conservation groups strongly support the proposed Senate Draft I of HB1520 HD2, which directs the state Public Utilities Commission to establish an on-bill financing program for residential electricity customers, a critical clean energy, pro-consumer measure. On-bill financing is one of the most powerful tools to increase energy efficiency through the use of solar power. By eliminating the initial cost and enabling customers to pay off the investment directly from the energy savings over time, clean energy measures will increase. Hawaii businesses can save more than $11,000 every year on their energy bills with on-bill financing, according to the National Small Business Association. For more information, go to [blueplanetfoundation.org]. –Lucy Jokiel