Manoa Green Days: A step on the path to sustainability
University of Hawaii at Manoa coordinates a widespread power-off on low usage days and overnight to become more economically and environmentally efficient.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 15:23
ISLAND IMPACT: Hawaii Hall, one the four original buildings of the campus, is participating in Manoa Green Days. (Photo: Sophie Gaze)
In response to the economic and environmental changes that are happening in Hawaii and around the world, the University of Hawaii at Manoa is making strides to achieve a more sustainable campus.
Manoa Green Days is a program that was started to reduce operating costs, to perform in a more environmentally friendly manner, and to practice cooperation within the UH Manoa community. In this program, volunteer building coordinators from more than 20 campus buildings communicate with building occupants about the Manoa Green Days initiative, such as when the university shuts off air-conditioning to campus buildings. This widespread power-off occurs on low usage days such as weekends and holidays, as well as overnight.
Prof. Kevin Kawamoto is the building coordinator for Crawford Hall, one of the buildings participating in Manoa Green Days. "It is my understanding that the Manoa campus can potentially save $3 million a year in electricity charges through the initiative. The overall electricity charges for the Manoa campus are $23 million a year. About 75 percent of that amount is due to air-conditioning," Kawamoto said.
It is evident that focusing on air conditioning systems will provide a restoration in savings and hopefully enhance energy efficiency.
A pilot program began in December 2008 with only a small number of buildings. The number of participating buildings increased as the news of the Manoa Green Days program's economic and environmental success spread.
Following the pilot program Kathy Cutshaw, the Vice Chancellor for Administration, Finance, and Operations, issued an announcement in June 2009 that the coverage of the Manoa Green Days program would expand in July.
"The Manoa campus should take a leadership role in preserving our environment and operating in a sustainable manner ... The pilot project clearly showed that the support and participation of the entire campus can have a significant impact in achieving meaningful utility cost reductions," said Cutshaw in an email to the Manoa Executive Team and the faculty, staff, students and building coordinators who were affected by the program.
The UH Manoa community does face some drawbacks to the program. Building usage and access is restricted. For example, faculty who need to access their offices to work on the weekends or students who wish to meet in a particular building are forced to find an alternative location, according to Kawamoto.
In light of the difficult economic times, however, the UH Manoa community must work together to make the sacrifices necessary to becoming a more sustainable campus.
"I like that the university is taking an interest in sustainability issues and obviously support Manoa Green Days ... I also applaud the university students, staff and faculty members who have been inconvenienced by Manoa Green Days but support it nevertheless because of the positive effects it can have on the environment and university's budget," Kawamoto said.