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University of Hawaii System recognized for sustainability efforts

On Friday, July 11, the state honored 13 business and nine events for their outstanding and innovative clean energy efforts at the 2014 Hawaiʻi Green Business Awards. The awards were presented by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and hosted by the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office of the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaiʻi.

During the ceremony, Sustainability at the University of Hawaiʻi System was recognized for environmental stewardship during the 2nd Annual Hawaiʻi Sustainability in Higher Education Summit. The 3-day event, funded by the Vice-President for Community Colleges John Morton and sponsored by Hawaiʻi Energy, HECO and Johnson Controls Inc., was held on March 13–15, 2014 at Windward Community College. Approximately 300 participants representing faculty, staff, students and administrators from the University of Hawaiʻi 10-campus system, Hawaiʻi Pacific University, Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi, Chaminade University as well as invited politicians, state and federal officials, local and national sustainable business representatives, non-profit organizations leaders, and community members convened to establish and advance sustainability goals through work sessions, sharing best practice and building lasting relationships to support institutional sustainability transformation in Hawaiʻi.

The event implemented green and sustainable practices, including striving for zero waste (no paper handouts, no plastic bottles or cups provided, food was composted), having attendees bring their own bottle/mug (with a compliance of almost 100 percent), reusable plates and utensils, providing healthy cuisine prepared by a local caterer with sustainable practices, encouraging carpooling, and collaborating with a local sustainable reforestation company to offset carbon emissions.

According to the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office, the Sustainability Summit has scored the second highest out of all 16 of the green events awarded by the Hawaiʻi Green Business Program since 2012.

Sustainability is one of the major priorities of the UH System. In January, the Board of Regents unanimously approved to modify the mission and purpose of the university to include a sustainability statement which commits the university to sustainably allocating and using resources for the well-being of our communities and state, and sets ambitious goals such that the university will achieve carbon neutrality, zero waste, and local food self-sufficiency. Additionally, sustainability is one of three major themes of the UH System strategic direction and the UH Community Colleges strategic planning.

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