Archive for September, 2012

Keeping it Green Hawai‘i Awards

September 26th, 2012
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Islands Naturals Market & Deli, past recipient of the "Keeping It Green Hawai‘i" award, offers a display teaching kids about recycling. Courtesy Photo.

Islands Naturals Market & Deli, past recipient of the "Keeping It Green Hawai‘i" award, offers a display teaching kids about recycling. The store became plastic grocery bag-free in 2008 and recycles everything from receipts to paper, cans, jars and bottles. Courtesy Photo.

It's time for the "Keeping It Green Hawai‘i Awards" again.

Recycle Hawaii and Earth-Friendly Schools Hawaii are seeking nominations for the awards this year, which will be recognized at the America Recycles Day Concert at the Palace Theater in Hilo. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 31.

Nominees must meet at least three of the following criteria: Practice the 3 R's of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," protect our native Hawaiian forest, promote organic farming, develop alternative energy, support sustainable industry and green building practices; implement energy and resource conservation practices; and create open space 'greenways.'

Other criteria include supporting youth programs with service learning projects designed to protect our natural resources, educate the community about climate change and honor and respect native Hawaiian gathering rights and cultural practices.

Past award recipients include the Volcano Art Center, Island Naturals Market & Deli, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and Hilo Coffee Mill.

Visit www.recyclehawaii.org or call 808-969-2012 for more information about nominations.

A solar suitcase

September 25th, 2012
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RevoluSun project developer John Cheever and Dr. Bradley Wong of the Aloha Medical MIssion with a Solar Suitcase. Courtesy Photo.

RevoluSun project developer John Cheever and Dr. Bradley Wong of the Aloha Medical MIssion with a Solar Suitcase. Courtesy Photo.

Ever heard of a solar suitcase?

It's a portable solar power unit that provides doctors and other health care workers with medical lighting and power for mobile communication, computers and medical devices.

RevoluSun, a solar company providing both residential and commercial systems, recently raised $1,500 to purchase a WE CARE Solar Suitcase for the Aloha Medical Mission, which sends medical teams to underserved countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Bradley Wong, Aloha Medical Mission president, says the non-profit group is taking the solar suitcase on a mission to Lahan, a small town in southeastern Nepal in October, where doctors will perform a range of surgeries on about 150 adults and children.

"We believe this is the start of something significant, and hope to set up larger fundraising opportunities to purchase more units for underserved areas," said Wong.

Solar has the power to do more than save you money on your electricity bill — it has the power to transform lives.

RevoluSun workers raised the money after project developer John Cheever met Dr. Wong and learned about the solar suitcase. Within a week, they raised the $1,500 to purchase one.

The We CARE Solar Suitcase "brings lights, power and hope to health facilities in regions without reliable electricity." It's transformed maternal health care in Uganda. To learn more about solar suitcases, visit wecaresolar.org.

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Shopping at Re-use Hawaii

September 21st, 2012
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Lobby at Re-use Hawaii is made of the salvaged gym floor from Punahou.

Lobby at Re-use Hawaii is made of the salvaged gym floor from Punahou. Photo by Nina Wu.

The other day, I swung by the Re-use Hawaii warehouse to browse for recycled building materials.

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The warehouse, at 200 Keawe St. (next door to the John A. Burns School of Medicine), first opened its doors in April 2010, and has since expanded.

Here, you can find everything from leftover, green tiles from the Wilson Tunnel to redwood lumber, windows, doors, cabinets, light chandeliers, drawer pulls, screws, hinges and even a few, occasional furniture pieces like a vintage office desk.

Cool, you could have a piece of the Wilson Tunnel in your kitchen or bathroom.

You can take a peek at what's available at this picasa link.

Re-use, a non-profit, specializes in deconstruction services, meaning it takes apart a home piece by piece, salvaging all reusable materials. It's a greener alternative  to demolition, which may be a quicker way to bring down a home, but ends up in the landfill.

The non-profit group has deconstructed hundreds of homes from Kahala to Kaimuki.

The warehouse also accepts tax-deductible donations of materials — but it's  best to check what they do or do not accept by calling or sending an email to info@reusehawaii.org first.

The last time I checked, they were accepting appliances less than 5 years old, screws, nuts, bolts, and tile measuring at least 25 square feet. They were not accepting cultured marble, aluminum sliding doors, hollow core slab doors, carpet or toilets. Glass, paint, office partitions, vinyl are also not accepted. Click here for more details.

Re-use Hawaii Warehouse is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Visit reusehawaii.org or call 537-2228 to drop off donations.

Window frames of varying sizes available at Re-use Hawaii Warehouse. Photo by Nina Wu.

Window frames of varying sizes available at Re-use Hawaii Warehouse. Photo by Nina Wu.

Job: Must love Pandas

September 11th, 2012
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Interested in becoming a Pambassador in Chengdu, China?

The Chengdu Panda Base, in partnership with WildAid and The Yao Ming Foundation, is now recruiting passionate panda lovers across the world to land a job working with pandas in the wild. Three Chengdu Pambassadors will be selected.

More details on how to apply are available on the Chengdu Pambassador Facebook page, where panda lovers have to "Like" Chengdu Pambassador and then start raising awareness about panda conservation and wild habitat preservation. Deadline to apply is Oct. 1.

Panda cubs play at the Chengdu Research Base in Chengdu, China, on Aug. 2, 2001. Thirteen giant pandas are pregnant and expected to give birth within a few months -- part of a campaign to rescue China's national symbol from the brink of extinction. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Panda cubs play at the Chengdu Research Base in Chengdu, China, on Aug. 2, 2001. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Semi-finalists, to be chosen in late October, will then compete for a chance to travel to Chengdu for the final round. Applicants will be whittled down to 24, who will go to Washington D.C., and then 16 (four each from the U.S., U.K., Singapore and mainland China).

The competition takes place over three months.

The Pambassadors will spend a year in Chengdu, where the goal of the program this year is to reintroduce pandas into the wild. They will also be invited to participate in a "Global Panda Conservation Tour" in 2013 which includes a globe-trotting experience visiting pandas hosted in 11 countries.

"The giant panda is a unique creature, loved by people around the world and especially the Chinese," said basketball star Yao Ming. "These pandas are native to Sichuan, and it is our duty to care for them and help them thrive  back in their home in the wild."

In 2010, six finalists (out of 60,000 applicants from around the globe) won the opportunity to spend one month as panda caretakers at Chengdu Panda Base in China.

The Chengdu Panda Base is a non-profit group engaged in wildlife research, captive breeding and conservation education. Today, it is home to 108 healthy panda bears.

Did you hear a "ko-KEE"? Listen Sept. 12

September 10th, 2012
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The coqui frog is just about the size of a quarter, but reproduces quickly and makes a loud "ko-KEE" noise from dusk to dawn. Star-Advertiser archives photo.

The coqui tree frog, originally from Puerto Rico, is just about the size of a quarter, but reproduces quickly and makes a loud "ko-KEE" noise from dusk to dawn. OISC invites Oahu residents to go out and listen for the invasive coqui frogs as part of a new monitoring program via a new app on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser archives photo.

If you've ever been to Hawaii island, then you've no doubt heard the unmistakable "ko-KEE, ko-KEE, ko-KEE!" as dusk settled in.

Soon the lone call of the coqui frog, a Puerto Rican tree frog and invasive species in Hawaii, is joined by several other voices to create a cacophony to — shall we say — serenade you throughout the night.

While lone coqui frogs have been discovered on the island of Oahu from time to time, they have not yet established a population here.

The Oahu Invasive Species Committee hopes to keep it that way, and so this Wednesday (Sept. 12) has been established as "Go Out and Listen Night." OISC invites all Oahu residents to help listen for the invasive coqui frogs for a period of 15 minutes from 7:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Report whether you did or did not hear a coqui frog in your area via the city's new "Honolulu 311" app.

For details on how to participate, or to hear what a coqui frog sounds like (if you've never been so lucky), or step-by-step instructions on how to use the app, visit www.coqui311.blogspot.com.

Coqui frogs, native to Puerto Rico, typically hitchhike to the island through potted plants or other items shipped from Hawaii island. They are light-brown to dark-colored frogs with variable patterns and reach up to two inches as adults. The "ko-KEE" is the male coqui's mating call, which sounds like a two-note, bird chirp (click hear to listen to a sample online). To learn more, visit the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website.

Since the beginning of this year, 20 coqui frogs have been captured on Oahu.

"Coqui frogs threaten to deprive residents of a good night's sleep with their earsplitting 'ko-KEE' calls that last from dusk until dawn, lower the value of properties, discourage tourism and alter the island's natural ecosystems by consuming beneficial insects that play an important role in nutrient cycling processes," says OISC in a press release.

If you don't have a smartphone, you can still report coqui frogs by emailing OISC at oisc@hawaii.edu or calling the state pest hotline, 643-PEST.

International Coastal Cleanup Day

September 7th, 2012
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Take part in the largest Kailua Beach cleanup in history (including Kailua, Lanikai, Flat Island and the Mokes) as part of International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Put it on your calendar: International Coastal Cleaup Day is Saturday, Sept. 15.

Here are three beach cleanups you can participate in:

>> Kailua Beach Park Cleanup: Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is organizing what it calls "the largest beach cleanup event in Kailua history." The cleanup covers all of Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach as well as Popoia and Mokunui Islands. Meet up at 9:30 a.m. Bags, gloves, tally sheets will be provided. Cleanup ends at noon and volunteers are invited to Lanikai Park for an afternoon of live music, "green" guest speakers, keiki games, eco-education, some food and more. Visit SustainableCoastlinesHawaii.org.

Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties Agents for Change. Courtesy photo.

Agents for Change. Courtesy photo.

>> Sand Island Beach Park Cleanup: The Surfrider Foundation's Oahu Chapter and Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties Agents for Change will team up for a community beach cleanup at Sand Island as part of International Coastal Cleanup Day.

The cleanup takes place from 10 a.m. to noon at Sand Island Beach Park (end of Sand Island Access Road).

Prizes courtesy of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties Agents for Change include eco-friendly backpacks, reusable bags and water bottles plus a plate lunch for all participants. Coldwell  Banker Pacific Properties Agents for Change is also donating a $2,500 check to the Surfrider Foundation.

>> Kaena Point: The Friends of Kaena also invite volunteers to join a beach cleanup of this beautiful coastline on the Mokuleia side of the North Shore  (and home to nesting Laysan albatross) from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Please bring a reusable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, work gloves and close-toed shoes. Carpooling is encouraged. RSVP here. Call 586-0915 or email info@friendsofkaena.org for more information.

Reaching new solar heights

September 6th, 2012
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It took 47 helicopter lifts to transport solar panels and other materials on to the rooftop of Kukui Plaza's two towers. Sunetric is installing the 200-kw solar PV system to help offset costs in the complex's common areas, setting a record for the tallest one in the state. Courtesy photo.

It took 47 helicopter lifts to transport solar panels and other materials on to the rooftop of Kukui Plaza's two towers. Sunetric is installing the 200-kw solar PV system to help offset costs in the complex's common areas, setting a record for the tallest one in the state. Courtesy photo.

The solar photovoltaics market in Hawaii has reached new heights with the installation of a 200-kW solar photovoltaic system on Kukui Plaza's two 32-story towers in downtown Honolulu.

Sunetric is installing the solar PV system, which is expected to offset about 32.2 percent of electricity in the complex's common areas.

That would include places like the walkways, elevators, parking garage and park.

Approximately 6,000 people live, work or pass through the complex every day, and maintenance fees continued to rise, due in large part to utilities.

The property's management proposed going solar to the Association of Owners' Board of Directors.

And amazingly, the board agreed.

"We needed to find a way to offset those rising utility costs, and Sunetric provided an avenue for us," said Henry Urquhart, Kukui Plaza operations manager. "Since 1981 Kukui Plaza has been a self-managed property, and it only makes sense for us to be self-sustaining, too."

Maybe this will set a precedent for other high-rises in Honolulu.

The solar PV system, which required 47 helicopter lifts to transport panels and other materials 280 feet high on to the rooftop, sets the record for the tallest PV system in the state (relative to ground level).

Kukui Plaza should expect to save about $22,870 a year due to the solar PV system, which it installed via a Power Purchase Agreement. After 20 years, Kukui Plaza will retain 100 percent of the savings from energy generated from then on.

Built in the 1970s, Kukui Plaza is a mixed-use condo project with 908 condo apartments, a 2.6-acre park and shopping mall with about 30 shops, restaurants and businesses.

Watch a video of the helicopter lifting the panels on to the rooftop of Kukui Plaza:

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Eat your greens for a good cause

September 5th, 2012
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Seafood team leader Chris Pearson getting ready to kiss a fish at Whole Foods Market Kailua as part of a fundraising event from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Sepet. 7) at Whole Foods Market Kailua. Courtesy photo.

Seafood team leader Chris Pearson getting ready to kiss a fish at Whole Foods Market Kailua as part of a fundraising event from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 7) at Whole Foods Market Kailua. Courtesy photo.

Eating your greens means giving some green at Whole Foods Market locations at Kahala, Kailua and Kahului on Sunday, Sept. 9.

Bringing gardens and greens to schools. Courtesy photo.

Bringing gardens and greens to schools. Courtesy photo.

For every pound of salad purchased on Sunday, Whole Foods Market will be donating $1 to the Whole Kids Foundation and its annual Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools fundraiser in September. Money raised from the one-day event helps put salad bars in local schools, including four on Oahu (Kainalu Elementary, Ke Kula ‘O Samuel M. Kamakau, Makaha Elementary and Waikiki Elementary.

The project's goal is to provide 6,000 school salad bars across the nation by 2013.

Other events to raise funds for the Whole Kids Foundation will be taking place until Sept. 23, including a fundraiser from 5 to 7 pm. tonight (Thursday, Sept. 6) at Fighting Eel in Kailua. For a $5 fee, enjoy wine, pupus and a 10-percent discount.

Then tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 7), Whole Foods Kailua is holding its Kiss-A-Fish fundraising event from 4 to 6 p.m.. Seafood team leader Chris Pearson will kiss a whole fish (the bigger, the better) for every donation of $1 or more to the Whole Kids Foundation.

Shoppers can also make donations at checkout (add a donation to your total bill), put change in a cute little kettle, or simply give the 10-cents credit for each bag you bring in to shop with. Or make a donation online at www.wholekidsfoundation.org.

Proceeds from the salad bar and hot foods bar on Sunday, Sept. 9 will go towards the Whole Kids Foundation.

Proceeds from the salad bar and hot foods bar on Sunday, Sept. 9 will go towards the Whole Kids Foundation.