Archive for the ‘Green business’ Category

Brewing beer with solar

March 8th, 2012
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Kona Brewing Co., organizer of the Kona Brewers Festival on Saturday, chose to go solar in 2010 with this 229-Kilowatt (KW) solar array. Courtesy Photo.

Kona Brewing Co., organizer of the Kona Brewers Festival on Saturday, chose to go solar in 2010 with this 229-Kilowatt (KW) solar array. Courtesy Photo.

It's almost time for the 17th annual Kona Brewers Festival, a celebration of beer and cuisine on the Big Island this Saturday (March 10). So what's green about beer in Hawaii?

In 2010, Sunetric installed a 229-kilowatt solar energy system for the Kona Brewing Co.'s flagship brewery and pub, which started the Brewers Festival in 1996.

Here are some interesting figures on Kona Brewing Co.'s solar array:

  • Produced 314,563 pints, or 2,537 kegs, of hand-crafted brew to date.
  • Produced enough wattage to power 76 average residences each day.
  • Conserved 734 barrels of oil to date; the equivalent of 4,498 trips around the Big Island.
  • Prevented 691,132 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 2,425 mid-sized cars off the road.
  • Saved Kona Brewing Co. $209,416 in electric costs in 2011 alone.

The Brewers Festival raises funds for environmental, educational and cultural causes. To see a list of beneficiaries, visit Sunetric's blog (and is giving away iPod Shuffles and other prizes to help raise awareness). They include everyone from The ACF Chefs de Cuisine Kona Kohala Chapter to the Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii.

Sunetric is also bringing its Watt Wheels mobile solar energy station (a bright blue Honda Element retrofitted with three 230-watt SunPower modules) to power one of the festival's stages.

Whoa! Fat oil disposal boxes

February 28th, 2012
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The Whoa! Fat box is a handy little box for collecting your kitchen oil disposal waste. Courtesy image.

The Whoa! Fat box is a handy little box for collecting your kitchen oil disposal waste. Courtesy image.

Most of you have probably heard of those oil change boxes where you can drain your motor oil from your car — if you do it yourself.

Well, it turns out that Island Shell Environmental Manufacturing of Aiea, which produces the Suck'Em Up Oil Change Boxes, also makes the Whoa! Fat Kitchen Oil Disposal Box.

It's basically a Chinese takeout box filled inside with highly absorbent cellulose materials made from recycled newspapers, cardboards and phonebooks (retail price $3), which absorb your cooking oil.

It takes up to four cups of oil. If you don't use it all up right away, you can store this box under your sink or in the fridge. When done, toss it into your trash can for curbside pickup (the oil will in turn go to HPOWER and be converted back into energy).

The Whoa! Fat Kitchen Oil Disposal Box has a cute logo, a chef pouring his frying pan oil into a box. Photo courtesy of Whoa! Fat.

The Whoa! Fat Kitchen Oil Disposal Box has a cute logo, a chef pouring his frying pan oil into a box. He looks like he's having fun. Courtesy of Whoa! Fat.

The logo is fun and kind of catchy.

Fats, oils and grease — collectively known as FOG — are the city sewer system's No. 1 enemy, according to a city report. When you pour oil down your sink, it cools in the sewer line and solidifies, potentially forming clogs that can cause your sewer to overflow or back up into buildings.

This goes for pretty much any kind of oil, including olive oil (which is what I mostly cook with) for simple stir-fries. It's not just the big vat of oils used to fry foods that we're talking about.

Brothers Chea and CJ Peat of CP Distributions LLC are the distributors of the Whoa! Fat box. They're getting the word out via social media, on Whoa! Fat's Facebook page as well as website.

Chea is actually a property manager, and he can tell you firsthand of the woes and expenses condo associations have had to go through to fix their sewer lines due to people pouring excess grease and oil down their sinks.

The boxes replace more traditional oil disposal methods, which include pouring oil into old milk cartons, jars and paper towels to clean up excess cooking oils. One reader called in to say you could make your own oil disposal box out of recycled half-gallon milk cartons and recycled newspapers — I think you certainly could and that's not a bad idea if you don't want to shell out money to buy a box. You would be recycling and keeping grease out of the sewer lines.

If you don't want to make your own box, then you can buy a Whoa! Fat box. What I like is that these boxes are actually manufactured here out of materials recycled from the island.

If you don't have access to Internet (as another reader informed me), you can pick up a Whoa! Fat box at Napa Auto Parts in Hawaii Kai (333 Keahole St.) and Kaimuki (3562 Waialae Ave.) or at Kale's Natural Foods at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center (377 Keahole St.).

A rooftop farm in Kakaako

January 4th, 2012
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Kahu Curt Kekuna conducts a blessing for FarmRoof's first urban rooftop farm in Kakaako. The farm will measure close to 1 acre, when done. CSA subscriptions will be available from FarmRoof.com. Photo by Nina Wu.

Kahu Curt Kekuna conducts a blessing for FarmRoof's first urban rooftop farm in Kakaako as founder Alan Joaquin stands by. The farm will measure close to 1 acre, when done. CSA subscriptions are available from FarmRoof.com. Photos by Nina Wu.

Want to order up some Kakaako-grown, organic kale and arugula? You may be able to do so soon from the expansivee rooftop at Auto Mart USA (the former CompUSA building) at 604 Ala Moana Blvd.

Eating local has taken on a new dimension.

FarmRoof, a Waimanalo-based company founded by Alan Joaquin, installed the first phase of the urban farm this morning on Auto Mart's rooftop.  Eventually, itfarmroofgreens will measure 38,000 square feet, or close to an acre.

Among the greens to be planted are organic heirloom kale, arugula and mustard greens.

Harvest-time is expected in as little as three weeks.

The farm plans to supply the community, local retailers and chefs with an assortment of crops. You can sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription at www.FarmRoof.com. The first delivery (by bike) is anticipated on Feb. 3, 2012.

With Kahu Curt Kekuna's blessing, the long rows of soil-containing mesh sacks were unfurled, a small hole was broken at the top, and the first few seeds of kale were planted with a sprinkling of water.

These sacks contain ultra lightweight soil, according to Joaquin, and are infused with more than 70 minerals, trace elements, micro-nutrients and indigenous microorganisms. FarmRoof's greens are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The system, he says, offers a 10 to 1 production gain over a conventional farm, uses 90 percent less water and can be powered by a single 9-volt battery. If there's not enough rain, there's an internal irrigation system that waters the greens.

plantingseedsFarmRoof's system will harness the sun's energy while also cooling down AutoMart's interior downstairs.

"What we're trying to do is start a revolution," said Joaquin, who pointed to the nearby port which he said ships in 85 to 90 percent of our food at an average distance of 4,500 miles. "We're trying to take that wasted roof space and turn it into healthy food. If even 25 percent of the available flat rooftops in Kakaako, Honolulu and Waikiki had FarmRoofs installed, we could grow enough loose leaf lettuce to feed every  man, woman and child in Hawaii, with Zero Food Miles"

There are rooftop farms in the urban core of cities like Chicago and  New York.

A 600-square-foot rooftop farm already exists atop Sweet Home Waimanalo. There's also a small, rooftop garden at the office of Philip White Architects at 40 S. School St., which was installed in 2010. FarmRoof Super Greens became available at Whole Foods Market in November 2011.

FarmRoof is subleasing the space from Auto Mart USA as part of a deal brokered by landowner Kamehameha Schools. A rooftop farm is also expected to be installed on a housing complex at 680 Ala Moana Blvd.

Hawaii's first carrotmob

November 16th, 2011
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Get ready for Hawaii's first Carrotmob this Saturday at The Wine Stop. Photo from www.carrotmobhawaii.com.

Get ready for Hawaii's first Carrotmob this Saturday at The Wine Stop. Photo from www.carrotmobhawaii.com.

Get ready for Hawaii's first Carrotmob.

What is Carrotmob, you ask? It's "a new way for people to change businesses. In a boycott, everyone loses. In a Carrotmob, everyone wins." It's a concept started by a San Francisco-based non-profit. You can watch a cartoon explanation here.

LOGO FACEBOOKThe state's first carrotmob is being organized by KYA Sustainability Studio, which is encouraging shoppers to buy a bottle of wine or beer between 1 to 5 p.m. this Saturday (Nov. 19) at The Wine Stop at 1809 S. King St.

Here's how it works: KYA Sustainability Studio organizes Carrotmob, encouraging people to shop at The Wine Stop this Saturday afternoon. The Wine Stop, a local business, has agreed to direct 80 percent of sales generated by Carrotmob towards a retrofit of the building's energy system. (KYA Sustainability Studio, by the way, is just down the street from The Wine Stop).

For every $20 spent, mobbers will also receive raffle tickets for prize giveaways sponsored by Mobi PCS.

The Wine Stop — which is owned by Kamehameha Schools grad Liane Fu and business partner Kim Karalovich — has already had an energy audit completed of its small, orange-colored, one-story store, complimentary of Energy Industries LLC. The Wine Stop plans to replace existing lights with more energy-efficient LED lights, and install Energy Star rated walk-in refrigeration components. It also hopes to save up for a full air-conditioning retrofit as well as a solar PV system down the line.

"It makes sense because if we continue using our natural resources to the extent that we are, then it's going to be a horror movie," said Fu. "Right now, we don't feel it, but in the future it will be felt. I feel that we need to focus on sustainable choices now to prevent disaster in the future."

It's also a creative way to help Hawaii reach its goal of energy independence. Let's hope there will be more carrotmobs to come. You can learn more by visiting www.carrotmobhawaii.com.

APEC's carbon footprint

November 7th, 2011
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Hawaiian springs bottled water is being offered to APEC delegates and guests. Will those bottles by recycled. Photo from hawaiiansprings.com.

Hawaiian Springs bottled water is being offered to APEC delegates and global media. Will those bottles by recycled by APEC attendees or carelessly tossed in the trash? Photo from hawaiianspringswater.com.

Today, roughly 20,000 people from 21 nations descended upon Honolulu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum taking place this week.

They came from as far as Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, as well as Papua New Guinea, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, China, Malaysia and Russia.

Calculated as a whole, that itself is a pretty significant carbon footprint. On the other hand, due to road closures, more cars will be staying off certain roads locally, leading to a reduction in the carbon footprint but not likely enough to offset 20,000 airplane trips from abroad.

At APEC 2011 in Honolulu, some 9,500 gift boxes will also be given out to CEOs, business leaders, foreign dignitaries and global media with a number of items including a small bottle of Hawaiian Springs water. Hawaiian Springs, to its credit, has donated money to help save the endangered na‘u plant on Oahu.

My question is — will they recycle that bottle? Or carelessly toss it into the trash to add to Oahu's overflowing landfill?

Maybe it depends on where you're from. In Australia, Canada and Singapore, recycling is part of of the daily norm, done without a second thought. Check out this cool map of all the recycling bins in Singapore by zerowastesg.com.

But we don't make it easy to do here. Unfortunately, Honolulu is behind many other U.S. states and APEC nations when it comes to its recycling infrastructure. Most of Waikiki's public venues, including Kapiolani Park and the main stretch of Kalakaua Avenue, have no recycling bins. Our beach parks have no recycling bins, either, where we need them most.

While the  Hawai‘i Convention Center collects aluminum, glass and plastic in its Food & Beverage division, it, too, does not have public recycling bins in its common areas.

Many Waikiki hotels continue to throw out newspapers and other items which could be recycled on a daily basis while others have made an effort to recycle. It's only in response to guest requests — guests who want to know why there aren't recycling bins in the rooms — that many changes have been made.

Some hotels are leading the way in implementing this change.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village , where dignitaries are staying, has long had a good recycling system set up at its facilities, as well as the Sheraton Waikiki, which recently implemented a sorting center to separate all guest room generated waste materials. The JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina, where the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will be this weekend, was given the "Hawaii Green Business Award" in March.

Still, we probably could do better as the host of APEC's 2011 summit. Other cities that were vying for APEC, including San Francisco and New York, have better recycling infrastructures in place as cities than Honolulu. Instead of lagging behind, we could be a model for green practices. It's time for a new awareness and a new consciousness.

APEC leaders will negotiate free trade and CEOs will discuss "The Future. Redefined" and "Cities of the Future" while they are here. At the very least, I hope APEC attendees will take the individual step of recycling that water bottle, even though there's no convenient place to do so.

Hagadone goes solar in a big way

September 27th, 2011
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Hagadone recently installed a 433.7-kW solar PV system on its rooftop at a cost of $2.7 million. Hagadone will be able to sell excess energy back to HECO at market rates. Photo courtesy Hagadone.

Hagadone recently installed a 433.7-kw solar PV system on its rooftop. With the feed-in tariff program, excess energy will be sold back to HECO at market rates. Photo courtesy Hagadone.

Hagadone Printing Company, which prints most glossy magazines and brochures in Hawaii, has gone solar.

The company installed a 433-7-kW solar PV system on its rooftop, with a total of 1,408 panels spread across 25,000 square feet of existing roof space. That's a pretty large system (RevoluSun did the job).

With a price tag of $2.7 million, the new PV system is expected to power a quarter of the energy used by its administrative and printing operations.

It's also one of the first commercial installations to take advantage of HECO's feed-in tariff program. That means that any excess energy produced by Hagadone will by purchased by HECO at market rate prices.

The system is expected to save Hagadone more than $160,000 in electricity costs in its first year, and to pay for itself in about six years. I would imagine other commercial businesses will follow suit.

Hagadone also offers a carbon offset program in partnership with natureOfficeUSA.

Garden grants for Hawaii's schools

September 12th, 2011
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Gardens not only teach kids where their food comes from, but how to eat healthy. Photo courtesy Whole Kids Foundation.

Gardens not only teach kids where their food comes from, but how to eat healthy. Whole Foods is now accepting donations for garden grants. Photo courtesy Whole Kids Foundation.

While ringing up your goods at Whole Foods Market, you can now conveniently donate $1 or $5  to Whole Kids Foundation, which offers grants for gardens in schools.

The newly launched Whole Kids Foundation is offering $2,000 grants apiece to schools or groups that want to launch or expand garden projects from now through Dec. 31. A total of 1,000 grants are available.

The Foundation was launched in order to increase children's access to healthy foods.

Last year, for instance, Whole Foods partnered with F3 (the Food, Family, Farming Foundation) for its salad bar project, in which it helped install 57 salad bars in schools across the U.S., including Halau Ku Mana and Waikiki School (Oahu), Kanuikapono Public Charter School and Kapaa High School (Kauai) and Haleakala Waldorf School, Hana School and Kihei Charter School (Maui).

Public, private and charter schools as well as community gardening groups can submit applications at www.wholekidsfoundation.org.

On a national level, the Environmental Working Group in Washington DC is also rallying for new government guidelines for marketing unhealthy foods to children to combat childhood obesity. EWG is asking for your help in telling the CEOs of 13 major food manufacturers (including General Mills, Kellogg's, Kraft and McDonald's) to market healthier food to kids instead of junk food.

The EWG suggested food companies voluntary adopt two principles: to make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet by containing a significant amount of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products or extra lean meat. Also, to have only "minimal quantities of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health and weight," such as sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars.

It's interesting when you look at the list of ingredients under foods packaged specifically for kids – you really have to be careful — sometimes sugar and high fructose corn syrup are second on the list, especially in boxed cereals and even in biscuits geared towards toddlers.

Green films: Carbon Nation and Bag It!

July 27th, 2011
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Cliff Etheredge Roscoe, a wind farmer in Texas, appears in "Carbon Nation" screening this evening. Photo by Peter Byck.

Cliff Etheredge Roscoe, a wind farmer in Texas, appears in "Carbon Nation" screening this evening. Photo by Peter Byck.

Punahou School and Kanu Hawaii co-host a free, public screening of the 2010 documentary film, "Carbon Nation," exploring creative solutions to climate change at 6:30 this evening at the Luke Lecture Hall in the Wo International Center on campus.

The documentary movie is an entertaining primer about why it's smart to be a part of the new, low-carbon economy, while delving into climate change solutions. The film premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC in March last year.

The screening is part of Punahou's film-and-discussion series, "Food for Thought," in conjunction with the Student Global Leadership Institute.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on clean energy, including Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz; Bill Waring, president and owner of Sustainable Strategies LLC; and Emily McCarren, Punahou Academy Summer School Director.

Free campus parking is available at Punahou, 1601 Punahou St. (Enter the main gate at Punahou St. and Wilder Ave.). The movie screens from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.. Call 944-5871 for more information.

Also, if haven't seen "Bag It" yet, which is a film about plastic bags and their impact on oceans and our health, there will be a free screening 7 p.m. on Friday (July 29) at the Mid-Pacific Institute's  Bakken Auditorium, 2445 Kaala St. The screening is sponsored by the Waimea Ocean Film Festival. Folks who arrive early will get free reusable bags from Whole Foods Maret.

Seawater Air Conditioning: A cool idea

July 20th, 2011
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Cold water from the depths of the ocean could help cool buildings in downtown Honolulu.

Cold water from the depths of the ocean could help cool buildings in downtown Honolulu.

Honolulu could very well be at the forefront of technology if it gets a long-talked-about seawater air-conditioning system serving downtown commercial and residential properties to become a reality. Honolulu would be just the right place to put it.

Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning LLC cleared a major hurdle today when it was granted a Conservation District Use Permit from the state to build and operate the offshore portion of its 25,000-ton seawater air conditioning district cooling system.

In one word: Cool.

Ever sit in an un-air-conditioned building, gazing out the window and wishing you could jump into the ocean to cool off? I guess that's the very idea, pumping water from the depths of the ocean (more than 1,700 feet below sea level) into a cooling system to cool off your home or building.

Apparently, it's been done in Sweden. The chilled water is delivered to the building at 44 degrees Fahrenheit 24/7. You can read more about the technology here.

It's an example of how innovation and creativity can help us get off of imported fossil fuels dependency.

Hawaii is the nation's largest per capita consumer of electricity , according to Anders Rydaker, chief operating officer of Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning. The company estimates the technology could save downtown Honolulu tenants millions of dollars and eliminate the need for 178,000 barrels of oil per year.

So many offices in Honolulu are unfortunately designed to be closed-up, air-conditioned boxes (including our office at Restaurant Row). The reality is that offices are going to turn on the air-conditioning year-round, which uses a big chunk of electricity. It would be great to use an alternative source of energy.

The project is scheduled to begin construction this year, and to begin providing chilled water services to customers in 2013. Visit www.honoluluswac.com.

Hagadone: Restoring koa in Hawaii's forests

June 6th, 2011
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Legacy Hardwoods works to restore Hawaii's koa trees. Photo courtesy Walczuk Productions.

Legacy Hardwoods works to restore Hawaii's koa trees. Photo courtesy Walczuk Productions.

The other day, I spotted a Hagadone van outside of our office, so I ran up to the driver and asked if I could give him the stack of magazines I've been saving to recycle. He happily obliged — and I've got another stack piling up already to recycle the next round.

If you've picked up a magazine, brochure,  campaign poster or post card on Oahu, it was probably printed by Hagadone Printing Co. of Honolulu, which was founded in 1995, and is today one of the most environmentally progressive printing companies in the industry.

What you may not know is that Hagadone is also playing a role in keeping koa trees alive through the Hawaiian Legacy Hardwood reforestation project. Hagadone's clients can purchase carbon-offset credits through its partner, natureOffice USA, for specific print jobs.

KTA Super Stores on the Big Island, for instance, pays for carbon offsets for its Super Saver Coupon Book (which, by the way, is printed on paper made with 20 percent recycled paper and envrionmentally friendly inks). Those carbon offsets go towards a reforestation project at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

The amount usually isn't a huge additional cost, according to Hagadone – it's less than 2 cents for an order of 250 business cards. Typically, the cost is within 0.5 to 1.5 percent of the total order. Hagadone just signed a deal last month to become natureOffice's exclusive partner in Hawaii.

By the way, if you've got magazines or brochures you want to recycle, you can drop them off  at Hagadone's recycling center (274 Puuhale Rd.) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays or 8 a.m. to noon on second Saturdays. You can also go to any Lex Brodie's during regular business hours on Oahu. Click here for a list of magazine recycling locations.

Hagadone Printing Co., which publishes practically every magazine and brochure on the island, offers a carbon offsetting program. Photo courtesy Hagadone.

Hagadone Printing Co., which publishes practically every magazine and brochure on the island, offers a carbon offsetting program. Photo courtesy Hagadone.