Leaders vow
for isles to be
efficiency model

A workshop examines energy
sustainability for Hawaii's future

By Diana Leone

Gov. Linda Lingle repeated her campaign promise to have Hawaii getting 20 percent -- or more -- of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.

University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle pledged that energy efficiency measures on the Manoa campus will reduce its electric consumption by 30 percent.

Mayor Jeremy Harris called for a paradigm shift from "consumption and waste" to recycling and efficiency.

And a crowd of 1,000 at a workshop yesterday at the Dole Cannery Ballroom applauded these leaders' vows to make Hawaii a model of sustainability for the world.

Harris boiled the concept of sustainability down to, "You don't drain the pond to catch the fish."

Lingle emphasized that her goal isn't just to make Hawaii more energy-independent and economically viable for people who live here now, but also for the thousands of Hawaii natives who have moved to the mainland and want to return.

The subtext of the four-hour event was that sustainability is not a foreign word, not a dirty word and not an impossible dream. Several presenters linked the wiser use of resources with avoiding going to war for oil, as it appears the country may be doing in Iraq.

Attendee Henry Eng said he heard several new techniques for recycling wastewater that interest him. As a Campbell Estate community development manager, he's worked to develop Kapolei as water- and energy-efficiently as possible.

UH Professor Bruce Barnes was surprised to learn from presenter state Rep. Hermina Morita (D, Hanalei) that the technology exists to run vehicles with fuel cells.

"I didn't know they were that far along with it," he said.

Morita spoke of her vision for Hawaii to become the first "hydrogen-based economy in the Pacific."

People need to plan for 100 years from now -- and realize it's not so far off, said speaker John Bullard, president of the Woods Hole, Mass.-based Sea Education Association, which offers college credits on research sailing ships.

"I'd bet some of our grandchildren will be alive 100 years from now and they may be wondering what granddad was doing" about environmental problems, he said.

One key to planning with an eye to the future, Bullard said, is to "remove the concept of 'away.'"

"You can't move away or throw away anything," he said. "There is no 'away.'"

Event moderator Noel Brown, president of Friends of the United Nations, agreed. "In this global era, no island is an island unto itself," Brown said. "What happens to the whole likewise happens to the parts, and sometimes, as in the case of global warming, it happens to the parts (like islands) first."

The workshop was an outgrowth of the Vision Team and regional planning sessions the city has held over the past few years. Harris said the city plans to host a workshop on each of the five topics outlined yesterday: land use and agriculture, energy, natural resources, economy and transportation. A sustainable master plan for Oahu will be the end result.

The speakers "covered the subject matter very well," said Ben Kama, executive director of the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission. "I still wonder how it translates for people in the community, the Joe next door, about 'How does that relate to me?'"

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