UH Hilo’s PV array system has a capacity of about 500 KWand is distributed among the Student Services Center, the College of Business and Economics facility, the Mookini Library and the Performing Arts Center. The array saves the university approximately $300,000 per year in electricity costs.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is continuing to take the lead in many initiatives that focus on clean energy and sustainability. There are many projects and initiatives happening on campus that stretch across a wide variety of sectors. Some of these projects include repair and renovation, moving the university toward a more sustainable and green future. A major goal of these projects is to become carbon neutral by 2050—the renovations and changes are helping to reach this goal.

UH Hilo is continually reducing its negative environmental impact and striving to be ecologically restorative in our campus buildings, systems and operations,” says Jerry Watanabe, director of the UH Hilo Office of Facilities Planning and Construction. Watanabe helps to make these initiatives, whether large or small, possible.

The big plan

A student employee in the Office of the Chancellor points out the energy saving lighting installed in early 2016. Photo by Claudia Hagan, UH Hilo Stories

The energy savings projects at UH Hilo are initiated by different parties on and off campus—larger scale projects tend to be initiated by the UH System. However, maintenance and smaller projects are more of a campus effort and can come from students, faculty and/or staff.

Since there are numerous campus renovations and updates, funding can be tricky. However, each year UH Hilo submits a budget for projects to the State Legislature for approval. The Energy Reinvestment Projects Account (ERPA) was established by the university to help with funding of the energy saving projects.

“This account is intended for planning, design, construction and equipment of retrofit and production projects with a calculated payback period of less than 10 years,” explains Watanabe.

Leading the way

UH Hilo is leading the UH System in sub-metering and baseline data recording, bi-level lighting, energy requirements in design contracts, reinvestment account, and Hawaiʻi Energy Rebates. Managing ERPA, which UH Hilo established and keeping track of savings from energy efficiency improvements falls under the Office of Facilities Planning and Construction and has become the model for the UH System.

Watanabe says his goal is, “to meet or exceed the university’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.”

With this mindset and ambition, UH Hilo could achieve its goal and much more thus not only benefiting UH, but bettering the community and environment.

For more about how UH Hilo handles battery storage, lighting and energy rebates, read the full article at UH Hilo Stories.

—A UH Hilo Stories article written by Anne Rivera, a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor

This article is part of a series on curriculum and projects at UH Hilo focusing on sustainability. Read the previous stories: