College lands climate award

PUHI — The Hoouluwehi Sustainable Living Institute was at the heart of the 2013 Second Nature Prestigious Climate Leadership Award presented to Kauai Community College.

Kauai CC was recognized Wednesday for its sustainability efforts in the “Associate/Tribal College” category based, in part, on its greenhouse gas reduction initiatives implemented in partnership with Hoouluwehi.

“For Hawaiians, I believe sustainability is in our blood,” said Imai Aiu, special assistant to the housing director of the County of Kauai. “It was taught to all of us by one of our kupuna who reminded us to malama aina. It was bred into us as people who crossed thousands of miles of ocean to find tiny new lands and knew how precious they were. It was born into us as the younger siblings of Haloa, our roots and our life are in the soil and water.”

Erik Knutzen, director of Hoouluwehi, said the project that had been years in planning before being launched in 2011 deals with four major areas, including housing, energy, waste management and food production.

Knutzen said Kauai’s challenge is daunting. About 90 percent of the island’s food is imported and 91 percent of its energy is produced with off-island fossil fuel.

“It’s exciting to be a part of this important work in serving our students and our community with these sustainable living solutions,” he said.

Kauai CC was selected from more than 670 members whittled down to 20 finalists. From there, awards were presented to 10 colleges, Kauai CC being one of only two Associate’s Colleges being honored.

“I was prepared with speeches from well-known people,” Knutzen said. “But the real heroes are sitting right here.”

Kauai CC Chancellor Helen Cox said receiving the award serves to reinforce the college’s main goals.

“The Hoouluwehi project is just one way Kauai CC responded to the community,” Cox said.

The Second Nature awards are presented annually to signatory institutions of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which demonstrate innovative and advanced leadership in education for sustainability and climate mitigation and adaptation, Abercrombie said.

Cox said she is pleased with the partnership Kauai CC has with the County of Kauai through the affordable housing project and the Hoouluwehi center at Kaapuni.

“Whether it is about the recycling and repurposing of entire 40-foot containers with our carpentry students converting them to affordable housing, embedding sustainability concepts into our curriculum, or partnering with the county to conceptualize an entire sustainable community, there are so many who are involved and selflessly contributing to the success of these projects,” Knutzen said.


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