A greener, more sustainable county

The county’s sustainability program continues to evolve and improve. In the first program year (2012), the county developed a carbon emissions profile for baseline year 2007 and then created an Operations Sustainability and Climate Action Plan in 2013 as a guide for implementing projects and initiatives.  

The plan was crafted to be a living document kept in a working draft format that can be revised and improved over time. Better metrics are envisioned to lead to opportunities to become more sustainable by tracking progress, following the adage that you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

The county’s efforts to becoming more sustainable include specific emphasis on energy efficiency; use of renewable energy; traveling/driving less and driving cleaner; saving water; recycling and cutting waste and buying greener and more environmentally friendly products.  

The efforts are part of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s Holo Holo 2020 initiative that calls for all organizations, businesses, residents and visitors on Kauai to be part of creating an island that is sustainable, values our native culture, has a thriving and healthy economy, cares for all — keiki to kupuna — and has a responsible and user-friendly local government. The sustainability effort also helps the county become a more efficient, fiscally responsible organization.

A staff-level Green Team was formed in 2012 that works on the department and agency level to test, support and implement ways to become more sustainable.  

Several of the more noteworthy efforts initiated by this group included:

1. A refrigerator replacement program where “energy hog” refrigerators were replaced by Energy Star-rated ones, projected to save the county over 19,126 kWh annually worth $7,460.  Simple payback is expected to be about 1.7 years.

2. A disposables to reusables program where offices were encouraged to use washable dishes and utensils and reduce or eliminate disposables going to the landfill, followed by the creation of three loaner kits available for workshops and meetings.

3. A virtual re-use room for usable office supplies and furniture, where descriptions, quantities, pictures and contact information are posted … similar to Craigslist. Offices are now able to post new or used surplus supplies and equipment available for other agencies to request.

Energy use and the vehicle fleet’s use of diesel and gasoline have also been major focus areas for the operations sustainability plan. The County Energy Coordinator is currently developing a comprehensive energy monitoring system across county facilities and working with departments to develop energy reduction plans and track key projects required to achieve energy savings goals.  

The county has also developed a Green Motor Pool where three electric cars and one Prius are available for use by multiple agencies. Future plans include the creation of a larger motor pool that would reduce the county’s fleet size while still serving the needs of county agencies.  

Sustainability also includes a concerted effort to use greener and more environmentally friendly cleaning products, resulting in a safer working environment for the county’s janitorial staff.

The sustainability manager can be reached at gsato@kauai.gov and at (808) 241-4951.

• Glenn H. Sato is sustainability manager with the county of Kauai Office of Economic Development.

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