Monday, July 28, 2014         


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State making strides in reducing itsenergy consumption

By Estrella Seese


Cynthia Oi should be commended for encouraging energy conservation in her column ("Choice of light bulbs a tiny step in the big move toward conservation," Star-Advertiser, Under the Sun, June 2). State agencies have been doing just that, and we wanted to share the results of our efforts.

Last year, state offices' electric bills fell by $20 million, a 12.1 percent savings for taxpayers, because of energy-efficiency initiatives. This is the third year the state has been able to lower electricity consumption. Since a 2007 peak, we've saved 59 million kilowatt hours, enough to power more than 98,000 homes.

Utilizing efficient lighting contributed significantly because lighting can take up 20 to 40 percent of a building's electricity needs. Air conditioning costs, another large expense, are less because of higher temperature settings, tinted windows and replacement of aging, inefficient systems.

Some state buildings are reducing utility bills with solar energy. Using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism provided $2.9 million for more than 1,000 photovoltaic panels on the Kalanimoku Building in downtown Honolulu.

Our energy conservation work is being noticed nationally. In 2010, DBEDT's Lead by Example (LBE) initiative was named by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy as among "18 State-Led Energy Efficiency Programs Recognized as Best in U.S." LBE also placed among the Council's "Five Top Energy-Efficiency Award Winning Programs."

Because of the substantial number of state green projects contracted to local companies, Hawaii is now second in the nation in state energy-savings performance contracts, according to the national Energy Services Coalition, which supports public/private financing for energy-efficiency improvements in state facilities.

Thirteen state buildings have been so successful in lowering energy use that they are now ENERGY STAR®-certified, meaning that they are among the nation's top 25 percent high-performing facilities recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency. ENERGY STAR® buildings can cut energy use in half and save some 30 percent in electricity bills.

The state is targeting "green building" for all new construction and major renovations. As much as possible, new building projects must now meet standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, an internationally recognized green building certification system. Seven state buildings are already LEED verified and certified, with 52 more in the process of verification and certification.

The efficiency improvements being deployed now will result in millions of dollars more in utility savings that the state can reinvest in much-needed services for residents.

For example, energy-efficient installations in 10 downtown state buildings, such as the state Capitol, will save $64 million over the 20-year life of the systems installed. The state's $26 million investment in four Department of Public Safety facilities will cut 36 percent in electricity and 53 percent in water and sewer consumption.

We are making great strides in meeting Hawaii‘s goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030 through energy efficiency, generating savings and enabling services for our people.

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