UHM Sustainability Policy Statement (October, 2012)

The University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (UHM) campus has a rich history of research, curriculum development, and stakeholder activism on issues of sustainability. The 2003 UHM Sustainability Charter outlined nine broad areas of commitment that have since been embraced widely by the campus and in October 2006 the UHM Chancellor’s Energy Summit produced an Energy Policy that includes goals and a plan for implementation that the campus has continued to use as a guiding document for planning. Both the Sustainability Charter and 2006 benchmarking remain vital to our progress toward energy self sufficiency and help guide implementation of the Sustainability Initiative developed in 2012 to help the campus meet sustainability related progress indicators set forth in Achieving Our Destiny: The 2011-2015 UHM Strategic Plan.


Hawai‘i is the most fossil fuel dependent state in the US–nearly 90% of the state’s energy is derived from fossil fuel, roughly 75% of which comes from foreign sources. This has produced the highest electricity rates in the US and jeopardizes the state’s security, economy and environment. It also contributes to global warming and associated impacts on Pacific island nations. Despite our location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, our water resources are very limited and Hawaii’s ecosystems and environments are increasingly threatened by draught and the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change.

Meanwhile, Hawaii is one of two states with a climate change law, (Act 234, 2007) and it has the most aggressive renewable energy policy in the country (Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative 2008). UH researchers are performing internationally recognized work in the areas of climate change, renewable energy technologies, environmental preservation, sustainable food production and more. UHM curricula has been educating students on the principles of sustainability and providing them with tools to address the looming issues that they will face upon graduation as purposeful professionals and engaged citizens. Native Hawaiian values can more deeply inform and frame the advancement of sustainability for our campus.

It is our opportunity and obligation to establish sustainability principles for campus operations, research and educational missions and to set data-based goals and create new, transferrable models for college campuses throughout the country and demonstrate 21st Century solutions for Hawaii and beyond. As the intellectual epicenter of the state and region and a widely respected Land, Sea, and Space Grant institution UH can and should be the engine for large-scale, long-term beneficial change. The flagship Manoa campus has the responsibility to demonstrate cost effective energy conservation and renewable energy strategies on its campus and by so doing, protect state resources, improve the quality of life for the campus community and demonstrate solutions to the larger community.

Energy Policy Goals and Benchmarks

The UHM is second only to the military as the largest consumer of electricity in Hawai‘i. The October 2006 Energy Policy set goals of 30% reduction of campus-wide energy use by 2012, based on the 2003 Campus Energy Benchmark. It is not yet clear whether this initial benchmark was met although significant progress in reducing energy consumption was clearly made and overall energy consumption at UHM has decreased. So despite unanticipated infrastructure and management challenges, the Manoa campus will continue to work to meet the goals set in 2006:

  • A 30% Reduction in campus-wide energy use by 2012, based on the 2003 UHM Energy Benchmark
  • A 50% Reduction in campus-wide energy use by 2015, based on the 2003 UHM Energy Benchmark
  • 25% of campus-wide energy use supplied by renewable sources by 2020
  • By 2050, UHM will achieve self-sufficiency in energy and water, and will treat and transform its wastes into useable resources through its actions to conserve and re-use, and through its adoption of renewable energy technologies

These goals are ambitious but not unattainable. Meeting them will require the coordinated efforts of many people. The UHM Sustainability Council will continue to advise the Chancellor on integration and implementation of UHM sustainability projects, and along with the Office of Facilities Management and the Office of Physical, Environmental and Long-Rang Planning, will provide reporting and ‘best practices’ oversight and assist with overall accountability guidance. The Strategic Planning Committee will engage stakeholders in developing and implementing initiatives designed to further address vital sustainability objectives in areas including but not limited to:


  • Maximize energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities on the campus


  • Maximize water conservation, water efficiency and best management practices methods for storm water storage, recharge and reuse on the campus

Sustainably Designed Buildings

  • Embody the values of the university in the design and operation of the built environment
  • Meet or exceed LEED Silver standards in all new construction and renovations.
  • Optimize support for the academic, research, student life and cultural campus mission and exemplify transferable sustainable solutions in all campus facilities including classrooms, offices, laboratories, assembly, auxiliary, athletics and support services.


  • Work with State, City, and regional stakeholders to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips to the campus, support optional modes of transportation, and encourage a bicycle and pedestrian friendly campus and community.

Material Waste

  • Reduce, recycle and/or eliminate all green waste, electronic waste, food waste, use of single use plastics, and green house gas emitting materials.
  • Institute Green Purchasing Policy for all supplies, equipment and building materials.

Climate Change

  • Support research, teaching and outreach that bring science to the issues of climate change and policy concerned with climate change.
  • Recognize the cross-cutting effects of climate change in its teaching, energy and water use, facility design and operation, transportation policy and material use and consider the impacts of climate change as a catalyst for campus policies and operations.


  • Support research that brings science to the issues of sustainability and related public policy, practice and implementation.

Degrees in Sustainability Studies

  • Establish multidisciplinary BA, BS, MA, MS and Ph.D. degrees in Sustainability Studies.

Set an Example and Serve the Community

  • Work cooperatively with the community to create environmental preservation, social equity and long-term energy and resource solutions for the State and region.
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