MSC December 2020 Newsletter

Here are some updates from the UHM Sustainability Council community.  Thanks for all the great work that you are doing!

(1) UH System-wide Waste Audit (Nicole Chatterson)
The UH Office of Sustainability is launching our System-Wide Waste Audit program webpage, which will provide data on the University’s waste composition. The goal is to enable waste reduction on campuses and to enable students to utilize the data from the waste audits for applied learning and applied research projects. The data on the website was collected and compiled collaboratively by students, faculty, and staff from across 7 of UH’s campuses via student-led waste audits that occured from 2017-2019. The website will include 1) a summary of the audit, 2) results and recommendations for waste reduction follow-up actions, 3) a recap of follow-up actions taken, and 4) and downloadable datasets which can be utilized in curriculum or independent student research projects as an applied learning initiative. Look-out for the Waste Audit Program webpage launch by the end of 2020 on For more details, contact Nicole Chatterson at

(2) WAI, Wastewater alternatives and innovations (Dominique Pena)
This semester I was lucky enough to get hired through KUPU ‘Aina Corps to work with WAI, Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations ( addressing the “crappy” situation the State of Hawai’i faces with its 88,000+ cesspools. Together, these cesspools discharge over 53 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each day, presenting a significant risk to our freshwater resources, public health, ocean and the environment. WAI is a fairly recent non-profit that emerged as a response to the passing of Act 125 by the state legislature. This awesome Act mandates the replacement of all cesspools by 2050. However, two main factors signify great challenges for the current panorama. Firstly, the existing workforce needs to expand 20x to meet the required replacement rate. Secondly, most available sanitary technology purchase and installation represents a substantial economic burden for homeowners (cost to upgrade to a conventional septic tank for a family house averages at $23,000). My work, along with very passionate co-workers, has been centered in 5 pillars: seeking readily available financial resources for homeowners; introducing efficient, affordable and eco-friendly innovative sanitation technologies, such as the Cinderella (waterless) Incinerating Toilet recently installed at HIMB on Moku O Loe, and the use of Green Infrastructure, to mention a couple; connecting with key stakeholders to create successful demonstration projects as models, working with a coalition of groups to pass legislation; and lastly, outreach outreach and outreach. WAI also created the Work-4-Water initiative ( along with UH WRRC, UH community Colleges, UH Sea Grant and DOH-Wastewater Branch, serving all 4 major counties in Hawai’i aiding to Jump-starting Hawai‘i’s economy by creating shovel-ready projects to convert cesspools in the most at-risk areas. If you are interested in volunteering or wanting to learn more about Work-4-Water initiative please contact Stuart Coleman at FB and IG @WAIcleanwater. For more details, please email Dominique Pena at

(3) Coral Reef Resilience (Mark Hixon)
My lab is working on ways to increase populations of living lawnmowers — herbivores — to enhance the ecological resilience of our coral reefs.  When corals die from bleaching or other stressors, new coral will grow in that space only if herbivores remove seaweeds.  Yet herbivorous fishes — especially parrotfishes or uhu — are terribly overfished:  no herbivores = no corals in the long run.  We are testing small artificial fish shelters to increase larval fish settlement and survival. For information, please contact Mark Hixon at

(4) Teaching Climate Change Affectively (Krista Hiser)
The UH System Office of Sustainability will offer Teaching Climate Change Affectively on Jan 4, 2021 (time 12-4 pm via Zoom). This train the trainer workshop is for faculty to explore The Work that Reconnects and learn to a) manage their own complex emotions about the climate crisis and b) learn to hold space for students to engage with these topics. The workshop gives immediately applicable classroom activities appropriate in any academic discipline and, for those who are interested, empowers faculty to lead a similar workshop for colleagues on their campus. 40+ faculty attended the workshop last January at UHWO; the workshop is repeatable.  Questions or RSVP to Krista Hiser at

(5) UH Office of Project Delivery on PV, Net Zero, Carbon Neutrality (Sharon Williams)
The UH Office of Project Delivery is working on the following current sustainability projects: (a) PPA PV – 14 PV installation projects on campus parking and building surfaces (Lower Parking Structure was first). (b) PV Power Plant Project — study of potential PV installations across UHM to get the campus to Net Zero by 2035 (c) Strategic Energy Management Plan — develop a plan to guide strategic decisions regarding all facility updates (not just PV) in alignment with campus goals and mandates to achieve NZE by 2035 and Carbon neutrality by 2050. For more details, please contact Sharon Williams (

(6) Hawaii State Energy Office on the IECC. (Howard Wiig)
I’m in the Hawai‘i State Energy Office, energy efficiency branch.  My kuleana is energy codes.  We (the state and all the counties) recently passed the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which is about 33% more efficient than the 2006 IECC which it replaces. The 2015 IECC is projected to reduce energy bill statewide by some $1.4 billion over the next 20 years. We’re now working on the 2018 IECC which will be about 3% more efficient than the 2015 IECC.  The code includes UH buildings—new and retrofitted.

(7) Climate Change across the Computer Science Curriculum (Philip Johnson)
Inspired by an essay by Krista Hiser, I started an initiative last week within the Department of Information and Computer Sciences to expose students to climate change issues by providing climate change related data and problems in various ICS courses.  So far, 8 ICS faculty have expressed interest in modifying their courses to include problems involving climate change data. Now, we just need to collaborate with faculty with access to climate change-related data!  If you are a climate scientist interested in helping us create scientifically valid problem sets for computer science students, please contact Philip Johnson (

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