MSC September 2023 Meeting

The September 2023 meeting of the UHM Sustainability Council was held in HIG 210 from 3-4pm on Wednesday, September 20. 

This was the first in-person meeting since January, 2020. It was great to see people face-to-face again. As well as the delicious plant-based snacks provided by Sodexo! Unfortunately, my note-taking skills really atrophied over the past few years, so here are just a few highlights from the meeting; I apologize for not taking better notes.

1. Environmental Justice RIO

Aya Kimura shared that there is a (relatively new) student group focused on Environmental Justice issues. Here’s a nice article in Ka Leo from last spring with more details:

They are always looking for more members! For details, see their insta: @environmentaljusticeuhm

2. Updates from the UH Energy Office

Miles Topping and Daryll Tay provided an update on UH energy management efforts. Basically, good news, bad news.  Good news: infrastructure projects for both energy generation and management have resulted so far in $5M in avoided costs. Bad news: while UH is actually trending downward in the amount of energy bought from HECO, energy expenses are still rising. 

Other good news:  Miles has open positions to hire students (studying either STEM or non-STEM disciplines) to work on energy-related projects. If you are a student with a passion for sustainability as well as for making a few bucks, contact Miles at Tell him the UHM Sustainability Council sent you. These are SECE positions starting at around $15/hour.

3. Updates from ISR

Ketty Loeb from the UH Institute for Sustainability and Resilience ( shared that the new BA program in Sustainability is going well: around 75 students are participating and there are classes being offered with the sustainability designation from over 33 departments and schools. In addition, they are offering a certificate in sustainability, as well as a bachelor’s-to-masters program through the Department of Geography. 

In addition, ISR, Lyon Arboretum, and the Honolulu Museum of Arts are co-sponsoring a free film series this fall.  The first film is “The Rights of Nature” and is playing this Friday:

For more details, contact Ketty at

4. Updates from Sodexo

Donna Ojiri shared that a focus for this fall is food insecurity, and as part of that they are donating 500 food swipes to UH’s Food Vault Hawaii ( They have also implemented “Value Items” in various menus which are healthy foods below $7.  Another focus is plant-based eating, and their goal is for their menus to be 40% plant-based by 2025.

Donna also noted that a major barrier to returning to reusable plates and cutlery in the dining halls is a lack of dishwashers!  If you are a student who wants to support sustainability, get free food, and $12-$13/hour for working a few hours washing dishes on-campus during meal times, please contact Donna at Tell her the UHM Sustainability Council sent you.  (Editor’s note: my first job in college was washing dishes. It’s actually pretty fun and a great way to work off scholastic stress.) Also, this is not a SECE position so will not count toward your 20/hr a week maximum for employment.)

5. Energy House 

Travis Idol from NREM shared that the UHM Energy House has been officially condemned. The Energy House has a long and fascinating history. Here are a couple of articles with more information:

It’s not clear what’s next. If you are interested in the future of the Energy House, please contact Travis ( 

6. Brainstorming 

We spent some time discussing ideas for sustainability projects. Here are some of the things we came up with:

* Dorm move-out trash reduction.  A lot of useful stuff becomes available during move-out.  We want to check to make sure recycling/donation services are in place. 

* Waste audits/reduction.  There is a lot of student interest in waste-related projects. It would be good to figure out ways to harness this energy.

* Educational signage on campus. There are lots of “subtle” sustainability related infrastructure on campus. Appropriate signage could provide education to the campus community.

* Field trips!  We thought it would be fun to combine meetings with visiting sustainability initiatives on campus. For example, the FROG buildings, or some of the PV installations. 

7. Help revitalize the UHMSC mailing list. 

While this UHMSC mailing list has over 300 subscribers, we suspect that there are many newer members of the UHM campus community who might be interested in us. One easy thing you can do to help facilitate sustainability at UHM is to forward this email to any of your friends who you think might be interested, and let them know that they can be added to the mailing list by contacting me ( This mailing list is moderated and very low volume (a dozen emails per year), so it won’t be a burden on their inbox. Even if you can’t attend meetings, my hope is that membership in the mailing list will facilitate new connections and collaborations in our community.

8. Help revitalize the UHMSC website

After three years of pandemic-related neglect, there are two areas of the UHMSC website ( that especially need attention:

* The home page timeline has no entries after 2018. That’s crazy. If you have ideas for sustainability-related “milestones” that would be appropriate for the timeline, please send them to me ( along with a URL for further information. 

* The “get involved” page ( is embarrassingly out of date. Would anyone like to volunteer to help determine the current active sustainability-related organizations on campus? You could (for example) create a google doc and I could update the website from that. 

9. Upcoming meetings

I heard from a few folks that they have conflicts with a Wed 3pm meeting time. So, the current thought is to alternate between Wednesdays and Thursdays.   Here’s a tentative schedule for the remaining meetings this year:

Thursday, November 16, 3pm
Wednesday, January 17, 3pm 
Thursday, March 13, 3pm

Any thoughts on this, please let me know (

That’s it!  See you in November!


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