West Hawai‘i Civic Center Approaches Zero Waste

Hawaii County’s path to Zero Waste just got a little shorter.

A recent recycling audit of the West Hawai`i Civic Center (WHCC), home to offices for 11 County agencies, found it to be almost completely a Zero Waste facility.

The audit, conducted in October, established that 98 percent of the waste generated at the facility by County employees is being recycled or reused instead of being thrown into our landfills. The diversion rate for the entire facility, including public-generated waste, is 90 percent.

Zero Waste is a way of life, demonstrated by the ancient Hawaiians, that promotes the goal of reducing the amount of material we throw away.  Instead, it reincorporates materials of one system for use for another system. In this way, we greatly reduce our impact on Hawai’i Island’s natural environment and how much rubbish we generate, protect Hawai’i Island’s natural environment, preserve our resources for future generations, and save our community tax dollars.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the County and for our island.  Only with the support of all of the staff at the Civic Center , we successfully demonstrated that zero waste is possible,” said Angela Kang, West Hawaii Recycling Specialist for the County who conducted the audit of waste generated at the Civic Center.

When opened in January 2011, the WHCC implemented its Zero Waste Program, diverting nearly all of its solid waste from the landfill with its “Blue Bin” mixed recycling bins to divert paper, plastics and metals. Employees also use on-site composting bins to divert food scraps and green waste. HI-5 and office equipment collections take care of e-waste, batteries, ink/toner cartridges and other recyclable materials.

Kang has worked closely with County workers on new and different ways to reduce, recycle and reuse the rubbish they produce and was pleased with how excited and committed they were to making the program a success.

“The County of Hawai`i , Zero Waste Program gives us the opportunity to take the lead in eliminating much of our daily trash. By separating items to be recycled, we can take the lead by protecting our fragile environment on the Island of Hawaii and the State,” said Len Losalio, Liquor Investigator with the Department of Liquor Control with the West Hawai`i Enforcement Division.

The 80,000-square foot Civic Center is located on seven acres in the Villages of La`i`opua in Kealakehe.  As a part of the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification currently under review by the US Green Building Council, buildings are designed to control temperature and lighting with systems to reduce heat gain and energy consumption throughout the complex. A highlight of the LEED certification is the 250 kW photovoltaic system atop the center’s parking.  This system is the first phase of the goal to achieve Net Zero Energy and Zero Carbon Emissions.  This photovoltaic system, first of its kind for government facilities in the State of Hawai ‘i provides 100% solar energy by harnessing the power of the sun, saving the County $46,000 dollars a year in electricity cost.  Other features include water-efficient landscaping, use of recycled and certified wood products, a construction waste management plan to divert waste away from landfills, bicycle parking and electric vehicle charging stations for future use.

The Hawai`i County Council adopted the principles of Zero Waste as a long-term goal in December 2008.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi has committed the County to making the WHCC Zero Waste program a model for expansion to County facilities island-wide.For more information on this program or any County recycling programs and services, please visit the County’s Solid Waste Division website at www.hawaiizerowaste.org.

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