Kaua'i CC receives prestigious Climate Leadership Award

Awards recognize colleges and universities for innovation and leadership in sustainability

Kauaʻi Community College
Posted: Jun 7, 2013

L to R: Ho'ouluwehi Dir. Eric Knutzen, Chancellor Helen Cox & Housing Dir. Special Assist. Imai Aiu
L to R: Ho'ouluwehi Dir. Eric Knutzen, Chancellor Helen Cox & Housing Dir. Special Assist. Imai Aiu

Lihue, HI – Kaua'i Community College has been selected to receive a 2013 Climate Leadership Award by Second Nature, a national nonprofit that works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society by transforming higher education.  The video highlighting the college’s efforts can be viewed at http://www.kauai.hawaii.edu.

The awards are presented annually to signatory institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) that demonstrate innovative and advanced leadership in education for sustainability and climate mitigation and adaptation.

“These exemplary institutions have shown us that bold action on climate is not only possible but pragmatic," said David Hales, president of Second Nature. “Their operational, educational, and community initiatives are fueling the thought behind what is both necessary and achievable in addressing climate change, and the labors of these leading institutions will benefit all of society.”

This year, the award program's fourth, drew the most competitive pool of nominations to date.  The winners were among 20 finalists chosen by Second Nature’s board and represent the diversity of higher education institutions across the US.

"Realistically, our challenge is daunting. Kaua'i imports approximately 90 percent of its food and produces 91 percent of its energy with off-island fossil fuel of which 85 percent is imported from foreign countries,” said Eric Knutzen, director of Ho'ouluwehi, the Sustainable Living Institute of Kaua'i. “What is so inspiring is the positive attitude of our students, faculty and administrators, who believe that we can make a difference together – now.”

Kaua'i CC Chancellor Helen Cox added: “This is a very important moment for the College. Many people’s hearts, minds and hands went into the creation of Ho'ouluwehi and the projects that are now underway. This award recognizes both our efforts and our successes. There is so much more work ahead of us, and undoubtedly some stumbles, but we are eager to get to it. We're particularly pleased with the great partnership we've developed with the County of Kaua'i through the affordable housing project. I want to especially thank all those who have helped us come this far. Mahalo nui loa.” 

"It's exciting to be a part of this important work in serving our students and our community with these sustainable living solutions,” said Knutzen. “Whether it is about the recycling and repurposing of entire 40-foot containers with our carpentry students converting them to affordable housing, embedding sustainability concepts into our curriculum or partnering with the county to conceptualize an entire sustainable community—so many are involved and selflessly contributing to the success of these projects. The award is truly earmarked for so many and all who are involved. We're all humbly appreciative of the positive feedback the award provides.”

“For Hawaiians, I believe sustainability is in our blood. It was taught to all of us by one of our kupuna who reminded us to malama 'aina, “ said Imai Aiu, special assistant to the housing director for the County of Kaua'i. “It was bred into us as people who crossed thousands of miles of ocean to find tiny new lands and knew how precious they were. It was born into us as the younger siblings of Haloa, our roots and our life are in the soil and water.”

Kaua'i CC signed the ACUPCC in October 2011. Kaua'i CC’s nomination for the Climate Leadership Award was based in part on its greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. The ACUPCC network celebrated its 5th year with a 25 percent (10.2 million MtCO2e) reduction in gross greenhouse gas emissions by its network. Based on current projections, signatories are expected to reach a 93 percent reduction by 2050. More details about the network's progress can be found at http://www.secondnature.org/acupcc-progress.

Ho'ouluwehi is operated by Kaua'i CC under the direction of Knutzen and Chancellor Cox who is the chair of the eight member Visionary and Cultural Leadership group made up of community leaders. The principles of the mission statement guide the education learning focus of the sustainability institute.