By T. Foster Jones
THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS contain an amazing richness of flora and fauna spread across
this unique volcanic archipelago. People are
drawn here in huge numbers every year to visit
or to live. This popularity has prompted concern and a renewed focus on ways to preserve
the islands’ beauty for generations of visitors
and residents to come.
The Hawaii Green Business Program
(HGBP; energy.hawaii.gov) assists and recognizes businesses that strive to operate in an
environmentally and socially responsible
manner, and a number of programs and
incentives are encouraging hotels to ramp up
their conservation efforts toward creating a
sustainable Hawaii. This can include energy
and water conservation, waste reduction,
natural resource preservation, community
involvement and cultural preservation.
Here’s a look at programs and policies—
some of which offer chances for guests to participate—that some hotels and resorts around
the islands have already implemented.
Showing initiative(s) (Maui)
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, a Hawaii
Green Business Award recipient, has instituted a wide range of hotel initiatives.
Sustainable dining features include
organically managed gardens with 70 varieties of herbs, 100 selections of vegetables and
35 fruit trees (a catch system on the gutters
collects rainwater for irrigating the gardens
and the lush landscape). LED ceiling lights
are installed throughout the property, and all
single-use products are made from non-GMO corn, potato or sugarcane and are biodegradable and compostable.
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of
the Environment program through The Ritz-Carlton offers an environmental and cultural
education center with excursions led by
expert naturalists. This program seeks to
inspire guests to live a more sustainable life
and to gain a greater understanding of the
relationships of land to sea, humans to nature,
people to people and present to future.
The Ambassadors program creates opportunities for participants to learn about Hawaii’s
unique ecosystems while demonstrating their
connection to the larger global systems.
“LEEDer” in its field (Oahu)
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Ko
Olina, recently obtained LEED Silver certification through the U.S. Green Building
Council for implementing environmentally
friendly construction practices and building
systems. Aulani is the first resort in Hawaii to
obtain this environmental certification.
To obtain LEED certification, buildings
must pass a rigorous checklist of sustainability
points, including accomplishments in water
efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials
and resources, and awareness and education.
LEED certification is also about being stewards of the environment with sensitivity to
impacts on the natural world.
Enriching experiences (Kauai)
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa’s Enrich
Program gives guests the opportunity to
enhance their vacation by learning something
new while giving back to the island community
in meaningful ways. The resort has partnered
with organizations that will provide guests with
a unique volunteer experience.
Plant lovers can work in the garden and
be rewarded by contributing to the survival of
plants, ecosystems and cultural knowledge.
Animal enthusiasts can visit the Kauai
Humane Society and be a Cat Cuddler or a
Dog Buddy, or even take a dog on a field trip
to hike, go to the beach or just hang out.
Guests of all ages and abilities who enjoy
hiking and being in the forest can participate
in hands-on forest restoration projects in
Kokee State Park, eradicating invasive species and encouraging precious native plants to
thrive. The Surfrider Foundation works to
protect the ocean through organized beach
Recycle of life (Hawaii)
At Hilton Waikoloa Village, the HI- 5
Beverage Container Recycling Program has
been in effect for more than 10 years, recovering close to 1 million beverage containers,
including aluminum cans, glass bottles and
Local pig farms benefit from its creative
food waste program, which provides more
than 30 tons of feed per month while
reducing the amount of waste that goes into
landfills. A partnership with a local biodiesel
organization helps to recycle 500 to 750 gallons of cooking oil each month. The hotel’s
2005 investment in a baling press allows the
hotel to recycle three to four 500-pound bales
of cardboard every week.
Gold to green (Hawaii)
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year,
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is paying it forward
by launching a generous 50 Acts of Aloha
giving campaign. In that spirit, the hotel, in
partnership with the Mauna Kea Forest
Restoration Project and Hawaii Forest & Trail,
has launched an environmental and cultural
Employees, visitors and guests are encouraged to participate in numerous ways, including signing up for a bird-watching excursion,
which will include volunteer time to plant
mamane trees or collect tree seeds in an effort
to restore the habitat and food source of the
critically endangered palila bird, found only
on the southwest slopes of Mauna Kea. C
Hotels and businesses take
steps toward sustainability
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers packages to Oahu, Maui,
Kauai and Hawaii Island. For details and to
book, click “Travel” at Costco.com or call
Eco-awareness outings, such as exploring
tide pools through the Ambassadors of the
Environment program, are just a sample
of the many ways hotels are promoting