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Ideas at the Speed of Business

HAVING A GREEN TIME! WISH YOU WERE HERE

You’ve reduced, reused and recycled in your little corner of the planet, but now that you’re on vacation, you’re burning up carbon like there’s no tomorrow.

For the past four years, a small, Maui-based rental car company has been giving environmentally conscious visitors the opportunity to be a part of the solution even while they’re having the time of their lives.

photo courtesy Bio-Beetle

Bio-Beetle, located just outside the Kahului International Airport, hit the road in January 2003, with one diesel-powered Volkswagen Beetle and a full tank of B99.9 biodiesel. Today, the company boasts a fleet of 20 cars in Kahului and an additional nine cars at a Los Angeles branch, which opened its doors early last year.

At the Maui location, customers can choose from a stable of diesel-burning Volkswagen Beetles, Golfs and Jettas, as well as a 2005 Jeep Liberty SUV. Rates for a one-week rental range from $299 to $349, depending on the model. The extremely clean-burning fuel is available at only one location, Pacific Biodiesel, where it is refined from used cooking oil. However, since the fuel-efficient cars average between 400 to 600 miles per tank, running out of gas hasn’t been a problem.

“The farthest anyone can drive from our single fueling station is 70 miles in any direction, so they’re never too far away,” says Shaun Stenshol, who owns Bio-Beetle with Pamela Miedtke-Wolf. “And some people drive a lot. They’re just thrilled to be on vacation and not part of the problem.”

- David K. Choo


NOT YOUR TUTU’S MUUMUU

photo courtesy Muumuu Heaven

What happens when you take apart a vintage aloha shirt and sew it back into a modern-looking dress? You get Muumuu Heaven, a new Kailua boutique owned by Deborah and Eric Mascia.

Muumuu Heaven’s floaty skirts and dresses have grabbed the attention of Hollywood stars and national magazines, including Glamour, not only for their unique styles but also for their environmental friendliness. Everything is made from recyclable material. Every business decision at Muumuu Heaven is “weighed against our idea of social and corporate responsibility,” say the founders. Even the store’s furniture and fixings are second-hand.

Muumuu Heaven adds to the preservation of Hawaii’s coral reefs by contributing one percent of its sales to an environmental initiative called 1% For The Planet. Half-a-dozen Hawaii businesses belong to that organization.

- Cathy S. Cruz


WE’RE MEDIOCRE

Every year, the Environmental Council, a citizen board appointed by the governor, assesses how healthy our environment is and how successful our state is at protecting it. Here are Hawaii’s grades in some key categories and our overall score. The full report card can be viewed on the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s Web site under annual reports.

INDICATOR GRADE
% renewable/alternative energy E
Greenhouse gas emissions D
% of treated wastewater reused C
% waste diverted D
Hazardous waste generated B
Acres of watershed partnerships B
Air quality A
Number of impaired streams D
Drinking water quality A
Acres of conservation land B
Number of oil/chemical spills B
% of state funding for environment D
Number of motor vehicles per capita E
Bikeway miles E
Number of bus boardings C
OVERALL GRADE C

 


A DREAM DEFERRED

When the Hawaiian Energy House was built in 1975 on a far corner of the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, it was a bold demonstration of the wonders of ’70s self-sufficiency. Outfitted with a solar water-heating system, a windmill and gray-water recovery system, the Energy House could support the needs of a small family with minimal environmental impact.

OPEN HOUSE: The Hawaii Energy House when it first opened in 1975. photos courtesy: American Institute of Architects

But the home, built as a symbol of Hawaii’s bright future, eventually succumbed to the realities of its dim-witted present. In the 1980s, it was converted into conventional offices and in the ’90s, it served as a storage shed.

All hope is not lost, though.

In a move befitting the sustainability movement, the Energy House is now set to be recycled. Later this summer, it will be restored to its former green glory, thanks to a yearlong effort coordinated by assistant architecture professor Stephen Meder. The restoration project, involving students and faculty from more than a half-dozen different departments and colleges on campus, will address not only technological and design issues but social and economic concerns as well.

“We’ll be upgrading the home with new technologies, but leaving the structure largely intact,” says Meder. “We’re treating it like a historic preservation project, but we’ll eventually work with other groups, including the business community, to see if the house can address some of the state’s affordable-housing issues.”

Hopefully, this time it will prove to be a sustainable idea.

- David K. Choo



Hawaii Business defines often-spoken words, new and old, to help you make sense of what's being said.

GORACLE: Environmentalists coined this nickname for Al Gore after he became the spokesman for the movement to stop global warming. Not to be outdone, opponents of the former vice president invented a word, too: Gorons, for the people who believe Gore’s rants about the ozone.

-Scott Radway
Email confusing words to hbeditorial@pacificbasin.net


REAL ESTATE: GREEN ACRES

Looking for a way to reduce your Shaq-size carbon footprint? For $2.57 million you can live off the land, and the land just might be better off for it. This 2,200-square-foot home, on nearly 16 acres above Captain Cook on the Big Island, is almost an island unto itself – providing all of its own electrical and water needs thanks to state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic and 130,000-gallon water catchment systems. In addition, with more than 40 citrus and exotic fruit trees and a large vegetable garden, the property can also provide a small family with much of its food needs.

87-3270 Mamalahoa Hwy.

Bedrooms: Four
Bathrooms: 3.5
Living Area: 2,200 sq. ft.
Total Lot Size: 15.98 acres
Price: $2,575,000

photo courtesy of Kathleena and Richard McDonald

“If we were vegetarian, we would never have to leave,” says homeowner Kathleen McDonald. “Well, actually, we still could be fully sustainable with all the wild pigs running around here.”

The McDonalds’ homestead is even economically sustainable, featuring a 160-tree cacao orchard with another 25 trees ready to plant in the nursery and 80 more seedlings expected to go in the ground in a month or so. The farm also includes a large garage complex replete with farm workers’ quarters and power plant.

But living in harmony with the land doesn’t mean giving up some of the creature comforts of modern life. The steel-framed home features granite countertops, a Sub-Zero fridge and a six-burner Wolf range. “It [a sustainable home] was a dream we had, and in Hawaii you can actually do it,” says McDonald. “This is a model of what is possible.”

- David K. Choo

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