Green Steps Forward: A Tour of HCC’s “Green Initiatives”

As a new employee, walking into the Hawai‘i Convention Center everyday is both a proud and humbling experience. With a vast facility spanning about 1.1 million square feet, I often wondered how one of the most progressive meeting facilities in the world is managed and maintained.

I was fortunate enough to join a Back-of-the-House Tour held recently for the planning and operations team of JTB Hawai‘I, Inc. It was attended by Ms. Haruna Ishii, Ms. Yuki Ishiguro, Mr. Glenn Kosuge, Mr. Brent (Eiji) Moriguchi and Mr. Yuji Usami.

As organizers of the annual Honolulu Festival, they are no strangers to the Hawai‘i Convention Center but wanted to learn more about the energy-saving, recycling and “green building” efforts we practice.  This provided an opportunity for us to show them around the back end of the Center as representatives from Housekeeping, Engineering, Landscaping and Food & Beverage departments share with them our best practices.

First stop was a short talk with Mari Tait, our Operations Production Manager and Fred Harper, our Building Systems Technical Analyst. We learned that the Center is monitored by a sophisticated computerized building maintenance system that ensures that air conditioning and lighting is turned off if there is no activity in certain areas. They stressed that energy-saving is as much a priority as providing our guests with excellent customer service during each event.

HCC's Mike Roth (Kitchen Manager) shows the JTB Hawaii group HCC's food scrap refrigeration unit where food wastes are held and waiting for pick-up.

We were then joined by Kitchen Manager Mike Roth who showed us around the Loading Dock. Having worked at the Center for over 10 years, Mike’s passion in ensuring a clean, efficient and green Center can be seen and felt in some of the programs he shared with us. We learned that:

  • A food-composting program is in effect in the Center.
  • All leftover food scraps are sent to a company who uses the food for animal feed and are stored in 95-gal totes and kept refrigerated to minimize odor prior to pick-up.
  • All plastic, aluminum and glass as well as cardboard boxes are recycled and Mike showed us where each of these were sorted until pick-up.

Ivy Vito of our Housekeeping team then led us through the service corridors and into our Kitchen. Mike also met us there and was excited to share with us that water used to pre-wash the dishes are filtered and reused again for the same use.

Next stop was the Rooftop Terrace on the 4th level where Marc Isobe our Landscaping Supervisor welcomed us to the Mahealani (Heavenly) Gardens, a 2.5 acre landscaped open area.

HCC's Marc Isobe (Landscaping Supervisor) points to one of the native Hawaiian plants found in the Garden. He hopes to eventually convert most of the Garden with native Hawaiian plants and trees.

Like a proud homeowner showing us his home, Marc walked us around and shared interesting stories of the native Hawaiian plants found in the Garden. He also added that the Center aims to convert the current tropical landscape to have more native Hawaiian plants. “We want each plant in the Garden to actually tell a story and reflect the culture of Hawai’i” Marc shares.

Other future plans include the addition of an herb garden so that the Kitchen can use fresh herbs on their menu.

Our tour ended with a quick visit to Security office where we got a rare glimpse at the security system and cameras in place to monitor the Center.

As said our goodbyes,  Mr. Usami of JTB Hawai’i waved to the security cameras and everyone smiled knowingly, assured that someone is watching and making sure the Center and its guests are protected.

Mike of Food & Beverage shared that “We take care of this place like we would our home.” Revealing a unique sense of ownership that each employee has towards the Hawai‘i Convention Center. I hope that our guests walked away from this experience even more confident that they are in good hands each time they hold an event at the Center.  I know I will.

Mahalo to Ms. Mari Tait, Mr. Fred Harper, Mr. Mike Roth, Ms. Ivy Vito and Mr. Marc Isobe for taking the time to give us this tour and for the opportunity to let us look at the Center through each of their eyes!

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One thought on “Green Steps Forward: A Tour of HCC’s “Green Initiatives”

  1. There is nothing like a new employee to give us a behind the scenes tour of a place Natalie. I really enjoyed hearing the stories from each of the areas, especially the Mahealani Gardens and all of the food composting! I have been a fan for years but still am learning new and wonderful things about the Hawaii Convention Center.

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