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!

American Academy of Neurology’s Brain Health Fair a Huge Success

The American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting, April 9-16.

The American Academy of Neurology Foundation’s first-ever Brain Health Fair drew more than 1,400 participants to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki on Saturday, April 9.  The free public event included a film festival, interactive exhibits, family-friendly activities and Q&A sessions with experts – all to promote brain health.

The good news doesn’t stop there:  The American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) 63rd Annual Conference at the Hawai`i Convention Center from April 9-16 drew nearly 10,000 participants, far exceeding the 7,000 initially forecast.  World-class neurologists traveled from 93 countries to take part in groundbreaking scientific sessions at the Center.

That translates into more than $42 million in state revenue, with the Center’s hotel partners benefiting from 72,360 room nights.

Post-conference activities included a special neighbor-island meeting on neuroimaging at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island from April 16-17.

For more information on AAN and its charitable arm, the American Academy of Neurology Foundation, visit the AAN website.

KHON story:

Star Advertiser story

Asian Studies Conference Attendance Exceeds Expectations

The Association for Asian Studies (AAS) and International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) held one of the largest conferences ever in the field of Asia studies from March 31-April 3 at the Center.

The first-ever joint conference, which drew 4,400 participants from 65 countries, exceeded previously expected attendance by 1,400 attendees.

The conference included more than 750 panel demonstrations featuring recent findings in a variety of disciplines, including women’s studies, education, and political science.  It also included a retrospective on AAS, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, as well as film screenings, a 133-booth exhibit featuring recent academic publications, and addresses by renowned historians and writers.

Conference organizers also introduced cultural elements throughout the events this year, including performances by the Kenny Endo taiko drummers, Royal Hawaiian Band, and the University of Hawai`i Department of Theatre and Dance.  In honor of the conference, the Honolulu Academy of Arts displayed highlights from its Asian art collections throughout its permanent galleries.

Check it out on Pacific Business News Blog.

Paul van der Velde, CEO of ICAS, appeared on Hawaii News Now Sunrise to discuss highlights from the meeting.


Mahalo to our Hawai`i Business Ambassadors

The Hawai`i Convention Center honored participants in its Hawai`i Business Ambassadors program at a special reception in February.  Attendees enjoyed pupu and live entertainment while recognizing the hard work of these community and business leaders.

Mel Nakamura pictured with Pris Texeira of Hawai`i Business Ambassadors

Hawai`i Business Ambassador Mel Nakamura of the International Association of Lions Clubs was honored for his support of the program.  Jeanette and Ronald Chun, longtime members of the Honolulu Marathon Association Board, were also recognized.  The Honolulu Marathon registration and exhibit are held at the Center each December.

Jeanette and Ronald Chun pictured with the Center’s Lois Asato, middle.


The Hawai`i Business Ambassadors program capitalizes on the resources of the local community to provide even greater support and resources to clients, as well as expand the market potential and increase business for the Center.  A large percentage of international conferences, and even national association conventions, need an invitation from a Hawai`i contingent to consider Hawai`i as a destination, making the local ambassador an instrumental tool in securing business for the Center and for Hawai`i.

BMT Tandem Meetings Return to Honolulu Feb. 17-21

On Feb. 18, Dr. Stella Davies, chair of the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) (shown), and Dr. John Barrett, president of the American Society for Blood & Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) were interviewed in separate segments at the Hawai`i News Now studios with Howard Dicus of Sunrise.

It’s a great year for major medical conferences at the Hawai`i Convention Center.  This month, the BMT Tandem Meetings are returning to the Hawai`i Convention Center from Feb. 17-21 with 2,400 attendees.  That’s 400 more than initially forecast.

Participants from 44 countries will benefit from a full scientific program that addresses timely issues in hematopoietic cell transplantation.  New this year will be the event’s first-ever Clinical Practice Forum on Feb. 19, which includes sessions designed to transcend various roles and disciplines for allied health professionals.

The meetings are a combined annual effort of the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT).