SUPPORT CLIMATE ACTION. SUPPORT AFFORDABILITY. SUPPORT BILL 25 FD1

The City Council has the opportunity to modernize Honolulu’s outdated energy code, which governs the construction of new buildings, and so reduce energy costs for Honolulu residents. The updates in Bill 25 FD1 will make new buildings more energy efficient and give more people access to the savings that come from using solar energy and electric vehicles (EVs). The buildings built today will last for decades to come. Making these practical changes now is far more cost-effective than retrofitting buildings later for solar and electric vehicles – both of which are needed to meet local goals for clean transportation and 100% clean energy.

BUT WHAT ABOUT COSTS AND AFFORDABILITY?

Bill 25 actually improves long-term housing affordability for Honolulu residents and tenants. The slight increase in new construction costs – about 1% of the median condo price, or half a percent of a median single family home price – more than pays for itself through utility bill savings, and in the case of EV-readiness, through avoided gasoline purchases. The cost of new construction today is far lower than the cost of retrofitting buildings later; EV-readiness alone is four to eight times cheaper at the time of construction than it is as a retrofit. It’s critical to energy affordability to make these changes to the energy code as soon as possible to save O’ahu residents’ time and money now. 

BILL 25 GIVES O‘AHU RESIDENTS ACCESS TO:

  • Energy-efficient new homes so residents save up to 65% on utility bills
  • Home water heating that uses O‘ahu’s abundant sunshine instead of fossil fuels
  • Improved air quality both indoors and outdoors
  • More EV charging capacity at homes and businesses
  • More capacity for solar panels on the roofs of new homes
  • More flexibility for builders to use super-efficient tropical building standards

IMPORTANT UPDATES TO BILL 25 AFTER LOCAL COMMUNITY FEEDBACK:

  • Now helps homeowners easily install rooftop solar panels by requiring new homes to be “solar ready” 
  • Now enables faster car charging by increasing residential EV-ready parking requirements from Level 1 to Level 2 chargers
  • Now adds flexibility for how developers make new buildings EV-ready
  • Now significantly reduces EV-readiness requirements for affordable housing

SOME IMPROVEMENTS WE’D LIKE TO SEE

  • Take out the EV Parking Points System- it is complicated, hard to enforce, and will result in less EV-ready stalls.
  • Increase the percentage of ev-ready parking stalls for affordable housing (110% AMI and below) from 10% to 25% as originally intended in the bill.

Addressing both affordability and climate action, Bill 25 FD1 will make O‘ahu more resilient for today’s residents and for generations to come and help put Hawai‘i on the path to 100% clean energy.

Take Action!

Submit written testimony here. 

Meeting Date: 3/18/20
Council/PH Committee: Council/Public Hearing
Agenda Item: Bill 25
Position: Support 

SAMPLE TESTIMONY

Dear Chair Anderson and members of the Council, 

My name is ______ and I reside in _______. I support Bill 25 FD1 as an actionable step toward a clean energy future. Construction on new homes and other buildings will be cleaner, healthier, and more affordable to operate. Hawaiʻi has an affordability and cost of living crisis, the slight increase in new construction costs more than pays for itself through utility bill savings, and in the case of EV-readiness, through avoided gasoline purchases. With that, I humbly suggest taking out the EV parking point system which is complicated and will result in less stalls for people to use. A more balanced approach would be to phase in EV-ready parking requirements so that it is available to everyone. Bill 25 FD1 is needed to turn the tide on the impacts of climate change we are already experiencing, please consider amending to make this a bold step forward.

Mahalo for the opportunity to support Bill 25 FD1.

(Your Name)

March Updates

Cool Drinks for a Hot Planet is taking off!

Each month we are seeing new faces excited about learning more on political advocacy through our CouncilWatch Program. This year we are putting a lot of energy behind organizing community members to get active on local policy making at Honolulu Hale. This month we focused on how to track bills and deliver effective testimony. We also debuted our new CouncilWatch Chair, Tenaiya Brookfield, shared the importance of distinguishing federal, state, and local policymaking on our everyday lives and getting active on issues that matter to you. Feedback at the end of the night was positive as there were many veteran advocates and diverse newcomers in attendance that made connections. Next pau hana is Tuesday, March 31st, 6-8pm. Hope you can make it!

Climate Congress and Youth Organizing

This weekend, the Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition hosted their first ever Climate Congress. It was a day dedicated to climate action and working together on solutions. There was a great turnout of high school and college students from across Oʻahu in attendance to learn about climate action. Our Chapter Director, Marti Townsend participated in a panel discussion on “Tackling the Climate Crisis through Your Organization’s Perspective.” There was a wide variety of workshops topics shared from “Organizing for Climate Justice to Food Industry to Climate Change and Climate Equity”. Oʻahu Group’s Program Manager hosted a workshop on “Climate Crisis Action: Disrupting the system to save our planet and put people before profit”. The energy was buzzing throughout the day as youth became more and more motivated to take action!

Bill 25

On February 27th, the Honolulu City Council’s Zoning, Planning, and Housing Committee passed Bill 25 for its third reading. It is now up to the full Council to make the final vote on whether it gets to the Mayor’s desk for adoption. Oʻahu Group has been supportive of this policy’s intent to make all new construction on homes and buildings more energy efficient, affordable for long term savings, and pivot our dependence away from fossil fuels. However, the latest version of Bill 25 is full of amendments which lower the solar-water heater and electric vehicle readiness standards, as well as exempt affordable housing under 100% AMI so that new legislation doesn’t further impact our “affordable housing crisis.” Each of these changes are in favor of developers and industry, not the residents of Honolulu. Data estimates from the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency clearly show that the upfront costs of Bill 25 were negligible in comparison to the the long term cost-savings for residents and drastically. However, the comments from the Honolulu City Council members reveal that they are operating from the paradigm that “giving the developers what they need” will fix the affordable housing crisis. But that logic may have gotten us into this crisis to begin with. And did we mention climate change? The reason why we must radically change not only our building codes but also challenge old ways of thinking. This means a new way of doing policy that doesn’t depend on policy makers to “do the right thing.” Policy that is created through the demands of community and those impacted most will ensure we make an equitable transition to reach our clean energy goals.

Reenergize Honolulu’s building code: Bill 25

A big part of making our climate future livable is ensuring that homeowners and renters have access to affordable energy while ending our dependence on fossil fuels. Bill 25 is a big opportunity to make that happen. 

UPDATE 1/22:

We need reinforcements at the City Council on Thursday at 10AM for the Zoning and Planning Committee for Bill 25. What started out as a no-brainer energy efficiency bill that also advanced EV-ready parking and solar water heating, took a turn for the worst last night when competing amendments were proposed. Industry advocates and real estate developers are attempting to severely water down this clean energy bill. 

Your presence is crucial on Thursday because the vote count in the committee is extremely close. One champion for the environment, CM Joey Manahan, is traveling and will not present at the hearing. That leaves CM Tommy Waters and CM Brandon Elefante, who have been great environmental champions in the past, to carry this issue. CM Kobayashi introduced the extremely weakened version of the bill preferred by developers, but she may still be persuaded that a strong Bill 25 is an investment in Honolulu’s future. This leaves the chair of the committee, CM Ron Menor. He needs convincing to support the strongest possible energy efficiency, solar water heater, and EV-ready parking requirements. And that is where you come in. 

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Submit testimony in support CM Elefante’s CD2 (it’s agenda item 7, Bill 25) , sample testimony below
  2. Submit a letter to the Star Advertiser (it can be your testimony)
  3. Show up to be counted on Thursday at 10AM on the second floor of Honolulu Hale (530 S. King Street). Wear your favorite climate crisis t-shirt! 

Background, the short version is:

Environmental CD 2 (introduced by Elefante): 

  • A city solar water heater requirement that is fully consistent with state law
  • Requires all new construction be PV-ready 
  • Requires all new construction be built to offer Level 2 EV charging; with reduced specifications for retail and affordable housing structures

Developer CD 2 (introduced by Kobayashi):

  • No independent authority for the solar water heater mandate, so if the state abolishes the requirement then it would disappear at the City level as well
  • No PV-ready requirement
  • EV-ready parking only required to be a trickle charger; nothing required at commercial buildings and affordable housing structures 

The entities advocating against Bill 25 are the same corporations that developed Koa Ridge and Hoʻopili. That’s right, the same developers that fought so hard to build massive housing projects on our best agricultural land — the same developers that promised to make these projects the most sustainable on the island — are now working overtime to undermine whatever sustainability requirements they can. It is outrageous.

From our review of the data, requiring new construction to be built with the future in mind (wired for level 2 EV charging, equipped for PV installation) saves significant costs on future-retrofitting while not significantly increasing the cost of current construction. Similarly, authorizing the City to follow through on the state’s solar water heater mandate saves homeowners a lot of money on their monthly electricity bills, while not significantly increasing the cost of housing or putting the gas company out of business. For the solar water heater mandate, there is a variance process for homeowners that really would prefer a gas water heater in their home. 


Sample testimony:

Aloha Chair Menor and members of Zoning, Planning and Housing Committee, 

Our climate future is not unknown but it is uncertain. We know that our climate is in a crisis and will continue to be unless we take drastic action to reduce our carbon emissions. That is why I am writing to you today in strong support of Bill 25 CD2 introduced by Council member Elefante. 

Honolulu is a leader in many climate policies and its residents have high expectations for the future of Oʻahu. Bill 25 is the next logical step in our island’s progress toward a livable, stable climate future. Some of our expectations for the future of Honolulu are that:

  1. The City has its own authority to advance the solar water heater mandate consistent with state law because the science shows solar water heaters are better for the climate and the finances demonstrate that solar water heaters significantly reduce the monthly cost of living for homeowners and renters
  2. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure is ubiquitous on Oʻahu. A minimum of 25% of all parking stalls at residential and commercial facilities are EV-ready. 
  3. All new construction on Oʻahu is as energy efficient as possible. 

Contrary to what the Gas Company and developers tell people, passing Bill 25 will reduce the cost of living on Oʻahu (not increase it) because:

  • Time and again economists have shown that solar water heating significantly reduces monthly electricity bills. 
  • It is estimated that retrofitting buildings to provide EV charging is 4-8-times more expensive than constructing them with that capability built-in. 
  • Energy efficiency measures are a no-brainer way to reduce monthly electric bills for homeowners and renters

Bill 25 is an important energy efficiency bill that needs to be adopted in its strongest possible form because it sets the stage for the future of Oʻahu’s climate resiliency. 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify and for taking up this important measure at the council.

Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Honolulu to file suit against the fossil fuel industry

The City & County of Honolulu announced their intent to file suit against the fossil fuel industry for deceiving people about the known dangers of climate change and the resulting costs on Oʻahu’s taxpayers. Honolulu joins Maui County and dozens of other counties, municipalities, and states across the US that have filed similar climate liability lawsuits.

Since the 1960s, the fossil fuel industry knew that their products—oil, gas and coal—would cause detrimental impacts to the world’s climate. Instead of acting for the greater good, the industry doubled down on production and spent millions on alternative science and misinformation campaigns, wasting valuable time to transition to clean energy and worsening the climate crisis.

In response to Mayor Caldwell’s announcement, the Sierra Club Oʻahu Group has released this statement:

“Decades of deceit by the fossil fuel industry bolstered their mammoth profits, and now the climate crisis has global citizens fighting against our own extinction,” said Hunter Heaivilin, Chair of the Sierra Club Oʻahu Group. “Our island already feels the brunt of climate-related impacts,  from shrinking beaches to a marathon of record heat days. Sadly, we will all be paying for climate change for decades to come. It is only fair that those corporations that lied about it be made to pay their share, as well.”

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT

The Honolulu City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee will hear the mayor’s resolution to file proactive litigation and to obtain outside counsel to represent the county in related legal matters. After committee approval, the resolution is heard and voted on in full council. Once outside counsel is approved, the litigation is filed. 

  • The Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee will hear the mayor’s resolution on Tuesday, November 12 at 1pm
    • Turn out to the committee meeting show your support and bring your friends
      • The full City Council will hear the resolution immediately after the committee meeting
    • Submit written testimony in support online here
      • Council/PH Committee: Executive Matters and Legal Affairs
      • Agenda item: Reso 19-283
      • Your position on the matter: Support
      • Representing: Self
      • Sample testimony:

        “Aloha Chair Menor and members of the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee,

        I am writing to you today in support of Resolution 19-283, to file proactive litigation against the fossil fuel industry to recover climate crisis-related costs.

        The fossil fuel industry knew their products would lead to the climate crisis and they chose to lie to shareholders, lawmakers, and the people about the dangers their products would cause. Because of their deception and inaction, Oʻahu now faces billions of dollars in adaptation and loss of critical land and infrastructure. Oʻahu’s government and taxpayers should not be left to pay for climate-related damages alone. 

        I support the City hiring expert attorneys that know all the details about this area of law and will only be paid if they win the lawsuit on our collective behalf.  

        Filing this lawsuit is the next reasonable step to take, given all that we know about what this industry has done to our climate. Holding the fossil fuel industry responsible will help offset the costs to Oʻahu’s people. 

        Thank for the opportunity to testify on this important matter. 

        Sincerely,
  • Sign this petition urging Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi Counties and the State Attorney General to also file lawsuits

Why this litigation is important:
Hawaiʻi’s communities already know the impacts of the climate crisis well—worsened brush fires, coastal erosion, unprecedented flooding, and increasingly dangerous hurricane activity. These impacts threaten our livelihoods: fires threaten to destroy residential areas that could drive up the cost of housing, erosion could mean loss of access to coastal communities accessible by only one road, extreme floods drive out families and increase insurance costs for everyone.

Everyone feels the impacts of the climate crisis just as everyone shares this earth. However, the fossil fuel industry does not care about everyone. They care about their profits. They knew in the 60s, with striking accuracy, that their products would cause the climate crisis we are in today—but they chose to act for themselves. They spent millions to fund misinformation campaigns, “alternative science”, and prevent climate policies that would hurt their business. 

How this litigation helps Hawaiʻi’s communities: 
Hawaiʻi’s communities face $19 billion in lost private infrastructure and land, and that is from just three feet of sea level rise. This cost does not take into account the loss of public infrastructure and lands or other climate change impacts. Hawaiʻi’s residents alone should not have to pay for the billions of dollars of adaptation it will take to keep the islands livable. The fossil fuel industry is responsible for the majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change and they should be the ones to pay. The industry created this problem and they should help the frontline communities that are facing the worst of the climate crisis. Just like the lawsuits against the tobacco industry redirected corporate profits to help communities that have long borne the costs of smoking related illnesses, it is time to hold the fossil fuel companies accountable. 

Honolulu’s New Office of Climate Change

Every ten years the Honolulu Charter Commission proposes changes on the City’s Charter, or Honolulu’s constitution. Twenty proposed changes made it to the November 2016 ballot such as Question 6: a City Charter Amendment that would create an “Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency”. The O‘ahu Group was ecstatic when majority of residents voted yes on this Charter Amendment because we are already seeing the impacts of climate change, yet policies to combat these effects have not been a focus at the city level. Passage of this amendment shows community support to prioritize sustainability and resiliency in a transparent matter.

Here are some of the things the O‘ahu Group suggests the city considers when creating this office:

  • Holistic: this office should create and implement a comprehensive climate change plan and resiliency strategy tailored for Honolulu; incorporating all major climate change impacts, potential catastrophic events, and other social, economic, and environmental stressors into this strategy.
  • Action Planned: this office should prioritize sustainability projects consistent with the resiliency strategy to help adapt to sea level rise and plan development accordingly, end our dependence on fossil fuels, protect our natural resources and open space, and increase our food self-sufficiency.
  • Inclusive: this office should effectively convene city departments, policy makers, scientists, and community members. The staff should work on a variety of tasks: from implementing the resiliency strategy through policy and projects, to educating the public about climate change and promoting a vision of a resilient future, and engaging stakeholders to support a plan of action, including future revenues for major infrastructure work.

We believe that the formation of this office will help facilitate discussion about the impacts of climate change, promote environmental stewardship, and initiate sustainability projects on O‘ahu. Seven positions are proposed for this office in the Mayor’s 2018 budget with funding for 5 requested, including: a Chief Resiliency Officer/Executive Director, a Deputy Director, Secretary, Coastal Project Manager, and Energy Coordinator. The Chief Resiliency Officer position will be funded by a two year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, but the other positions will need to be approved by the City Council during budget hearings from April to June. Eventually, we hope the office will be expanded to include a few more key positions, such as a grants manager, a communications coordinator, a food policy coordinator, and a water conservation coordinator. We’ll be lobbying Councilmembers to support this office, so stay tuned on how you can get involved. This is an exciting time for Honolulu, mahalo for your support!

 

O‘ahu Group Annual Meeting

Aloha all!

Mahalo nui for attending our Sierra Club O‘ahu Group brunch meeting last weekend at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens. This was a long-overdue gathering of our members and supporters and it was great to see over 50 familiar and new faces in attendance to enjoy a sustainable vegetarian brunch provided by Juicy Brew and World Centric.

As you heard at the meeting, we are joining the fight for a $15 minimum wage; we will be launching a campaign to switch the city bus fleet to electric buses; we will be fighting the Dillingham Ranch subdivision and proposing new rules to curtail “gentlemen” farms; we’ll be working with the city to shape the work of the new Office of Climate Change; we will be pressing the city to convert all its facilities to net-zero energy buildings, to close the plastic bag loophole, to promote local food farming, to increase re-use of “waste” water; we’ll be working to improve trail access, and so much more. And we’ll be hosting a series of social events. So there will be plenty of opportunities to engage and volunteer.

In the meantime I’d like to follow-up on one issue raised by our Chair, Anthony Aalto: sustaining memberships. As Anthony explained, most of the money from your yearly membership is retained by the national Sierra Club to finance our headquarters operation in San Francisco and the vital work they do in Washington DC. We only get about $1 per member for our work in Hawai‘i.

So we rely on local volunteers to become Sustaining Members. These are people who commit to regularly donating a small amount – typically between $10 and $25 every month. 100% of those donations stays in Hawai‘i on the sort of issues listed above.

To become a sustaining member of the O‘ahu Group, please visit www.sierracluboahu.org/donate and fill out the secure donation form, checking the box for “Make this contribution monthly”. There is also an “Additional Information” box at the bottom where you can further specify how you would like your money to be used (for example in a specific campaign, for outings, events, lobbying, advocacy, etc.). After submitting, you will receive a confirmation email as receipt of your donation.

We are one of the few non-profit organizations who are allowed to lobby at the City Council and State level. Monthly donations enable us to plan ahead and ensure the longevity of our organization, so that we can continue to protect what we all love about these islands.

I’ve been on the Sierra Club team for just two months and I’m only beginning to see how much work we have to do – We would love to be able to count on your ongoing support as we head into 2017.
Mahalo again and Happy Holidays!

Jodi

Randy Ching, Volunteer of the Year 2016

Randy Ching is one of the Sierra Club’s most devoted, generous, and lovable volunteers. He has been a member of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i since the 1980’s and has been an amazing environmental leader for the O‘ahu Group as an active Outings Leader and member of our Executive Committee. Along with committing his time, Randy has been an invaluable financial supporter to the Sierra Club and other non-profit organizations, helping numerous groups fulfill their missions to promote good government and protect Hawai‘i’s environment and people.

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This year, the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i decided to start a new tradition and host a party to celebrate incredible volunteers like Randy. The “Randy Ching Award” will commemorate the volunteer of the year…and of course Randy Ching is the first recipient!

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We celebrated the Randy Ching Award with over 60 friends and fans, where Randy was adorned in lei and received a volunteer of the year plaque gifted by Jen Homcy at Foundwoodworking. State Representative Matt LoPresti organized an legislative commemoration, while fellow outings leader Stan Oka and Hawai‘i Chapter Treasurer Nara Takakawa presented the gift of a wiliwili tree planting and city park bench at Kokohead Botanical Garden.

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Guests were able to share a favorite Randy story, with many speaking about his generous nature, enjoyment of food, quirky snoring habits, and love for taking naps on the office couch.

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Randy, on behalf of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, we love you and thank you for everything. We are grateful to have you a part of our ‘ohana are honored to create the Volunteer of the Year award in your name.

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