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Aloha United Way

Oahu

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For the past 100 years, Aloha United Way (AUW) has been helping to better the lives of Hawaii residents through its support and partnership with more than 300 nonprofits. With the money saved from clean energy investments at its Honolulu headquarters, AUW passes along the savings to tenants, which are primarily non-profit partners.

Built in 1959, the two office buildings off Vineyard Street is home to both AUW and other nonprofit organizations. Chief Operating Officer Norm Baker recalls back to 2011, when a monthly electricity bill of $35,000 spurred him to invest in clean energy. “It was pretty brutal. And if you look at operating a building like this, there’s not a whole lot of places where you can save money. When I looked at our budget, I said well, electricity is certainly one of them. I knew from my experience with solar at home, solar was by far the first thing we’re going to do, we’re going to leap on that. Solar cut our electricity bill by 48%.”

This sparked AUW to look into what else could be done. Subsequently, AUW tinted its windows with $75,000 worth of state-of-the-art tint donated by 3M, helping the building stay cooler. AUW also had LED lights installed in public areas and motion-sensored LEDs put in the fire escapes. It is now in the middle of installing LED fixtures throughout the building.

AUW also received an electric Smart car donated by Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation, as a partnership with the utility to gift EVs to ten nonprofits. AUW uses the Smart car when employees need to run errands, and it even installed an EV charger in its garage.

While the primary motivation was to save money, AUW sees how its sustainable measures can lead to changes on a personal level. “Once you start saying ‘What can I do,’ it opens doors,” said Maura Dolormente, AUW’s vice president of marketing and communications, who also has solar at her home. “By sharing with our team what the organization was doing, staff were inspired to do their part. When everyone does a little bit, it really makes a significant difference, and that’s how we keep evolving. The changes at work then get carried to their homes and the ripple continues to grow.”

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Mahalo!

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