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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Re Project Organizers

Gordon Lai, Julian Juarez, Sara Kahanamoku-Snelling, Colby Sameshima, Chelsey Choy and Devon Nako.

(from left) Gordon Lai, Julian Juarez, Sara Kahanamoku-Snelling, Colby Sameshima, Chelsey Choy and Devon Nako. Photo courtesy Carlyn Tani, Punahou School

Last summer, six Punahou School seniors joined other students from throughout the country and around the world for an in-depth look at various issues centered around the topic of energy during Punahou’s Student Global Leadership Institute. Following the program, the Punahou participants – Chelsey Choy, Julian Juarez, Sara Kahanamoku-Snelling, Gordon Lai, Devon Nako and Colby Sameshima – took what they learned to create the RE Project: The Extreme Green Makeover. Its goal is to provide the Kaimuki-Waialae branch of the YMCA with new green technologies.

Whether the students will reach that goal – and whether the YMCA will get its makeover – is in the hands of the community. Hawaii Energy has agreed the provide the products, but only if the students can get 10,000 people to like the Hawaii Energy Facebook page by next Thursday (May 31).

In addition to helping the YMCA become more energy-efficient, the students also hope that retrofitting the building will serve as an educational tool for its visitors – especially the many kids who spend time there.

“I think if there was a location that was really impacting the youths in the community, it would be the YMCA,” Nako says, adding that she learned to swim at this YMCA branch as a child and also used to practice judo there. “The Y has such a large number of kids going through it every day, and we felt that it could be a model for sustainability in the community.” The group hopes that the keiki also will bring what they learn about energy efficiency at the YMCA home to their families. As of press time, the page had about 2,015 likes. If the group can reach 10,000, Hawaii Energy will give the YMCA an energy monitoring device that displays real-time energy consumption, two Energy-Star Qualified refrigerators, an energy-efficient freezer, an energy-efficient gas stove, energy-efficient power strips, low-flow toilets, energy-efficient lighting, a solar pool water heater and a pool cover.

“We thought that (the project) would have a larger impact on the community overall if we went outside the school,” Sameshima says. “We wanted to work with a (YMCA) site that would impact more of the youths and residents here … We found that at the Kaimuki-Waialae branch, about 2,000 families go there every month. We want to reduce the (YMCA’s) energy usage, but more importantly, transform the minds of all the people who go there, and the larger community, to reduce their energy usage for their whole lifetime.”

To like Hawaii Energy’s Facebook page, go to facebook.com/hawaiienergy. Per every 1,000 likes, the YMCA will receive a new technology, so every like counts. For more information, go to reprojectmakeover.blogspot.com.

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