Can closing office doors and putting computers on “sleep” mode save the state millions of dollars? Sen. Mike Gabbard says yes.

The senator has launched a contest among Capitol District government buildings to see which can conserve the most energy in one year.

The contest, which begins Friday, will measure which building saves the most — on a percentage basis — in energy costs.

The 10 buildings include the state Capitol.

“There are 150 offices in the Capitol, 815 work stations, 300 employees during the interim and 625 during session,” said Gabbard, chairman of Senate Energy and Environment. “Our monthly electric bill is $128,000.”

iConserve Campaign

Gabbard announced the contest at a rotunda rally to promote the Hawaii iConserve Energy Initiative, coordinated by the Department of Accounting and General Services and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The initiative aims to reduce total energy consumption in the 10 buildings by thirty percent. The projected annual savings could be more than $3.5 million for the state, according to a press release.

The steps include closing office doors and turning off lights, shutting down or “hibernating” computers, turning off space heaters and unplugging personal appliances when not in use.

The other nine buildings (and the offices they house) in the energy-savings intiative are as follows:

• Kalanimoku Building (DAGS and DLNR)
• No. 1 Capitol District (Hawaii State Art Museum)
• Queen Liliuokalani Building (DOE and DHS)
• Kinau Hale (DOH)
• Leiopapa A. Kamehameha Building (State Office Tower)
• Kekuanaoa Building (Territorial Office Building)
• Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building (DLIR and Department of Taxation)
• Kekauluohi Building (Hawaii State Archives)
• Keoni Ana Building (Capitol Center)

The governor, lieutenant governor, legislators and department heads wore green T-shirts in solidarity (except for state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who wore purple).

Neil Abercrombie, speaking at the rally, noted that the Capitol is also competing in a national “Battle of the Buildings” to conserve energy.

“It’s about each and everyone one of us thinking differently every day about the way we do things,” said state Rep. Derek Kawakami, vice chairman of House Energy and Environmental Protection. “We are going to take this seriously, and if you haven’t heard by now, politicians can be a very competitive animal.”

Gabbard joked that the winners would get a round-trip bus ride to Kapolei, his district, adding, “If you have an energy orgy, be sure to have it tonight or tomorrow.”

The contest starts July 1.

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