Non-profit organizations benefit from new energy efficiency program

The Richards Street YWCA downtown, one of the beneficiaries of a new energy efficiency project.

The Blue Planet Foundation has started a new program called WEfficiency, a take-off on the word efficiency.

And the Richards Street YWCA is one of the beneficiaries of the program, resulting in what it hopes will be savings in both energy and dollars.

The downtown branch of the Y has a great history. Originally built in the 1920s, its original charm has been maintained all these years. But modernization is at hand. The good news is, YWCA members may not even notice that WEfficiency is in effect.

“We are very happy with this new project,” said YWCA CEO Noriko Namiki. “What happens is, we are asking the community that for every dollar they loan to WEfficiency, we could save up to six dollars in energy efficiency. And with that money, we can make energy upgrades, especially with lighting improvements.”

And, remember, this is the digital age. Community members can go online and donate to the energy efficiency project (click here).

David Aquino of the Blue Planet Foundation said “it’s an online crowdfunding tool that allows groups to gather community support to fund energy upgrades in their building. These are upgrades like efficient lighting, or modern air conditioning, or Energy Star appliances, or solar-powered hot water.”

After you contribute money to WEfficiency, when it shows a return in energy savings, you get your money back. Once that payoff happens, the non-profit saves thousands of dollars a year and puts the money back into programs for the community.

“We just launched the program last week,” Aquino said, “and we’re starting with the YWCA, and also Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio, but WEfficiency is open to any non-profit.”

But the big question for those who love the design of the YWCA building: Will the chandeliers be altered?

“Oh, no, we’re not touching any of the original design,” said Namiki. “They are beautiful, beautiful pieces.”

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