The Importance of Bill 25

Lucy Fagan, Editorial

9.6 million trees are cut down every day worldwide, according to the Rainforest Action Network. In this graphic illustration, every pixel that makes up a dollar bill represents one tree. Each dollar bill was created by hand with 100,000 pixels and, in total, there are 96 dollar bills to represent a day’s worth of global deforestation. Made using Adobe Illustrator and Canva by Mina Kohara 2020.

As the years pass, our understanding of the growing climate crisis continues to expand. The rising seas, ocean acidification, and an increasing number of natural disasters have all been linked to rising global temperatures caused by an increase in emissions, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While our understanding of our natural world and technology has continued to grow, our policies have not kept up.

This is why Bill 25 is so crucial; it is an ordinance currently under consideration at the Honolulu City Council designed to make our buildings more climate-smart. Bill 25 will enable Oahu to continue moving forward towards a cleaner future. 

Despite new technology and a stronger emphasis on sustainability, building codes on Oahu have not been updated in 14 years. Bill 25 would update building codes and create an infrastructure that is ready to meet previously set energy goals, such as 100% renewable energy by 2045, a goal the state set in 2015. This would guarantee new residents were moving into eco-friendly houses and apartments and hold developers accountable for the impact of local architecture.  

The changes proposed in Bill 25 include equipping new buildings with efficient lighting, insulation, and smarter controls. The bill would also require that a certain percentage of parking spaces be ready for electric vehicle chargers —a simple step to encourage cleaner cars. The new codes would not only help the environment but also save the island nearly one billion dollars in energy costs over the next 20 years, according to Blue Planet Foundation. 

Bill 25 also helps close a loophole in previous legislation and would require houses to be built with solar water heaters. This fueled opposition from Hawaii Gas and individuals concerned about the added initial cost. However, solar water heaters would help decrease the month-to-month cost of living in Hawaii by reducing utility costs and hopefully keep residents in their houses longer. 

These proposed changes will help Oahu improve its clean energy efforts and ultimately reduce the amount of carbon pollution that goes into our air. Sea level rise alone is projected to cost the state 19 billion dollars of economic loss across the islands, according to the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report of 2017. 

Legislative action, like Bill 25, is the strongest way to make a difference and help prepare Oahu for the fight against our changing climate. Residents can learn more about Bill 25 at the City and Council website and submit testimony when hearings come up. As a small isolated island, we must be ready to fight on the front lines of climate change and set an example for the rest of the world.