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Questions about our sustainability initiatives or having issues with our dashboards? Email us.

Sustainability Vision

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is committed to charting a course for our globally sustainable and resilient future by stewarding indigenous knowledge, unlocking scientific insight, modeling mālama ʻāina, and uniting communities.

Bishop Museum’s commitment to conserving some of the rarest treasures and species on the planet extends beyond conservation, collections, and science. We strive to make sustainability a core component of our mission.  We are committed to change by taking action and instituting sustainable practices throughout our organization. 

As the primary source of Pacific-based knowledge that inspires solutions for a sustainable future, Bishop Museum is committed to protecting the environment and reducing its footprint by implementing sustainable actions. We are also developing and delivering sustainability curriculums, programs, and exhibits.  

“He aliʻi ka ʻāina; he kauā ke kanaka—The land is chief; man is its servant.”  This can be interpreted as, “land has no need for man, but man needs the land and works it for a livelihood” and as such, it is our duty, our obligation, our kuleana, to care for it. 

ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings


a large group of solar panels on top of a building.

Renewable Energy

Bishop Museum hosts 720 solar panels across campus, housed in four locations: the roofs of Kōnia building, Pauahi building, the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center (SAC), and a ground mount behind SAC.

These panels produce 280,000 kWh of energy annually—enough to power a refrigerator for 432 years (54 kWh/month), or fully charge 7,000 electric vehicles (40kWh per charge)! The panels provide up to 33% of the energy used in the Science Adventure Center and up to 10% of our total campus usage.

a close up of a drop of water from a faucet.

Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation

Bishop Museum is committed to becoming increasingly energy efficient, reducing our reliance on fossil fuel-based energy wherever we can. Between 2019 and 2022, through upgrading equipment and changing operations we reduced our grid electricity use by 16%, saving over 470,000 kWh of energy!

In 2020 Bishop Museum became part of the Hawaiʻi Energy EmPOWER cohort to improve our energy efficiency provisions on our campus. Through workshops and rebates offered by Hawaiʻi Energy in 2021 as well as several grants, we began implementation of the following projects to improve our energy efficiency and reduce our energy consumption:

  • Installation of smart plugs to turn off electrical appliances when not in use
  • Replacement of existing refrigerators and freezers with new ENERGY STAR efficient appliances
  • Replacement of existing internal and external light fixtures with energy efficient LED bulbs


To reduce the volume of water we use per year, we only irrigate our lawn and garden areas when necessary, and time watering to begin in the early morning to reduce evaporation. We have also set up a dashboard to monitor our water usage to identify peak times of use and identify potential leaks or issues in our systems.

a group of people standing around a water station.

Single-use, Plastic-free

Bishop Museum is a single-use, plastic-free campus as of December 2019. We switched out all our food service and vending machine beverages from plastic bottles to aluminum cans,  and we added water bottle refilling stations throughout the campus.

For food items, we eliminated individual single-use plastic bagged snacks in our gift shop and café, removed all single-use plastic bagged snacks in our Human Resource’s Pantry, and switched to eco-friendly packaged products.

The effort to remove single-use plastics is immense, as plastics are inevitably everywhere in our lives, but committing to eliminating them is just one small way to keep them out of our landfills, oceans, beaches, neighborhoods, and trails.

a close up of a yellow and green object.

Plastic Collection- Parley AIR Station

Since April 2021, Bishop Museum has hosted Parley for the Ocean’s AIR Station on our campus. The station is a collaborative community hub for ocean learning, raising awareness of the plight our oceans face from plastic pollution. This station is freely accessible to the public provides hands-on learning sessions, activities and workshops led by Parley.

Bishop Museum staff collect Type 2 and Type 5 plastics from their homes and museum operations monthly and process them in Parley’s “precious plastic” machine. Parley turns this plastic into plastic bricks and boards, as well as carabiners to raise awareness on plastic waste and the need to reduce its production and use.

a close up of a bunch of purple flowers.

Native Species

The vegetation at Kaiwiʻula, the area where the Bishop Museum is located, has changed greatly over the years. Though originally a diverse Hawaiian dry-forest filled with endemic species, by the time the Museum was built in the 1890s, non-native grasses and kiawe (mesquite) trees had taken over Kaiwiʻula. Over time, these were mostly replaced by introduced ornamental plants.

We are once again in a period of transition; over the next few years we will be replacing many of the ornamental plants on campus with endemic and indigenous Hawaiian species, as well as with unique varieties of cultivated plants developed by Hawaiian agricultural practitioners.

To learn more about the flora of Hawaiʻi, visit:

Plants of Hawaiʻi

Bishop Museum Botany

a street light with a building in the background.

Weather and Soil Monitoring Station

In 2022, Bishop Museum installed a weather and soil monitoring station in our Native Hawaiian Garden. This station allows us to monitor environmental conditions on our campus to aid collections care and better manage our culturally-important garden spaces. This station is dedicated to the memory of James “Jim” Boone (1962–2021), Bishop Museum Entomologist.

The weather and soil data from our station is available online for all to see. Click on the link below, make a free profile with Weather Link, and search for “Bishop Museum.”

Weather Station Data –

a hawaiian electric sign in a parking lot.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Bishop Museum is proud to offer electric vehicle charging to our staff, guests, and community. We currently have four Level 2 EV chargers in our upper parking lot near our security office, available to staff and Museum guests. As part of a collaborative project with Hawaiian Electric Company, we also have two DC fast chargers in our lower parking lot, available to the general public, staff, and guests.

Be sure to check out the artwork on our DC fast chargers! It was designed by local artists, Roxy and Matt Ortiz (Wooden Wave), and features Hawaiian values of sustainability.

How To Use:

Level 2 Chargers

DC Fast Chargers

a person holding up a paper with a green leaf on it.

Programs & Activities

Bishop Museum offers virtual and on-site programming that emphasizes sustainable practices in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere in the world.

  • Science & Sustainability Festival
    Annual event held in March
    Highlights the importance of actively caring for our unique and diverse natural environments in Hawaiʻi, as well as what we can do in the urban and built landscapes to protect and preserve the Hawaiʻi we call home.
  • Pau Hana Pū Kākou Seminar Series
    Daily Programming
    A monthly program at our After Hours events featuring researchers, collection managers, and community affiliates, promoting engagement in conversations on a wide range of topics related to culture, science, sustainability, and history in Hawai‘i and the Pacific.


In offering these programs and activities, we hope to inspire visitors to seek further understanding of the importance of sustainable practices in their daily lives, learn ways in which they can implement action, and to share their newly gained knowledge with others.

a group of people standing on top of a sandy beach.

Community Engagement

We continue to seek guidance from some of the leading sustainability partners within our community.  By doing so we are able to collaboratively work together to educate kamaʻāina, our staff, and visitors on the importance of the efforts of the many sustainability organizations we work with including: 

a color wheel with the words aloha and a circle with the words al.

State and Global Sustainability

Bishop Museum strives to align itself with and contribute to state and global sustainability initiatives to show how we are just a small part of a much larger sustainability network and every action counts. Our goals and metrics are aligned with both Hawaii Local2030 Hub’s Aloha+ Challenge and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Aloha+ Challenge is a statewide public-private commitment to achieve Hawai‘i’s social, economic, and environmental goals by 2030, coordinated by the Hawaii Local2030 Hub. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals set by the United Nations, which are a call to action for all nations to work toward achieving a sustainable and equitable society by 2030.

a group of people standing around a table filled with water bottles.

Sustainable Events

To coincide with our sustainable initiatives, we have emphasized the importance of integrating environmental and social responsibility issues into event planning for both our museum programming and educating external partners renting our facilities.

Sustainable events efforts include steps such as providing locally sourced foods and using caterers who also source locally, using compostable serveware , thinking of eco-friendly, natural decorations, encouraging guests to BYOB (bring your own bottle), and optimizing waste management.

We also created a process to collect and return lei containers/bags from our events. We have found tremendous support from the lei shops for gifting these resources back to them for a continued life versus throwing them away.  

Having a more sustainable approach can make events more rewarding and worthwhile for both the planner and attendee.  View our Sustainable Events document for more information. 

a business card with a picture of a person on it.

Digital Membership Cards

In efforts to conserve paper and be more waste-conscious. Bishop Museum Membership will be launching a digital membership card Fall 2021!

Members will have the opportunity to opt-in immediately, or anytime following launch. After launch, members will be automatically enrolled in digital cards at their next renewal. Digital membership cards will not only help us save paper, and postal transportation, but will be accessible instantaneously and will make updating your membership profile easy. 

  •  Goals
    • 25% of members download and opt in to digital cards by December 31, 2021, 
    • 50% of members have opted in to digital cards by march 2022 
    • 75% of members have opted in to digital cards by June 2022
    • 100% of members have opted in to digital cards by September 2022


How else can Bishop Museum ʻOhana Members help us conserve on resources? 

  • Sign up for auto-renew  
    Opt-in to auto-renew so that your annual renewal is automated and you can skip the mailed reminders. We will email you when your annual payment is coming up. Cancel at any time. 
  • Renew early and renew online 
    When you renew early and renew online, we can cut back on renewal reminder correspondence, and keep our mailed correspondence with members limited to items like our printed Ka ‘Elele journal and event invitations!  
  • Check in with digital tickets 
    When members reserve their admission or event tickets, they have the option to pull up their tickets on their smart phone and scan for entrance as an alternative to printing tickets. 
a cardboard box filled with books sitting on top of a table.

Shipping Green: Minimum Waste, Maximum Aloha

In keeping with the Museum’s sustainability goals, Bishop Museum Press uses donated recycled cardboard boxes and packaging materials such as bubble wrap, air puffs, and newspaper to ship books whenever possible, giving them a second life.

The Press is grateful for the public’s support in donating used materials, but we are currently at capacity and are not taking any further donations. Mahalo for all your support!

a bunch of different types of insects on a table.

Natural Sciences

Bishop Museum has engaged in ethnological and biological studies in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands for over 100 years. Our collections, biological specimens, published and unpublished documents, biodiversity databases, and staff expertise make it an unparalleled source of knowledge on the Pacific Basin.

Preparing and handling scientific and other specimens sometimes means coming in contact with hazardous chemicals like ethanol and formaldehyde, so using gloves is an important part of our safety guidelines. The Natural Sciences and Cultural Collections staff at Bishop Museum began using biodegradable gloves in 2019. Fortunately, Museum staff identified products that can keep us safe and are biodegradable within 12–24 months, so the gloves we use don’t spend decades in our landfills. Since 2019 we have used almost 10,000 biodegradable gloves across our many Museum departments!

To learn more about our Collections, visit:

a group of people that are on a video call.

Employee Sustainability Hui

Change happens best when it first happens within. Working with dedicated representatives from our own team of employees, we created a Sustainability Hui which meets bi-monthly to see how we can implement changes within our own offices to continue adopting sustainable practices across our campus.

Many collaborative initiatives have come from this, including our Bishop Museum Press using repurposed packing materials for shipping out their products; the lei container and bag return; and our employee snack pantry switching to more eco-conscious products. 

The most valuable achievement of our Hui has been getting people to think about how to make better environmentally sound choices at work and at home. 

a man wearing a mask holding a bunch of scissors.

Ongoing Efforts

We are constantly looking for ways in which to engage our employees, visitors, and community on how to be better facilitators of the ʻāina.  Check back often to see the new initiatives and efforts we are engaging in, as well as progress on our current initiatives, and feel free to reach out directly with any engagement opportunities.

For more information, please contact:

Bishop Museum Curator of Sustainability, Chris Hobbs

Bishop Museum is committed to protecting the environment and reducing our footprint by implementing sustainable actions for our future.   As a single-use plastic-free campus, we ask our visitors to remember to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle.

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