Author: Nate Gyotoku, President & Executive Director

New Gallery air handler

Hindsight is 20/20, especially when thinking about the design of a 30-year-old building. The JCCH's buildings are still in good condition after 30 years; however, how we use the property to fulfill our mission has changed. Fortunately, the generosity of Marie Otoshi allowed the JCCH to invest in the future of our building.

One of my core strategies in ensuring the JCCH's long-term sustainability is to improve facility operations to lower costs. Our property is our biggest asset but also our most significant liability. From January 2019 through December 2021, our electricity bill averaged about $19,500 per month. With the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the resulting rise in fuel prices, our 2022 bill averaged closer to $34,300 per month. Yes, that's a 75% increase!

Fortunately, we had already begun work on the first phase of energy efficiency projects at the JCCH. Today, our first two completed projects save the center over $ 7,000-8,000 monthly in electricity by reducing our usage significantly compared to 2019. 

In October 2022, we completed the first project: LED replacements for most of the property. Using LED lamps instead of the older fluorescent and halogen lights saves the JCCH a lot of energy. Not only that, but they last longer than older bulbs. We upgraded the lighting in the parking garage along with the LED replacements. The parking garage is better lit now, providing better security for our patrons. Plus, they have sensors that shut the light off when there is sufficient light (daytime) or dim when there are no moving cars.

Secondly, we just completed installing new A/C on the first floor of the Community Services Building, which houses the Generations Ballroom, Gallery, Gift Shop, and our Collections storage. Our large chiller on the 5th floor cooled the entire building. It was required to be on 24/7 because of our requirements to cool the small Collections storage room, where we store many precious and priceless artifacts. Separating the A/C by floor allows us to turn off the large chiller when the Generations Ballroom is vacant but keep the Collections storage frosty. Splitting the system lowers our energy costs by efficiently cooling only the spaces we need.

Energy-efficient split systems for the 1st floor
Climate & humidity controls in the Collection Storage

However, all of this comes at a cost, a large one. These projects cost the JCCH upwards of $700,000 to complete. Our electricity savings mean that this project will pay off in roughly eight years, a great return on our investment. But we had to spend a lot of money upfront to achieve this long-term goal.

A significant gift from the late Marie Otoshi in 2019 allowed us to collateralize the project costs. Our savings provide a positive return on investment for the long term.

Ensuring the JCCH is efficient and sustainable for the next 30 years is costly, but we must do it. With funders like Marie Otoshi, we'll be able to complete additional efficiency projects that ensure the JCCH will be able to serve future generations!