Intouch: Going green saves $1.2 million

North Shore City Council’s innovative sustainability initiatives led to savings of more than $1.2 million last year, and that figure is likely to increase by half as much again this year.
That’s because sustainability is “primarily about creating efficiencies – and that makes good business sense,” according to North Shore City’s sustainability manager Michael Field.
“But it has the added bonus of helping to protect our environment.”
The savings are the result of range of measures from contract negotiations and procurement procedures to fleet, waste and energy management. The biggest chunk of savings to overall operational costs – approximately $200,000, or the equivalent of enough kilowatt hours to power 200 homes for year – has been as result of new city-wide energy and carbon management system.
The first step towards planning for the future and making savings was to work with Genesis Energy to understand what the city’s energy profile was, taking into account all consumption from street and public toilet lighting, to council facilities and natural gas use.
The audit led to refunds as result of incorrect charging, and new, fully automated online system has given visibility of every site, and bills are now automatically rejected if the rate per kilowatt doesn’t match up.
“We’ve got city-wide energy bill of $5 million year including gas, so anything we can do to reduce that saves us money and helps us reduce our carbon footprint,” says Field.
Another city-wide sustainability initiative is at North Shore beaches. The council is saving $80,000 year by having the 800 tonnes of seaweed picked up from beaches each year composted rather than sent to landfill.
The Council is making major savings in-house as well. The Wastewise Workplace programme has seen an 80 percent reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill from the council’s two sites in Takapuna.
Now, 12,000 kilograms of organic waste year goes into an industrial-sized worm digester in Devonport, which results in nutrient-rich, natural compost and fertiliser.
A workplace energy awareness campaign has also seen the percentage of electrical equipment, such as computer monitors turned off, go from 80 percent not switched off year ago, to 80 percent consistently switched off now.
“Staff realise that sustainability is not just an add-on, it’s simply how we do business. They’ve been very supportive and keen to get involved in all these initiatives because they realise that inefficiency leads to waste, which costs the organisation money,” says Field
“We’ve also put the policies in place to support these initiatives in the first instance, and it is part of people’s contracts, so they are on board right from the start.”

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