Greg Hall finds out how smart businesses are putting in place plans to reduce their power consumption

New Zealand's business sector spends $8.4 billion a year on energy. The energy it uses accounts for over half of New Zealand's total.

These are staggering numbers. Fortunately, a number of forward-thinking companies are seeing the business sense of cutting energy consumption.

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Several Top 200 Award finalists are among them. They're being helped by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, a government body that aims to create a more efficient and lower carbon business sector. They've been working hard to reach this goal, so much so that they can now boast agreements with what amounts to 40 per cent of New Zealand's business energy use.

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"EECA congratulates all of the finalists in the Deloitte Top 200," beams Gary Walker, the EECA's business account director, North. "We are particularly proud of those we have worked with in their stride toward energy efficiency.

"Smart businesses have energy management programmes in place and are using better energy management to get ahead. Businesses who don't start thinking of energy efficiency risk getting left behind."

It's hard to argue with Walker's assertions when some of the Top 200 Awards' most prolific nominees are counted among EECA's partners.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand features prominently in this year's awards. It aims to be the world's most environmentally sustainable airline by 2020. It demonstrated its commitment to this goal by signing a two-year partnership with the EECA which would save 10 gigawatt-hours a year. The partnership target has increased Air New Zealand's cost savings and has seen the introduction of an innovative energy-efficient heating and ventilation system in the Auckland Airport departure lounge.

Pramesh Maharaj, the EECA Manager responsible for the Air NZ account, sung the airline's praises: "Air New Zealand's no-holds-barred approach to energy and fuel efficiency has made it an international ambassador for lower carbon ways of doing business, which brings positive spin-offs for all New Zealanders."

Z Energy

This topic is obviously one close to Z Energy, having invested $2.7 million into its energy efficiency initiative across all 171 NZ retail sites.

Much of the effort is directed at the meat of Z's energy consumption: lighting. A quarter of the company's total retail electricity use comes from forecourt power and lighting.

"Z Energy's determination to shine a light on its sustainability goal demonstrates how energy efficiency can help fuel your business and improve your customer experience," explains Chris Thurston, business account manager at EECA.

Z Energy partnered with Phillips NZ in 2014 to install 2200 high-end energy LED fittings with intelligent lighting controls across the business. The partnership has paid dividends, delivering an average 68 per cent in lighting energy savings and a 16 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.

IAG

When you're as large as IAG, energy consumption is a big deal. In New Zealand alone, the international insurance company tenants 100 sites all over the country.

Working with EECA, IAG pledged to operate its energy-consuming assets in accordance with best business practice by mid-2016. The company partnered with its landlords to get the most energy efficient outcome from its NZ sites. It will benchmark its current energy use and commit to monitor its progress as it rolls out the changes across New Zealand.

The NZI Centre in Auckland (see picture p22) is the flagship for IAG's commitment to energy efficiency. The Centre was developed by Newcrest with Jasmax Architects. The building scored a 5.5 out of 6 under the NABERSNZ energy rating scheme, the first building in Auckland to rate a "market leading" score.

"Companies that are interested in energy efficiency tend to be big energy users," explains Dane Fredriksson, EECA business account manager. "IAG recognises the intrinsic benefits of energy efficiency -- staff wellbeing and being a good corporate citizen. Over time, role models like IAG can have a significant impact on the quality and character of commercial buildings."