A chemical company and its engineering partner have been named winners of two Government-backed environmental awards for making big energy savings and cutting pollution.

Instead of releasing gases that are a byproduct of its resin plant in Christchurch, Momentive Specialty Chemicals has begun burning them in a specialised boiler built by Energy Plant Solutions of Palmerston North.

Momentive project manager David Early said burning the gas, a mixture of hydrogen, nitrogen and organic chemicals, had cut the plant's use of light fuel oil by 90 per cent.

"The project has also reduced our PM10 particulate emissions in Christchurch by 93 per cent, our sulphur discharge by 99 per cent and carbon dioxide by 89.5 per cent," Early said.


He said sustainability was important to US-owned Momentive, a maker of resins for the wood panel industry. The same type of boiler might also be installed at the company's Mt Maunganui plant.

Momentive and Energy Plant Solutions this week won the large business category of the EECA Awards, handed out by the Government's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, with the judges saying the project turned a liability into an asset.

The two companies shared a second award, for innovation, with Ngati Hine Health Trust.

The Northland trust was recognised for its Te Mirumiru Early Childhood Education Centre at Kawakawa, featuring a green roof formed by an earth mound. The design is 67 per cent more energy-efficient than a standard building.

Architect Phil Smith said the brief for the $2.5 million centre was a mix of cultural and sustainability goals. The earth bank played a passive heating role as well as being a "womb-like" element.

"It's very symbolic like a lot of Maori architecture, but in a modern way."

The building had underfloor heating using piped water that was warmed by solar roof panels.

It was a technically outstanding building and a landmark for Kawakawa, the judges said.

• The Herald is an editorial partner of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority Awards.