It had been a Monday morning ritual for Ian Reid ever since he started working at ANZCO Foods in Eltham 22 years ago.
Each week the meat processor's national asset manager would read the meters, checking water, electricity and gas usage.
Compared to others in the industry, ANZCO's Eltham processing plant was pretty good, but Reid reckoned it could be better.
With some funding from EECA -- the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority -- matched by ANZCO's own investment, he started with hot water.
ANZCO brought in energy efficiency experts DETA Consulting to help.
ANZCO, which processes sheep and beef at nine North and South Island sites, upgraded its water heating and refrigeration systems to hit a target of 38 gigawatt hours of savings three years ahead of its five- year goal.
"What we did is not rocket science," says Reid. "It's been around for years but, A, we recognise it and, B, we should be doing it anyway.
"$3.9 million later and we're saving $2.6 million year-on-year."
Data is what drives energy savings, says Jamie Burrows, chief executive of another winner, energy management specialists Energy Solution Providers (ESP).
ESP, which works mainly with companies spending more than $100,000 on energy each year, says it's easy to start with the low-cost or no-cost projects.
"In very, very broad simplistic terms it's turning stuff off and fixing stuff that is broken. That's a gross generalisation but that's kind of the nub of it," says Burrows.
In Auckland, Mt Wellington food producers Ceres Organics has been on the sustainability path since the business began in 1982 as an organic produce stand at a school fair.
Building an energy efficient warehouse and office from scratch was a natural progression when Ceres outgrew its previous building six years ago, says general manager David Josephson.
A derelict 1970s building was knocked down by property owner Norak Properties to create a building that encompassed all the benefits of a Green Star building.
When the old building was demolished, more than 95 per cent of the materials were diverted from landfill, with some featuring in the new building.
Josephson says they relied on building designers Williams Architects and other consultants to guide them through what was and wasn't possible. "Having partners who could see what we were aiming for really helped," he says.
Switching out the lighting for LED was one of the big decisions.
It required close to $300,000 in cash up front, but the payback through energy savings was less than three years, says Josephson.
He says some of what was on the initial wish list wasn't viable -- solar power, for example, though some solar is used to heat water and provision has been made to include it at a later date.
Three years on and Josephson says there is nothing they would change with the benefit of hindsight.
Although Ceres has cut 40 per cent -- $40,000 annually -- off its power bills, it is still looking for savings.
A chiller that accounts for nearly half the power bill has been tweaked by refrigeration specialists Ecochill to improve efficiency. "It is hard now when over 40 per cent of our usage is sitting in one chiller.
"What can you do to that?
"But in the rest of the build it's pretty hard not to do much about [cutting energy use]," says Josephson.
Having got the quick wins with one year paybacks sorted, ANZCO's Reid says he is now pushing for projects with a two or three year return horizon in an industry where money is tight.
"Still, three years floats around pretty quick."
What they won:
• Ceres Organics: Small-to-medium energy users' award
A move to a new, green home cut energy use by 40 per cent for food business Ceres Organics.
Its 5500sq m office and warehouse, completed three years ago on a brownfields site in Mt Wellington, incorporates green design technology that has allowed Ceres to cut $40,000 annually off its power bill, despite being nearly three times the size of its previous location.
• ANZCO Foods: Energy management award
Meat processor ANZCO hit its ambitious energy savings target two years ahead of schedule after a multi-million dollar investment in energy efficiency across its nine sites.
The $3.9 million spent on hot water, refrigeration and heat recovery systems has cut overall energy use by 17 per cent and trimmed $2.6 million from fuel bills.
• Energy Solution Providers (ESP): Business service excellence award
Working with more than 50 organisations on monitoring and managing energy use has saved ESP's clients 100,000 megawatt hours -- equivalent to the energy use of more than 9500 houses.