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Powerfully green effort reaps awards

Powerfully green effort reaps awards

Auckland Zoo is this week celebrating receipt of its third environmental award in less than a month, after taking out the public sector category of the 2004 EnergyWise Awards.

The zoo topped 17 other public sector organisations to win the WEL Networks Public Sector category of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's (ECCA) EnergyWise Awards on Wednesday evening.

The Awards showcase organisations and individuals that have demonstrated innovation and brilliant thinking in energy efficiency or renewable energy projects, and celebrate progress towards a sustainable energy future for New Zealand.

Auckland Zoo has achieved a 34 per cent saving on electricity consumption in the past two years, representing carbon dioxide emission reductions of 350 tonnes a year.

The judges commented that the zoo made significant savings and coped well in a very unusual working environment. “Their energy management systems have delivered results very quickly and established credibility with higher management.”

"We have been able to make major savings by installing a Power Factor Correction Unit, and have carried out a lot of initiatives at our Sealion Shores exhibit," says Auckland Zoo’s Asset Manager, Andrew James, who accepted the award. "Through installing sensors and thermostats, we now even have our rhinos turning off their enclosure's heating as they move in and out at night, which has reduced this exhibit's heating costs by 50 per cent."

“Electricity is in the news at the moment because New Zealand is rapidly running out of generation capacity and costs are increasing. I encourage anybody who manages a power budget to have an audit carried out, and to implement the recommendations. The savings are there to be made, and if organisations could save 10 – 20 per cent, then additional generation facilities may not be required, " says Mr James.

"Overall, the zoo's investment in energy savings has been paid back many times over. The money saved has been put into water conservation (where a 38 per cent saving has been made) and waste recycling – and the zoo is now recycling 60 per cent of its waste.”

Councillor Geoff Abbott, chairperson of the Zoo Enterprise Board, who nominated the zoo, was delighted at the result.

“This award recognises the zoo’s outstanding results achieved in the field of energy savings, and is a real tribute to the work of Asset Manager Andrew James, Director Glen Holland, and all the team at Auckland Zoo,” said Mr Abbott.

In the last month, the zoo has received two other prestigious environmental awards. Vet Dr Richard Jakob-Hoff accepted the Australasian Regional Association of Zoos & Aquaria (ARAZPA) 2004 Research Award for establishing baseline health data for native fauna, and Native Fauna team leader Andrew Nelson, the ARAZPA 2004 In Situ Conservation Award – for this team's huge contribution to North Island brown kiwi recovery.

“Zoos by their very nature, have conservation at heart," says Zoo Director Glen Holland. "We must ensure that we take a holistic approach to conservation – looking after the environment, and preserving fauna, because the two are inter-dependent. We made a conscious decision two years ago to minimise our impact on the environment, and it's great to be receiving recognition for this work, a lot of which has been driven by Mr James.”

At last year’s conference of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria, members issued a core strategy that “All zoos should work to common sustainable principles, and in practice should be neutral to the environment through sustainable operations.”

Auckland is now looking forward to the construction of its new front entry and education facilities, due to be completed by December. Sustainable building practices have been specified and the new buildings will rely on natural heating and ventilation, thus making further energy savings possible.

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