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Improving energy choices in Bay of Plenty region

Thursday 18 August 2005
Improving energy choices in Bay of Plenty region

Environment Bay of Plenty is focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Council today became the 24th local government authority in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), EnergyWise Councils Partnership.

“As a regional council we will help facilitate community energy efficiency programmes, champion sustainable urban form, and address energy efficiency and renewable energy effectively in Council processes. We will also help create an information base for regional energy planning to complement those we have for resource management,” said Council Chairman John Cronin.

Chief Executive of EECA Heather Staley welcomed Environment Bay of Plenty as the latest member of the partnership, and congratulated the council on its decision.

“Environment Bay of Plenty’s commitment to energy efficiency sets an example within their region, and is the beginning of a coordinated approach to energy management.

“The EECA EnergyWise Councils Partnership exists so that we can help councils make better energy choices, improve energy efficiency, and increase the use of renewable sources of energy in New Zealand. We would like to see these as core goals and activities of local government so we can help create a sustainable future for our country,” said Ms Staley.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s head office in Whakatane already has innovative features to make it more efficient in its energy use. These include light shelves to maximise the penetration into the building of natural light and a sophisticated sensory electronic lighting system that reacts to both light levels and movement and switches lights on and off in response to them.

The three-storey building has a built-in natural air conditioning system, based around an atrium in which stands a 20m high communications mast. A huge sail-like canopy suspended from the mast acts as a giant sunshade and umbrella but, more importantly, creates a low-pressure zone in the atrium to suck fresh air in and the hot, stale air through and out of the building. A night system that uses cheaper electricity in the early hours of the morning also operates when necessary to cool the building ready for the next day.

Looking ahead, the planned development of an eco-friendly building in Tauranga shows Environment Bay of Plenty’s commitment to “walk the talk” in this area. It has passive design features that minimise energy use including double-glazing and a reverse-cycle heat pump using ground water temperatures to both heat and cool the building.

“Energy efficiency is at the forefront of our minds and, without compromising an acceptable level of comfort and security, we are continually looking at ways to make our buildings more energy efficient,” said Council Chief Executive, Jeff Jones. He said it was the Council’s duty to lead the way in sustainable energy use. But it was not only about the environment, he said. “There are serious economic drivers to saving energy as well.”

ENDS

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