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Waitakere receives top award for action on climate

Media release

29 July 2008

Waitakere receives top award for action on climate change

Making a valuable contribution to reducing the effects of climate change today earned Waitakere City Council a top award from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

Waitakere Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse received the ‘Milestone 4’ award from the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Trevor Mallard, at the Local Government New Zealand annual conference in Rotorua.

Waitakere is one of only two councils to achieve a Milestone 4 award, which assesses how well a local authority has done in carrying out its local Climate Change Action Plan from the Milestone 3 stage of the government-funded Communities for Climate Protection – New Zealand (CCP-NZ) programme.

Part of the wider ICLEI International Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, the CCP-NZ programme involves councils working through a series of milestones to assess their local climate change impact, set goals to reduce their impact and implement local greenhouse gas emission reduction projects.

For a Milestone 4 award, a local authority must achieve a five percent saving in either its corporate or community greenhouse gas emissions.

Waitakere reached the five percent saving threshold by its corporate activities alone, without needing to take into account its community initiatives, such as the EcoWise West retrofit programme for 1,000 households and the appointment of an Eco Design Advisor to help homeowners, designers and builders make new homes and renovations more sustainable and energy efficient.

As part of the CCP–NZ programme, the Council has cut greenhouse gas emissions by running its facilities and street-lighting more efficiently, purchasing smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles for its transport fleet and encouraging staff to use more sustainable travel modes to get to and from work.

The Council’s energy efficiency projects are producing ongoing savings of almost eight million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, worth about $1.3 million. Many of the City’s key facilities, such as its civic centre, libraries and leisure centres, demonstrate the use of solar water heating, solar electricity and wind power.

Independently rated as one of the top sustainable buildings in New Zealand, the multi award-winning Waitakere Central Civic Centre is the City’s showcase for practical environmental design. It integrates architecture, engineering, art and urban design to demonstrate the eco city’s sustainability principles and includes passive solar principles, extensive use of daylighting and innovative systems for air, water and waste handling.

“Since becoming New Zealand’s first eco city in 1993, Waitakere has developed an international reputation for leadership in addressing environmental issues through council-community partnerships,” says Waitakere Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse.

“As an eco city, we constantly strive to put in place new ways of doing things to create a more sustainable future and try to encourage and inspire the people of Waitakere to do the same. It is that approach that makes Waitakere the innovative, forward-thinking place it is. I was proud to accept this award, not only on behalf of Waitakere City Council but also on behalf of our residents who are making a conscious effort to preserve and protect our environment.”

ICLEI Oceania Chief Executive, Wayne Wescott, says Waitakere City Council’s many climate change actions have had substantial flow-on benefits for the community.

“Implementing actions, such as reducing waste, using energy efficient products and encouraging alternative forms of transport, not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but they significantly improve the quality of life for the community,” he says.

“Waitakere has truly embraced the principle of ‘Think global, act local’ and is demonstrating that they can make a tangible difference in the area of climate change.”

The Council is already working towards achieving Milestone 5, which involves taking an inventory of the greenhouse gas emissions from its own activities and the community as a whole and comparing them to the emission levels measured in 2002 for Milestone 1.

Examples of Waitakere’s key energy efficiency achievements:

• Installing an EnergyPro monitoring system to keep track of all energy consumption (electricity, gas and water)
• Installing 145 solar path lights in parks, 96 photovoltaic panels at the Massey Leisure Centre and Library, a 1 kW photovoltaic system and solar water heating in Waitakere’s new Civil Defence headquarters and solar water heating panels at the Waitakere Central Civic Centre, Waitakere Central Library and West Wave Aquatic Centre
• Upgrading lighting and air conditioning at the Council’s former civic centre in Waipareira Avenue
• Upgrading traffic and pedestrian signals to LED lighting
• Installing a wind turbine onto Waitakere Central (in partnership with Vector)
• Conducting energy efficiency reviews for Titirangi War Memorial Library and Community House, Massey Leisure Centre and Library and Ranui Community House and Library
• Undertaking energy efficiency projects at West Wave and the Waikumete Crematorium
• Saving 7,000 litres of petrol and diesel in the Council’s vehicle fleet during 2006/07 (with more savings expected as fleet vehicles are replaced with smaller, more fuel efficient models)

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