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YHA Cleans Up At Inaugural Sustainability Awards

September 1, 2006

YHA Wellington Cleans Up At Inaugural Sustainability Awards

YHA Wellington has won top honours at the regional Get Sustainable Challenge Awards, announced by the Sustainable Business Network (Central Region) in Wellington last night.

Other award winners were website company Absolutely.co.nz, computer recycler Remarkit Solutions, and design and communications company Alto.

YHA Wellington won the Trailblazer Award after demonstrating that sustainability was core to its operations - not an add on, the judges said. “YHA Wellington’s values clearly incorporate social and environmental considerations, and responsibility for sustainability is spread across all staff not just managers,” they said.

YHA Wellington provides budget accommodation for independent travellers and is part of YHA New Zealand. The hostel’s work towards sustainability included reducing energy use and waste water, recycling and re-use initiatives, sponsoring community projects, and using only environmentally-friendly cleaning products. It was also a responsible employer - providing good workplace conditions and offering training opportunities. “Staff commented that this was the best place they’d ever worked,” the judges said.

The Get Sustainable Challenge provides business with a comprehensive framework for measuring their position on the sustainability journey. This is the first time the Challenge has been held in the lower North Island, and the four award winners will represent the region at the Westpac National Sustainable Business Awards on October 12.

Finalists for the Trailblazer Award - open to companies that treat sustainability as a strategic part of their operations - were organics retailer Commonsense Organics, power company Meridian Energy and Hutt-based Resene.

Other awards recognise the efforts of businesses that are at an earlier stage in the sustainability journey. Absolutely.co.nz won the Emerging Award, open to businesses that are formally planning to improve their sustainability. Initiatives undertaken by the website design and build company included using public transport to get to client meetings and giving staff paid time off to do community work.

Remarkit Solutions won the Explorer Award, for those who’ve just begun to tackle the environmental and social impact of their operations. The company’s core business is reducing information technology waste, by recycling and re-suing using equipment. Remarkit also donates hardware to schools locally and in the Pacific Islands.

The Innovation Award, recognising a sustainable innovation or invention, went to Alto for its “Good Friday” initiative. Each Friday, staff are able to focus on their own personal and professional development.

The Get Sustainable Challenge attracted entrants from Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Horowhenua. Principal sponsor of the Challenge was is Greater Wellington Regional Council, with other sponsors including the Hutt City Council and Wellington City Council.

The Challenge and Awards have shown themselves to be a great way for businesses to measure their progress towards sustainability, the judges said. “This is a great way for businesses to benchmark against others on the road to more sustainable practice.”


Editor’s note

The Sustainable Business Network represents more than 400 businesses, from SMEs, consultants, research and academic staff, through to large businesses and corporations. The Network promotes sustainable business practice through networking, practical advice and support, research and policy. We focus on leading, promoting and facilitating practices and procedures that enhance economic prosperity, environmental quality, social equity and business ethics.

The judges were Kerry Griffiths (URS Sustainability Consultant), Ray Mercer (Wellington City Council), Russell Longuet (EECA Board), Daryn Jemmett (SBN Advisory Board), Liz Mellish (Wellington Tenths Trust, Business Mentor), Chris Turver (Greater Wellington Regional Council).
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