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Energy efficiency and Safety bring award double

Media Release
Embargoed to 6.00pm Friday 20 June 2008

Energy efficiency and Safety bring award double for Christchurch firm

Christchurch firm Connetics has won a national engineering award for its spectacular, energy-efficient lighting upgrade of ChristChurch Cathedral.

Connetics received the Engineering Excellence Award (projects <$3m) of the Electrical Engineering Association (EEA) at a function in Christchurch on Friday 20 June.

The company also received the EEA Safety Award for its proactive approach to protecting linemen from accidental livening of overhead power lines.

The Cathedral lighting upgrade project, completed in 2007, won industry recognition for its use of new technology, sensitivity to the building’s historic and architectural heritage, and the outstanding results Connetics achieved in reducing electricity consumption.

Managing Director Bob Taylor says the project was a complex and challenging one for Connetics, which carried out the entire design and installation. “The Cathedral is an iconic city landmark,” he says. “It was important that we respected its 125-year history and ensured the lighting remained in keeping with its heritage.”

The upgrade was designed around existing fittings, with no new fixtures permitted. Heritage lanterns were retrofitted with high performance lamps, while new floodlights were fitted to existing poles.

The new technologies enabled Connetics to significantly improve the lighting performance while retaining the Cathedral’s heritage character. They also helped achieve a substantial improvement in energy consumption – although the total number of lights doubled, overall energy use was cut by 58 percent.

Mr Taylor says the award reflects Connetics’ reputation as a leader in utility lighting, including security, recreational and amenity lighting as well as street lighting. “We focus strongly on using technology to solve the unique challenges of each project. We’re also sensitive to the environment – and this award shows that it is possible to protect environmental and heritage characteristics without compromising lighting standards.”

The EEA excellence award is the second award Connetics has received for the Cathedral project – last year it won an energy efficiency award from the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand (IESANZ).

The Safety Award won by Connetics is in recognition of an initiative to reduce the risk of linemen being injured by accidental livening of overhead power lines.

Connetics has been part of an industry group looking at the issue, which is one of the main hazards faced by linemen working on overhead lines.

Mr Taylor says the company recently decided to implement a programme for its own linemen, which incorporated an awareness and training package as well as a set of simple tools and procedures to reduce the risk. Connetics employs some 30 linemen among its staff of 230.

“We have a determined focus on safety for our people, which is based on the commitment that we send our people home safe each day,” he says.

“We have been proactive about finding solutions to this hazard, and we have designed and implemented practical tools that our linemen can use.”

The new safety procedures introduced by Connetics, known as equi-potential bonding, involve linemen using special straps to connect the overhead line to a position on the pole below the worker.

“As soon as it became apparent that there was an effective solution, we got on the front foot and developed a package that would help keep our people safe.

“A big part of that was a training package to help staff identify hazards, and introduce the new procedures and tools. This has included posters and other materials that have helped ensure the messages are communicated effectively.”

Connetics has previously been the recipient of EEA safety awards as well as an ACC ThinkSafe Award, reflecting the company’s ongoing commitment to safety, Mr Taylor says. “This reflects the way safety has been embraced by all our people and the confidence our clients can have in Connetics to produce safe outcomes from the work undertaken for them.”


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