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Pandemic Shifts Kiwi Behaviours Towards A Cleaner, Greener Future, Survey Finds

A new global survey by GHD, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, has highlighted how changing attitudes and behaviours could shape the world of energy as we emerge from the global pandemic.

The survey revealed that, with time in lockdown to reflect, 55% of Kiwi respondents said they have become more environmentally aware since the pandemic started, while 68% believe their daily habits will change in the long term due to COVID-19.

Kiwis are also becoming more open to clean energy sources like solar and green hydrogen. 59% would consider ground source heat pumps, 49% would consider hydrogen batteries and 45% would consider a hydrogen boiler if they were more readily available and accessible.

These options are becoming more attractive as well. While 16% of Kiwi respondents said they often struggle to meet the financial cost of energy in their homes, almost three quarters of those (71%) said they would consider solar panels as an option if they were more readily available, affordable and accessible.

This group are also more likely to consider ground source pumps (68%), hydrogen batteries (62%) and hydrogen boilers (62%).

Nick Eldred, Business Group Leader at GHD, said when it comes to thinking about the future of energy, sustainability, affordability and accessibility are the three key elements to consider.

“In 2020 we saw record reductions in carbon footprints across the world as lockdowns forced people to stay home, reducing their use of personal vehicles and international travel,” said Eldred.

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“There’s no reason we can’t keep these gains going. Our key outtakes from these survey results show accessibility to affordable, new, sustainable technology and infrastructure seem to be the main barrier to entry for Kiwis.

“Looking at interest in electric cars for example, we know the appetite is there – but Kiwis are worried about access to sufficient charging infrastructure and the cost.”

At present, only 3% of Kiwis own a fully electric vehicle, with an additional 5% owning a hybrid.

The survey found that over a quarter of New Zealanders (27%) would consider an electric vehicle if they could install a charging station at their home, while 32% would consider one if they could be confident accessing reliable charging infrastructure in their local area.

‘While current uptake of electric vehicles is low across New Zealand, if we get the infrastructure right, the desire to switch to EVs is looking optimistic,” said Eldred

“However, this is where affordability will come into play. The Government has the opportunity to show leadership over the transformation of transport, one of our largest carbon emitters, and the affordability of EVs. To enable this transformation, the required infrastructure and potential subsidies need to be considered.”

Furthermore, more than half of New Zealanders (53%) would like to see increased investment in cleaner, greener public transportation being prioritised over further investment into infrastructure like roads and highways.

The pandemic also changed the way we work, with over a quarter of Kiwis (27%) saying they anticipate more working from home in their future.

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the average number of days Kiwis worked from home was 1.2. Moving forward, this figure is expected to increase to 3 days.

“The cultural shift in how Kiwis are working is a great start to further reductions in carbon emission from vehicles. As working from home becomes more commonplace, the next step will be making our homes more eco-friendly through alternative energy supplies,” said Eldred.

“It’s encouraging to see the shift in people’s perceptions of clean, green energy sources and transportation. The more we commit to investing in greener technologies and lifestyles, the more momentum we will build and the more successful we will be.

“As the countdown continues to be net zero by 2050, these changing attitudes coupled with government projects like the NZ Battery Project put Aotearoa on the right track to become a nation built on a low carbon economy.”

About the research
The survey was conducted among 8,041 consumers within the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. At an overall level, results are accurate to ± 1.1% at 95% confidence limits assuming a result of 50%.

The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in February 2021 using an email invitation and an online survey.

About GHD
GHD is a leading professional services company operating in the global markets of water, energy and resources, environment, property and buildings, and transportation.

Committed to a vision to make water, energy and urbanisation sustainable for generations to come, GHD delivers engineering, architecture, environmental and construction solutions to public and private sector clients.

Established in 1928 and privately owned by its people, GHD’s network of 10,000+ specialists are connected across 200 offices located in five continents and the Pacific region.

www.ghd.com

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