To minimise fuel consumption for our vehicles, we commissioned an in-depth vehicle fleet audit. The audit looked into what vehicles are used for, where they drive, and options for switching to more fuel efficient vehicles.
As a result of this audit, we removed vehicles from the fleet and approved a Sustainable Fleet Vehicle Policy for Council. This policy requires the selection of low emission and electric vehicles which has resulted in Council in lowering its per vehicle emissions.
Council now has a number of hybrid cars in its fleet and acquired its first fully electric car in 2015. Council has since installed two Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, one for Council cars and one public cars. More charging stations will be installed in the coming years.
Council Staff Travel Plan
The staff Travel Plan aims to reduce car use and encourage staff to use public transport and to bike to work. There are staff subsidies for purchasing bicycles, and using public transport, and free bus tickets for staff to get to meetings in Wellington. Council also supplies push bikes and an electric bike for site visits.
We encourage ridesharing by providing free car parking for car-poolers outside the office buildings. All of these policies are complemented by an Emergency Ride Home scheme; ensuring staff can get home in an emergency if they don't have their car at work.
Fuel economy goals
Council has minimum standards and stretch targets for fuel efficiency of its vehicle fleet. We encourage our staff to use sustainable transport for Council related business and we aim to reduce harmful emissions by encouraging carpooling.
As a result of these actions, we've adopted a Sustainable Fleet Vehicle Policy. It sets out minimum standards for fuel efficiency for newly purchased and leased vehicles as well as guidelines to improve the efficiency of use for fleet vehicles.
Council's Green Team is an internal group made up of Council staff from different departments. The group meets regularly to discuss and facilitate environmental sustainability activity in our operations and encourage it in the wider community.
Any of our staff can join, as long as they care about the environment and are interested in how Council can lead the way in environmental sustainability.
The main focus of the Green Team is to review internal processes and operations to find areas that can be changed to achieve environmentally friendly and sustainable outcomes. We want to embody what it means to be good guardians of the land and natural resources, and support green initiatives in the wider community. Projects and activities undertaken by the Green Team align with our Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
Over the last few years our Green Team have initiated and facilitated projects to encourage Council officers and community residents to be more aware of how their actions impact the local environment. Some of the projects the Green Team have been involved in include:
- Swap Days. People could drop off their clothes, CDs, DVDs and books at a central location and take anything they found interesting. Items that weren't taken were disposed of in an appropriate environmentally friendly way.
- Fruit Tree Guardians. The team distributed 1,800 fruit trees in six Lower Hutt communities. The fruit trees encourage local residents to be more active in the garden and grow their own food. We've recorded where the trees were planted and their growth will be monitored for years to come.
- Arbor Day Walks. The team hosted a garden tour around Riddiford Garden to educate Council officers about the flora in their workplace backyard. The tours raised staff awareness of the life, health and history of the trees as well as the care and maintenance they require.
- Eco Design Advisor giveaways. The team paid for washers, eco light bulbs and water saving showerheads for the Eco Design Advisor to take with them on home site visits. The Eco Design Advisor can now give away free light bulbs to families, and demonstrate how the right showerhead can save water and money.
- Green Procurement Guidelines. The team created Council’s Green Procurement Guidelines. The guidelines set out the principles for considering the environment when making purchasing decisions. They contain a checklist of environmental factors to consider, making green procurement quick and easy.
- Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. The team has been a major driving force in implementing and maintaining the internal Council recycling system. Green Team officers from different areas of Council have ensured paper, bottle, can and plastic recycling bins replaced the traditional trash cans. Our latest initiative has been introducing soft plastic recycling at some of our premises.
- Community Garden. The team allocated funding to support the Wainuiomata community garden and will be providing advice and support to ensure the sustainability of the garden.
- Computer switch-off. The team implemented an initiative across Council to ensure computers are turned off overnight rather than being left on 'stand-by'. This lead to significant energy savings.
- Opahu stream. The team is undertaking monitoring of the health of Opahu stream.
- Council veggie patch. The team have established and maintained a raised Council vegetable garden outside the library building. Produce is given away to the Foodbank.
Council Energy reduction measures
The Dowse Art Museum
Following an energy audit, as part of the ISO 14001 accreditation process, the Dowse Art Museum committed to cut their energy use by 20% over three years. The process was partially funded by Council, partially by the Dowse and partially by EECA. The suggested changes led to 42% energy savings in the first year, exceeding the target by far and leading to $20,000 in savings.
Further energy-reducing measures at the Dowse Art Museum include:
There is a 3k array of 12 solar panels on the north facing section of the gallery roof. This means, in full sunlight, The Dowse would produce 3 kilowatts of power each hour. In the front lobby at The Dowse, a direct feed from the power inverter shows the daily power harvest.
Rock Store is an innovative heating and cooling system designed by engineers Sinclair Knight Merz. The first of its kind in New Zealand, Rock Store moderates the temperature of the building. Underneath the cafe at the Dowse lies 44 square meters of wire ‘mesh’ baskets of Wairarapa river stones that hold in the heat or cold. Cooler night air is drawn in and ‘stored’ in the stones. When the sun comes up the chilled air is used by The Dowse’s air conditioning units, keeping energy costs down. The naturally tempered air is ducted to an air-conditioning plant on the roof and circulated through the galleries.
One of the largest expenses associated with pool operations is their energy use. Leisure Active has been at the forefront of energy reduction initiatives with capital investment in energy measures at Huia Pool resulting in annual savings of $40k. A similar energy efficiency project has just been completed at Stokes Valley Pool and is expected to produce similar savings.
Urban Plus / Housing NZ
In its Environmental Sustainability Strategy, Council has committed to supporting Urban Plus and Housing NZ ensure their Lower Hutt properties are fully insulated and have energy efficient heating by 2020.