Spark Central

Commercial property owners in Wellington are being encouraged to reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of their buildings through a range of incentives offered under the Wellington Smart Buildings Challenge.

The program is a collaborative partnership between the Wellington commercial property sector, Wellington City Council, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Microsoft, Switch Automation and the Energy Management Association of New Zealand.

The program was launched in September, with an initial nine properties signed up including DNZ Property Fund’s Meridian Building and 1 Grey St, Argosy’s TSB Bank Tower, 8 Willis St, Te Puni Kokiri House and Ministry of Business Employment and Innovation Head Office, and The Wellington Company’s Todd Building and Spark Central.

EMANZ is managing the pilot program on behalf of EECA and the WCC, with initial funding and support committed until July 2016.

The challenge involves commercial property owners committing to a target of at least a 10 per cent reduction in building energy use and attaining a NABERSNZ rating within 12 months of joining the program, as well as year-on-year performance improvements beyond that point.

The toolkit for owners includes energy efficiency advice, a cloud-hosted energy data management platform, collaboration and resource sharing.

The first 25 buildings to sign up also receive a free subscription to the Switch Automation data platform, including setup and one year access licence worth $1800, which gives the owner visible data on energy performance to provide the basis for better efficiency decision making. They are also eligible for up to $4000 funding for approved energy efficiency initiatives.

Aggregated performance data from the buildings will be made publicly available at a challenge web portal, as part of a broader information and education effort.

Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown said the initiative aimed to eliminate barriers and improve energy use and management for the Wellington commercial property sector.

“The challenge is all about making life easier for owners through a mixture of financial and logistical incentives, an innovative data management tool provided by Microsoft’s technology partner Switch Automation, and collaborative information sharing between building owners,” Ms Wade-Brown said.

”Reducing energy wastage is hugely important in tackling the biggest issue of the 21st century – climate change.”

Greg Visser, EECA business general manager, said there had been wide interest in the challenge before it had even launched, and the fact it got off to a strong start with nine buildings signed up already “shows there is not only strong leadership within the property sector, but also a natural appetite to be more in control of their energy use”.

Owners and building managers have until 30 November 2015 to register for the initial challenge and access the incentives.

To qualify for resources buildings need have a minimum floor area of 2500 square metres, be primarily commercial offices (but can include some retail space) and be located within the Wellington City Council boundaries. Non-commercial office buildings can also join the program, but are not eligible for funding.

The challenge team is also keen to hear from commercial property owners in other NZ cities and regions, with a view to planning future projects outside Wellington.

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