Chch 'must be energy smart'

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 09:46 20/08/2012

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An energy efficiency group is calling on Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton to ensure the rebuilt Christchurch becomes an energy smart city.

Energy Management Association executive officer Ewan Gebbie said while the central city blueprint presented an exciting vision of the city, the document did not contain a strong commitment to making Christchurch energy smart.

There were 12 anchor projects and the association would like to see an overlay of energy projects or precincts to accompany them.

Gebbie said Sutton, a former chairman of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and a former chief executive of electricity firm Orion, should lead this effort.

The association is promoting District Energy Schemes, which are large energy systems that provide power and heating to city blocks.

They are used in Europe and the United States but not in New Zealand.

They can be publicly or privately owned and require a heavy investment in capital and collaboration from several parties.

"There is a role for Cera to bring people together to have these conversations in the commercial environment," Gebbie said.

"It will require some leadership and it will require some people to create the atmosphere to bring people together to allow it to happen. Roger Sutton being the [former] CEO of Orion, you would think he is the logical person to show that leadership."

Energy schemes were used more in countries where people were prepared to work across traditional commercial boundaries and collaborate.

There were none in New Zealand but they offered dramatic economies of scale, Gebbie said.

The logical places for them included hospitals, airports and convention centres, where the schemes supplied energy to a whole area.

The key question was who paid for them. They were a bit like community water and irrigation projects where farmers shared ownership and benefits.

Gebbie said the proposed convention centre with hotels expected to be built around it was a great candidate for an energy scheme.

He hoped following volumes on the blueprint with detailed information on building rules and standards would contain more references and requirements on energy systems in the new central business district.

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