Sustainable businesses' time to shine

Last updated 11:30 21/10/2011

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Going Green

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Shed 10 on Queens Wharf in Auckland is an understated building the size of a rugby field (appropriately enough) and sits unassuming while the neighbouring area is crowded out by rugby fans as the Rugby World Cup reaches fever pitch.

Next month, however, Shed 10 will bask in all the glory when it becomes home to the Sustainable City Showcase 2011, hosted by the Sustainable Business Network.

The showcase, billed as "not your average expo", is shaping up to be a formidable event, borne of a huge collaborative effort, and will provide a practical demonstration of what a sustainable city looks and feels like.

Shed 10 will house a series of zones following the journey through a sustainable city; from homes to shops the workplace, and to outdoor recreation space.

The November 9 event kicks off with a big breakfast on the Auckland waterfront, featuring an array of sustainable and ethically minded breakfast foods and a chance to network with like-minded people. A range of demonstrations highlighting sustainability, including composting, healthy living, food and cooking, green transport and more, will happen throughout the day, centred around lunchtime and the afternoon.

The event will close with a Greendrinks networking evening from 5pm to 7pm, with organic beer and wine tasting. People will be able to buy products from a range of exhibitors, from fresh produce to clothing and pretty much everything in between. There is no charge to attend as a visitor, and the fee for showcasing your products or services very reasonable.

Several South Island and Nelson businesses have registered already. If your business is keen to join the showcase, visit sustainable.org.nz/sustcity2011.

The showcase includes the annual sustainable business awards, the highlight of the sustainable business calendar. More than 50 business, organisations and individuals are entered in the awards.

The regional awards have highlighted the extremely high standards this year, reflecting how sustainability in business is becoming increasingly mainstream.

Local businesses Nelmac Whakatu Nursery and Nelson Environment Centre were pipped at the post in their regional contest, both receiving judges' commendations.

These businesses have demonstrated that sustainable business practices are both savvy and incredibly cost effective, not to mention good for the environment. Both are happy to receive visitors, and I encourage you to make a trip.

On my visit to the Whakatu nursery I was excited by one particular initiative – the use of colour coded pots. Simple and cost-cutting, you'll need to visit yourself to understand how this initiative works.

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As for the Nelson Environment Centre, with the installation of 12 photovoltaic panels, energy production and energy usage can be measured and monitored on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The inverter can also tell how many pieces of toast could be produced (or burnt in the case of the centre – a whole other story) by the amount of energy converted over a given time period.

Never underestimate how much can be saved by measuring and monitoring at work and home alike.

The environment centre also has a nifty and simple wee device called an energy watch monitor. You plug it in and monitor how much electricity is being consumed in real time, and measure how much energy and money you can save.

Translate this into pocket money, and your kids will be switching off their lights and computers pretty quickly!

  • Going Green is a fortnightly column by members of the Nelson Environment Centre. Kirsty Quickfall is the southern co-ordinator for the Sustainable Business Network. Her office is based at and sponsored by the Nelson Environment Centre.

- Nelson

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