Downer NZ wins Innovation Award
Downer NZ Chief Executive Cos Bruyn accepts the Innovation Award
Downer NZ's original approach to fuel saving and driver behaviour change won it the 2010 Innovation Award. It went on to pick up the Large Business and Supreme Awards.
Downer NZ launched its sustainability programme in 2008, as part of a long-term strategy to build its environmental credentials in the market.
The company set itself ambitious targets: to reduce energy use by 5% and transport fuel use by 15%. Two years on, it's well exceeded these. Fuel use has reduced by more than 20% - worth $3 million - while energy use in its asphalt plants has dropped by an average 25%, with some sites as high as 80%.
The Kiwis' approach has now become a model for the global group. Downer managers in Australia are going through the ‘Think Sustainable' training devised in New Zealand; and its approach to energy auditing and monitoring will soon be replicated in the UK and Pacific.
Its fuel efficiency drive combines behaviour change with technologies such as GPS and in-cab cameras.
A particular strength of Downer's entry was the way it mobilises its people. Good ideas are strongly encouraged, with staff able to get up to 25% of the business saving if their idea is actioned. Drivers are motivated to take the lead in changing their on-road behaviours to save fuel.
With more than 5,000 staff, Downer works across the roading, energy, telecommunications, water, facilities management and transport sectors. It operates in 80 locations around New Zealand and runs one of the country's largest transport fleets (4,000 vehicles). Most of its energy use - including electricity, natural gas and liquid fuels - comes from moving its fleet, storing bitumen and manufacturing asphalt.
"These are exemplary results, and show what can be achieved with commitment and focus. Downer didn't just apply industry best practice - it went several steps better and customised it to really work for its people and its situation," said EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill.
"Regardless of its size and complexity, there is a lot Downer has done that could work equally well in other businesses - to benefit the bottom line from day one. The key is to make a commitment, work out how much energy you use and where, and motivate staff to get on board. Particularly with transport - a major cost for many small companies - people could save serious money by following Downer's lead."
The EECA Awards celebrate organisations and individuals who have demonstrated excellence and innovation in energy efficiency or renewable energy. This year, nearly 100 entries were received across the nine categories. Entrants ranged from small businesses to large corporates to outstanding invididuals, spanning public and private sectors and community-based organisations.
Other category winners:
- Christchurch City Council achieved a double win, taking the Public Sector title for its civic building which is a model of energy efficiency, and the Renewable Energy category for its city-wide system which uses various forms of bioenergy. The council was also Highly Commended in the Innovation category for a world-first tri-generation system which uses biogas to produce heat, electricity and refrigeration.
- Westpac won the Energy Management category for the energy component of its company-wide Our Tomorrow sustainability programme, which has cut energy use by 21% and CO2 emissions by 28%.
- Taranaki pig farm the Lepper Trust won the Small - Medium Business award for its innovative use of biogas from effluent ponds to generate electricity.
- Waikato earth-moving and transport firm Ruakuri Contracting won the Transport award for its success in reducing its environmental impact - embracing biodiesel as well as fuel efficiency.
- The Community award was won by the Energy Efficiency Community Network for an energy advice line for householders that gave expert, tailored advice.
- Professor Ralph Sims, who leads the Centre for Energy Research at Massey University, won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.