Kāpiti Coast District Council saves ratepayer dollars and the environment

Casestudytile KapitiCoastDC 001 SL B 201508 Open

Ratepayers often complain of wasteful councils but on the rapidly-growing Kāpiti Coast, the district council has reduced its carbon footprint by 48% in three years (2010-2013) and its energy costs are decreasing by about $350,000 a year.

Overview

Kāpiti Coast District Council is the first in New Zealand to gain CEMARS (Certified Emissions Management And Reduction Scheme, administered by Landcare Research) certification for managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  It aims to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 80% in 2021-22, compared to its 2009-10 baseline year.

“The savings that result from emissions reductions will create a budget for other reduction projects, continuing the cycle of energy and cost savings,” the council’s energy advisor, Jake Roos says.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not just about cost savings of course. It’s vital in our district, as we are a coastal community and could be severely affected by the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise. As leaders in our community, we must show leadership in this area.”

 Mike Bourke, Kāpiti Coast’s EECA account manager who lives in the district and has supported many initiatives over the years, says the council must be one of the most progressive local bodies in the country, as far as sustainability goes.

“They’ve knocked off some big projects – sewage treatment, wastewater – and they also get right down to the detail such as giving residents free advice on how to have warmer, healthier homes and initiating neighbourhood planting projects.

“They’ve also used almost $1.5 million in loans from EECA and we’ve lent them our expertise, though they’ve got plenty of their own. They’ve been incredibly successful because the commitment to sustainability is embedded throughout the organisation, and it’s properly funded and staffed.”

Energy reduction has been achieved through a multitude of projects, big and small, the cumulative effects of which reach deep into the community. Here are some of those projects.

Projects

Sewage sludge drying plant
Conversion from diesel to wood chip fuel to operate the plant in 2009 slashed the council’s fuel costs by more than $300,000 a year. The conversion is likely to save more than $8.5 million over the 15 year life of the replacement boiler plant. Energy savings equate to $405,866p.a. The council received an EECA crown loan of $995,555 for this project.

Civic Building
The council operates from the building in Paraparaumu, which was extensively refurbished in 2012 with an atrium for natural light, external shading on north-facing windows and highly efficient air conditioning and ventilation. It gained a 4.5 (out of 6) star NABERSNZ rating in 2014.

Home lighting upgrade
In 2009, the council donated 49,000 energy efficient lights to 24,000 homes in Kāpiti, which is calculated to have saved the community $4.5 million over 10,000 hours, and 2.5 million kWh. EECA lent $76,500 for this project.

Swimming pool energy efficiency
Swimming pools at Ōtaki and Waikanae have been upgraded with energy efficiency measures including low flow shower heads in the changing rooms and variable speed drives on pool pumps. Ōtaki Pool has also installed solar heating and a condensing gas boiler, and is trialling LED floodlights. These measures have resulted in good energy savings for the facilities. The council received $35,700 in EECA crown loans

The new Coastlands Aquatic Centre (opened in 2014) was built using sustainable principles and plant, including a heat pump recovery system which recycles 3,000 litres of water a day. Its unique translucent roof harvests solar energy, satisfying 12% of the facility’s annual heating demand and reducing energy used for lighting by 70%. The council received $87,830 in EECA crown loans.

Pensioner flat retrofitting
Ceiling and underfloor insulation, draught-stoppers and solar water heating were retrofitted into 118 pensioner flats in 2010, saving residents a combined total of $55,000 a year and improving the health of residents living in them. The project saved 147,991 kWh (gas). The council received $127,400 in EECA crown loans.

Electric compactor truck
The council purchased the country’s first battery-electric heavy road vehicle, the Enviro 9000 compactor truck, from New Zealand company Zero Emissions Vehicles in 2013. It is used to collect waste from public litter bins around the district. In its first 18 months, the vehicle has driven more than 40,000km and its recharging costs are a third of the fuel costs of the diesel truck it replaced.

Community initiatives
Community planting and recycling projects, as well as being energy efficient at home, give residents the opportunity to do their bit. The council also runs an annual ‘Greener Neighbourhood’ initiative which helps households living near each other build community, increase resilience and reduce environmental impact. 

“The average reduction in participants’ environmental footprint has been 16%,” Jake says.

“The initiative is a great opportunity to get people together to share ideas and resources to become more sustainable.”

Professor Brenda Vale, Research Fellow at Victoria University and a competition judge for 2011/12, says, “None of the participants thought the reduction in environmental impact reduced their quality of life. In fact, coming together as a street to tackle the problem was observed to be life enriching and enhancing.”

Company profile

Kāpiti Coast District Council administers an area of 731.25 km², and a population of about 51,000 between Paekākāriki in the south and Ōtaki in the north. The council is based in Paraparaumu and employs around 300 staff.

The Kāpiti Coast District Council has a variety of roles:

  • facilitating solutions to local needs
  • advocacy on behalf of the local community with central government, other local authorities and other agencies
  • development of local resources
  • management of local infrastructure including network infrastructure (e.g. roads, sewage disposal, water, stormwater) and community infrastructure (libraries, parks and recreational facilities)
  • environmental management
  • planning for the future needs of the District.

Awards

2014 EECA New Zealand Community Award
For the council’s range of projects to improve residents’ energy efficiency and awareness (e.g. its free Eco Design Service which provides advice on how to have more energy efficient homes, Energise Otaki, Greenest Neighbourhood initiative and work with schools/student groups).

2014 EECA Public Sector Award
For the council’s carbon and energy management scheme, making it the first council in New Zealand to gain CEMARS certification for managing/reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

2014 Green Ribbon Award
For the council’s efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 48% in three years (2010-13).

2011 Green Ribbon Award
For earlier council successes in sustainability, such as the annual ‘Sustainable Home and Garden Show’ which promotes environmentally-friendly lifestyles. Also ‘Plan Change 75’, which requires new homes to have greywater systems and/or rainwater tanks.