Northland DHB reduces emissions with heat pumps

kaitaia 5

Northland District Health Board was so pleased with an investment to save energy at Kawakawa hospital it has been replicated at the DHB’s Dargaville hospital, and Kaitaia hospital is following suit.


The original Kawakawa project, totally funded by the DHB, installed modern heat-pumps to replace a centralised boiler that provided hot water and heating. For the Dargaville and Kaitaia projects, Northland DHB was able to access the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority’s (EECA) Crown loans.

Like most DHBs, Northland wants to put most available money into clinical services. The Dargaville and Kaitaia projects would not have got off the ground without the Crown loans which makes interest-free loans available to approved public sector agencies to encourage their uptake of energy improvements.

“Northland DHB has made a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 15% in 2025. Aside from the clear financial benefits, replacing the boilers is part of the strategy to reduce our carbon footprint,” the DHB’s general manager, finance, funding and commercial services Meng Cheong said. “The EECA Crown loans go a long way towards reducing the use of stationary diesel on its sites and in turn significantly reduces our emissions.”

EECA Business General Manager Greg Visser said public sector organisations can access the loans to invest in energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy technology, with savings used to repay the loans.

EECA research shows that large energy-using public sector organisations, just like most energy intensive business, can save up to 20% of the energy they use through smarter energy use. That can have a big impact on energy bills. Other benefits, such as improved patient comfort and care through better lighting, heating and cooling, are typical for such projects.

Loans of over $700,000 have been approved on the Dargaville and Kaitaia projects which are targeted to produce annual energy and maintenance savings of nearly $300,000.

Replacing Dargaville hospital’s old diesel boiler with electric heat pumps that provide individual sources of hot water and heating to separate buildings will allow the DHB to adjust to the considerable seasonal variations, manage buildings based on occupancy and take account of the fact that only one ward is open day and night.

Steam reticulation pipes to the boiler, which continuously lose heat, and are often a big source of savings, were also able to be removed.

Each new system can operate individually, giving immediate energy savings.

Mr Visser said that as heat pump technology improved there would be greater opportunities for all building owners to replace fossil fuel heating systems with more efficient heat from renewable electricity.

Northland DHB has a track record of saving energy and money with EECA, which also supported it to put in efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems together with efficient lighting at its Whangarei hospital.

By the numbers

  • Dargaville set to save $111,000 on energy costs and $41,600 on maintenance.
  • Kaitaia predicted to save $89,000 on annual energy costs and $53,900 on maintenance.
  • Potential diesel saving at both hospitals is 282,000 litres. 
  • Reduction in carbon emissions at Dargaville and Kaitaia projected to total 794 tonnes.

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