Supreme EECA award winner Air New Zealand is delivering for NZ Inc, judges say, clocking up energy savings worth more than $540 million since starting its eco drive in 2005.
However, it wasn’t the sheer size of the numbers, but the airline's tenacity in pushing for a lower carbon industry and the positive downstream effect that secured its place at the top – a win also complemented with the top prize in the transport category.
Vowing to become the world’s most sustainable airline by 2020, Air NZ has cut fuel use by 15 percent through measures such as culling on-board weight to aerodynamic ‘winglets’ on its Boeing 767s. Even pilots are taxiing on one engine instead of two, to reduce fuel burn.
It’s the first carrier in the world to gain regulatory permission to use routes that deviate as much as 240 minutes from a suitable airport to find shorter and more fuel-efficient flight tracks and flew the first flight of this type in December last year between LA and Auckland.
Ground operations are also a focus: vehicles at Auckland, Christchurch and Blenheim airports are running on 20percent biodiesel, a move which has enabled other local companies to use the biofuel.
Bioenergy featured strongly in this year’s awards. The amount of bioenergy used across all entries was equivalent to the energy used every year by more than 60,000 homes, or the size of Dunedin and Invercargill combined.
EECA chief executive Mike Underhill said Air New Zealand’s achievement brought positive spin-offs for all New Zealanders.
“Air New Zealand is a highly visible ambassador for our whole economy. Its success in shrinking its carbon footprint in such an energy-hungry industry is a boon not just for tourism but our whole export sector. There’s an inexorable global shift to lower carbon ways of doing business. Air New Zealand has chosen to lead the industry rather than being just another small national carrier. It’s giving the whole country a competitive advantage, and it’s also promoting energy improvement in local businesses, such as through its supplier network.”
He said although Air New Zealand’s energy costs were astronomical compared with most Kiwi companies, the close attention to detail it used to help cut energy waste was an approach any business could gain from.
Across all entrants, the value of energy saved or generated over the life of the projects was $600 million, and the total CO2 emissions reduced or avoided 1.7 million tonnes.
Supreme Winner: Air New Zealand
Transport: Air New Zealand
Large Business: ASB
Small to Medium Business: Ecosystems and Whanganui PAK‘nSAVE
Energy Management: New Zealand Post Group
Innovation: Aurecon NZ and Dominion Salt
Renewable Energy: Golden Bay Cement
Public Sector: New Zealand Post Group / New Plymouth District Council
Community: Greater Wellington Regional Council
Outstanding Contribution: Jeanette Fitzsimons