Canterbury's K&L Nurseries is the Supreme Winner in this year's EECA Awards, for a bioenergy project.
The family business installed a boiler sourced from Europe that runs on green waste it produces. The boiler meant K&L stopped using coal and ran only on carbon neutral biomass.
The company was also the winner of the Small to Medium Business Award and highly commended in the innovation category, and beat nine other categories winners to the Supreme Prize.
The flower nursery produced more than two million cut flower stems each year, supplying 70 percent of the South Island's gerberas.
Owner Paul Loader says the Austrian-made boiler was more expensive than other options but offered more flexibility because it can run on wood and other fuel with up to 60 percent moisture content, halving the firm's energy costs.
Ash from the boiler can also be used as fertiliser, unlike toxic coal ash. K&L Nurseries also installed an in-ground tank to store hot water and further reduce energy use. And it plans to buy a chipper to use neighbours' green waste as fuel.
The overall project has cut K&L Nurseries’ energy costs by $100,000 a year and is avoiding around 3500 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.
EECA chief executive Mike Underhill says although the nursery business is relatively small, it has the potential to spur positive change in other sectors dependent on heat. “From the outset, K&L Nurseries focused on sharing its success and helping others see the benefits of bioenergy. So while it has delivered sizeable benefits for them, it is also inspiring others, with similar boilers soon to be commissioned.
“K&L’s achievement demonstrates you don’t need to be a large corporate to make significant savings from improved energy use. Energy efficiency and renewable energy delivers equally important benefits for smaller businesses.”
The EECA Awards, held every two years, celebrate organisations and individuals that demonstrate excellence in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The full list of winners is:
Supreme winner: K&L Nurseries
Large business: Momentive Specialty Chemicals & Energy Plant Solutions
Small to medium business: K&L Nurseries
Public sector: Kāpiti Coast District Council / Unitec
Renewable energy: Government of Tokelau
Energy management: DNZ Property Fund
Innovation: Momentive Specialty Chemicals & Energy Plant Solutions / Ngati Hine Health Trust
Community: Kāpiti Coast District Council Christchurch
Energy Champion: Community Energy Action / Tait Communications
Energy Leadership: Martin Fryer, Auckland International Airport
Click here for more about the winning projects.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).