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EECA grants Christchurch flower growers top honour

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: K?piti 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: K?piti 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. 

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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