Samantha Walmsley-Bartlett has always been passionate about sustainability. An honours degree later, she’s working with fruit and vegetable growers and distributors T&G Global, improving energy efficiency and environmental sustainability across 13 sites.

The company’s Growing Green strategy makes a formal commitment to sustainability. Since starting in March, she’s been turning opportunities into projects and pushing them along.

ECCA Supported Graduate - Megan Wakefield

SUPPLIED/EECA

Another EECA supported graduate, Megan Wakefield at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has been helping to decide on how best to reduce energy

“There was always vision and enthusiasm across the business but it can get stuck in isolated pockets. Just having this role brought a lot of focus and channelled that interest,” she says.

The role was established with support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). It encourages large energy-using businesses to employ and mentor newly-trained engineers or science graduates to focus on energy management.

This overcomes a barrier that stops many businesses investing in energy efficiency, says Amber Williams, EECA account manager. “They often struggle to commit the time and resource needed to analyse how energy is being used and the best ways to make savings,” she says. “These graduates have the skills and determination to get energy management projects moving.”

ECCA Account Manager Amber Williams

SUPPLIED/T&G

EECA account manager Amber Williams says the graduates have the skills and determination to get energy management projects moving.

While making the business more efficient and productive, this also builds New Zealand’s expertise in energy efficiency and sustainability.

Another EECA-supported graduate, Megan Wakefield, started as an energy engineer at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare a year ago. Her remit was to minimise energy wastage and reduce carbon emissions. “My first job was to get systems in place to manage energy consumption on site,” she says. “We can now see where our energy is going, decide what meaningful reductions we can implement and calculate our savings.”

One of the easiest steps has been to retrofit LED lighting in three buildings housing 2300 employees. Two buildings now have 90% LED lighting; corridors in the third building are done and work is starting on the office areas. This and other monitored projects, such as optimising compressed air systems, is saving enough to power more than 200 homes a year.

The savings have also been piling up at T&G since 2016, when it set energy savings targets under an agreement with EECA. “With detailed planning and enthusiasm from staff we achieved our goal six months early,” says Samantha. “The success has made us determined to do more.”

Like Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, converting to LED lighting was a focus. It offered good return on investment but proved to have other benefits too. “The staff who work in the cool stores every day were really positive – switching to LED lighting saved energy but it also made their work environment safer and nicer to work in. Many have taken that experience and changed their own lights at home too,” says Samantha.

Both graduates have found communication and collaboration to be a big part of their roles. “Becoming more energy efficient means changing practices and ways of thinking – that only happens with support from people at all levels across the business,” says Samantha.

For Megan, the groundswell of support has been surprising. “Saving energy is good for the bottom line but it’s also the right thing to do. We’re a healthcare company, so it makes sense for us to think about our impact on the environment.”

 

 

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