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Bay of Plenty Regional Council's drive to meet carbon neutral goal

Monday 2 May 2022, 11:14AM

By Bay of Plenty Regional Council

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Left to right: Tim Evans (Property Officer), Adam Macfarlane-Hill (Corporate Sustainability Officer), Rebecca Immink (Facilities & Information Team Leader), Carol Flynn (Customer Contact Advisor), Rachael Burgess (Customer Contact Manager), Colin Graham
Left to right: Tim Evans (Property Officer), Adam Macfarlane-Hill (Corporate Sustainability Officer), Rebecca Immink (Facilities & Information Team Leader), Carol Flynn (Customer Contact Advisor), Rachael Burgess (Customer Contact Manager), Colin Graham Credit: Bay of Plenty Regional Council

BAY OF PLENTY

An encouraging start is how Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council is describing the progress it is making towards reducing corporate greenhouse gas emissions during the past two years.

For Toi Moana, total CO2 emissions are under 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide for 2020/21, 4% lower than last year’s total emissions.

Since signing up to the Toitū carbon reduce certification in 2019, the organisation has reduced its corporate emissions by 15% - but knows there’s still a way to go on its reduction journey.

Toi Moana’s Customer Contact Manager Rachael Burgess says the council is working towards being carbon neutral by 2050, so being able to understand its emissions profile, which signing up to the certification enables them to do, is critical.

“Climate change is at the heart of everything we do. It is built into our decision making, planning and policy so it makes sense that we look internally to ensure we’re accountable for our own carbon footprint,” Mrs Burgess says.

“New Zealand is at a turning point, close to releasing an emissions reduction plan that will set ambitious policies to decarbonise all sectors. We want to be leaders for this change.”  

Toi Moana’s main source of corporate emissions come from diesel, followed by electricity use and waste.

“We are slowly electrifying our vehicle fleet as and when they’re due to be replaced, we now have 17 electric vehicles, with six more on the way. This step alone saves about three tonnes of CO2 emissions per vehicle per year,” she says. The Regional Council plans to have all light motor vehicles move to electric in the next three years.  

“Our electric fleet is currently receiving a make-over, transforming the vehicles into roving narratives, telling the story of our region, sub regions and mahi. We want our electric vehicles to inspire change within our community, and making the move to electric transport will be a key step in global emissions reduction,” Mrs Burgess says.

“Reducing our energy consumption is also a big focus as, combined, energy is our second-largest contributor to carbon emissions for the organisation. Our office buildings feature energy reduction technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and LED lighting throughout.

“As a driving force for sustainability and environment protection we want to be at the forefront for change. Leading by example we hope to inspire other organisations and businesses to look at their own carbon footprint,” explains Mrs Burgess.

“We don’t want to rely on off-setting measures, such as the planting of trees, so this is about seeing where we as a council emit most emissions and work to reduce these where we can,” she says.

Toi Moana’s Corporate Sustainability Officer, Adam Macfarlane-Hill is driving internal behaviour change with the Staff Travel Plan.

“After a great result with the Aotearoa Bike Challenge, and receiving feedback from staff, we’ve upgraded the bike storage facilities at our Tauranga office, and are exploring options to install repair and maintenance equipment.

“We are also in the process of restarting our internal e-Bike discount and loan scheme after much success in previous years. This scheme assists staff to purchase an e-Bike via salary deductions, reducing the cost barrier often faced when considering this option.”

"Internal efforts that help inspire long lasting behaviour change for our staff and community will be key to overall regional emission reductions,” explains Mr Macfarlane-Hill. 

For more information on the work Regional Council is doing to understand and plan for climate change click here.