Opus International Consultants Public Sector Award

The Opus International Consultants Public Sector Award recognises public sector organisations that have completed a successful energy efficiency or renewable energy initiative, as part of a wider energy management strategy.


Winner – Te Puni Kōkiri and Argosy Property

A thoroughly intelligent and innovative energy efficient retrofit brings a new lease of life to an historic building.

Photo of Te Puni Kokiri House.
Te Puni Kōkiri House

Te Puni Kōkiri House in Wellington’s Stout Street Heritage Precinct Area is now one of New Zealand’s highest-performing green buildings – but you wouldn’t know it from the outside.

The property’s 1940s façade gives none of its modern, energy efficient credentials away. The retrofit preserved its heritage whilst improving comfort, sustainability and practicalities as a workplace – meaning it can be used well into the future.

Much of the success was credited to the use of energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology. Te Puni Kōkiri House was the first building in New Zealand to use electro-commutated fan coil units, which improve control of air conditioning. Occupancy sensors prevent unnecessary use of HVAC systems and these two interventions alone are estimated to achieve savings of nearly 96 kilowatt-hours per year.

The aim was to improve energy efficiency by 20%. Energy audits before and after refurbishment showed energy use had reduced from 205 kilowatt-hours of energy per square metre annually to 138 kilowatt-hours – an improvement of more than 30%. A 4 Green Star rating was anticipated for the project, which was revised in 2014 and upgraded to a 5 Green Star rating, with a 4 Star NABERSNZ rating for energy efficiency in a commercial building.

The value of the building, owned by Argosy Property Ltd, has improved by $7.9 million and, since energy savings are passed on to tenants, $80,000 goes back into the public purse each year as all eleven floors are occupied by Te Puni Kōkiri (The Ministry of Māori Affairs).

The project saw 90% of construction waste re-used or recycled and water use has been reduced by 29%. The retrofit proves that age and structure need not impede a building’s sustainability.

Judges said:

A great example of how an existing, historic building can be retrofitted to reduce energy demand, with tenant-driven improvements and big energy savings also being achieved. It’s a showcase project creating traction in a space where it has been needed for the last 20 years.

Highly Commended – Trident High School

Students and teachers get energy smart and develop their own renewables.

Photo of students at Trident High School.
Trident High School

The initial focus of Trident High School in 2013 was to educate staff and students to inspire energy efficient behaviour, whilst leveraging the enthusiasm and talents of the students to find new ways of reducing energy use. By 2015, the students were designing and building their own renewable energy systems and installing them in the school.

A five-year energy management plan was developed in partnership with energy advisors Sustainability Options to help the school achieve its goal of a 40% reduction in energy use. The success so far is largely down to students taking ownership of both the technical and social sides of the plan.

Energy efficiency provides a context for classes in maths, science, IT and metal technology. Students were able to log, analyse and present energy data captured via meters placed around the school. Where energy savings seemed possible, projects were implemented that could achieve them, such as a schedule of computer and printer shut-downs, or running energy efficient lighting trails around the use of various sensors.

Campaigns and competitions kept motivation levels high, and during 2014 and 2015 students learnt about solar arrays and sun capture.  They have now implemented three solar systems at the school, including one PV system and two solar water-heating systems and an additional wind system is being prepared.

The school has also invested in energy efficient lighting, which was installed in classrooms, the gym and auditorium, and sensors were introduced in walkways. Of the 25 action areas outlined in the five-year energy management plan, 18 have been completed or are underway, and Trident High School has already achieved annual energy savings of around 21%.

Judges said:

Trident High School is leading the education community with a huge investment in the future of energy management. An innovative way of engaging young people in renewable energy and energy efficiency, even though they had no obligation to do so with regard to the curriculum.

Commended – Auckland War Memorial Museum

Exhibiting impressive energy savings by cutting their carbon footprint in half.

Photo of staff at Auckland Museum.
Auckland War Memorial Museum

Now in its sixth year of energysaving, this old building has gone from strength to strength in energy efficiency. The heritage status of Auckland War Memorial Museum and the environmental conditions required by its exhibitions haven’t stopped it achieving a 52% reduction in its carbon footprint.

Energy efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and LED lighting technology installed in 2010, along with a control systems upgrade, are responsible for the lion’s share of the energy savings. This led to the Museum being recognised as a finalist in the 2014 EECA Awards. Since then they have complemented their immense energy savings with a renewable energy project. In 2014 the Museum installed 189 solar panels that are generating 66,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy each year. This saved 10 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions during 2015.

As public and commercial events have increased, so too has the demand for energy-intensive digital displays and multimedia platforms. In spite of this, the Museum has maintained a consecutive year-on-year drop in emissions and, since it was last recognised in the EECA Awards, the Museum has achieved a further 8% reduction in energy use.

Judges said:

A nice partnership of energy efficiency and self-sufficient energy generation. This is an environmentally savvy organisation with the determination to control its energy use for the future.

Commended – Christchurch City Council

Solar-powered public toilets flush out energy and cost savings.

Photo of a Christchurch City Council toilet block.
Christchurch City Council

Toilet blocks in parks and greenspaces tend to be in areas well away from roads and infrastructure, and therefore well away from grid access. By designing a facility that uses solar photovoltaic collectors, battery storage, LED lamps and daylight and sensor switches, Christchurch City Council has been able to place these facilities in far flung areas without the need of expensive cabling to reach the nearest grid connection point.

The intent of the project was to demonstrate that not every facility has to have a grid connection and that, with some facilities, alternate and renewable power sources make a great deal more economic and sustainable sense. Photovoltaic installation costs approximately $1,500 per site. This dramatically reduced the cabling and trenching infrastructure costs that would have been required to hook sites up to the grid. Therefore, savings ranged from between $10,000 and $50,000 per site.

Eleven facilities are planned, with more in development as the repair and rebuild process continues in Christchurch. The buildings are handy to park users, easy to maintain and are lit using LED lamps, which provide additional security in the areas they are sited. The benefits of innovation will continue to grow as building project managers realise that incorporating solar power into small facilities solves more issues and costs than it produces. The facilities and solar power installations have a life span of at least 25 years.

Judges said:

This project is common sense-driven and highly replicable. Situations like this should be business as usual for councils. A quick and simple solution.

Commended – Kāpiti Coast District Council

They’ve achieved an average 46% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the last three years.

Photo of driver training.
Kāpiti Coast District Council

Kāpiti Coast District Council is maintaining high standards of energy efficiency since winning both the Community and Public Sector categories of the 2014 EECA Awards. In their new campaign ‘the Emissions Treble’, they have turned their attention to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions through transport efficiencies and driver training.

A combination of vehicle maintenance, driver training and reduced mileage has achieved a 12% reduction in petrol and diesel used by the Council’s fleet in 2014–15. This has saved 56 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions and $20,500 in public funds.

Forty-eight of the Council’s most frequent drivers attended the training, which was then extended to all staff in the form of fuel efficiency tips on the intranet and in the staff newsletter, alongside promotion of walking, cycling and public transport.

The Kāpiti Coast world-first electric refuse collection truck has clocked up 52,000 kilometres in energy efficient rubbish collections since it got on the road in 2013 and continues to generate fuel savings for the Council equal to around $3,800 per year.

More recently, a new 32 kilowatt grid-tied, solar electric system installed at the Paraparaumu waste water treatment plant in 2015 is expected to generate 42,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year and save six tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and $6,500 in energy costs each year. As a result of the Council’s combined efforts, energy consumption costs for 2014–15 financial year were the lowest they’ve been for six years.

Judges said:

Comprehensive group of long-term interlinked projects with excellent leadership. The Council has an
innovative and energetic approach to saving energy and they remain a high achiever in the public sector.


Opus International Consultants is a leading multi-disciplinary infrastructure consultancy with global reach and local connections.  In New Zealand, Opus operates from a network of 40 offices and employs over 1,700 staff.  They provide services on leading infrastructure projects for both the public and private sectors.

Opus Logo CB RGB

Related resources