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Unison Win Low-Carbon Future Award at New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards

June 30, 2022 10:03 AM

Unison Networks is proud to be named the winner of the Low-Carbon Future Award at last night’s New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards, for its pioneering sustainability work on the recently operational Windsor Substation.

The twelfth annual Energy Excellence Awards took place last night at Christchurch’s new Te Pae Convention Centre, with more than 600 industry professionals attending the black-tie event.

The prestigious awards recognise excellence and achievement across the energy sector, seeking best practice in Aotearoa and celebrating the industry’s important contribution to society and the economy.

Windsor Substation’s Low-Carbon Future Award, sponsored by BusinessNZ Energy Council, celebrates emissions reduction initiatives undertaken by the New Zealand energy sector.

Located in Parkvale, Hastings, the revolutionary substation services approximately 3,500 residential and commercial accounts in the local areas.

In a first for the industry, it has been designed and built in a way that reduces carbon footprint and uses materials that are kind on the environment and people.

Ken Sutherland, Unison Group Chief Executive says, “I’m extremely proud of our team and grateful to have Unison recognised through this award. It is a testament to the incredible passion and commitment of our people in building a substation that is a catalyst for industry change.”

“Thanks to the Energy Excellence Awards, and congratulations to the other finalists in our category, Orion and Auckland Transport, for the innovative and exciting work they are doing to challenge the status quo in the energy sector.”

“When Windsor Substation’s 11kV switchboard reached the end of its life, Unison identified the opportunity to pilot an innovative, low-carbon switch-room that could change the way substations were designed and built in the future”, says Jaun Park, Chief Operating Officer of Unison Networks.

“Our vision at Unison is to lead a sustainable energy future that supports consumers’ changing energy needs, while enabling our communities to prosper for generations to come.

“Rebuilding Windsor Substation presented an opportunity for Unison to materialise our vision and showcase how modern substations can be safe and functional, as well as flexible, sustainable and beautiful.”

“It is a showcase of sustainability and provides Unison and the wider industry with a platform to reap the benefits of sustainability for the future of the sector,” said Mr Park. 

Key features of the design were informed by the Living Building Challenge Framework, a stringent international green building certification that applies to building projects.

The significant sustainability features of Windsor Substation are:

  • A 363% reduction in carbon compared to a typical substation
  • Solar energy powered, with excess energy sent back to the grid
  • Captures and recycles water
  • Constructed using locally sourced, repurposed and environmentally friendly materials
  • Native habitat established

Assisted by Charissa Snijders Architect and Tricia Love Consultants Ltd, experts from across the sustainable building industry, Unison engineers designed and built Windsor Substation to be modular, meaning it can be replicated and built again across the network, and relocatable.

Project Engineering Team Leader, Paul Humphreys, says this small building has potential beyond its size to not only help meet future demand, but to help build engagement with Unison’s customers and the wider community around the future vision and direction of the organisation, and the wider electricity industry.

“The project provides Unison with a platform for future projects and future flexibility,” says Mr Humphreys.