On 22 June 2015 in Auckland, the New Zealand German Business Association and German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce hosted the Smart Solutions for Energy Efficiency and Renewables in Buildings Conference. A range of engaging political and business experts from Australia, Germany and New Zealand came together to discuss current market trends, innovations and regulatory frameworks within the field of building efficiency. In addition, five German companies presented their latest technologies in energy-efficient building solutions.
All conference attendees gathered for a light breakfast, where they were welcomed by Dr. Anne-Marie Schleich (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany) and Monique Surges (CEO, New Zealand German Business Association, Inc.). Ambassador Dr. Schleich opened the conference with a discussion of the significant Climate Change Treaty for 2015 in Paris, with further expansion on the importance of e-mobility (electric cars) in making energy-efficient housing concepts a reality. Dr. Schleich also gave examples of successful energy efficiency programmes such as the Efficiency House Plus in Berlin.
After the conclusion of the official welcome, all guests moved into the first conference session, Energy Efficiency in Buildings. The first speakers was Jelka Schedlinsky, who presented the Energy Efficiency Export Initiative by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Ms. Schedlinsky gave all present a detailed account of Germany’s current efforts in energy-efficient construction, as well as the future improvements required. In 2015, Germany has implemented an energy-saving meter pilot programme, with the intention of introducing new labelling for heating systems in 2016. With a renewed focus on energy consulting and heating evaluation, the nation’s Energy Efficiency Strategy will also include a 2b Euro investment in a CO2 Building Modernisation Programme. Overall, Germany’s goal for building renovation is two per cent per annum, with 10 Mio heating systems requiring upgrades.
Mike Frew was the second speaker, representing the EECA Business Team of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. Mr. Frew gave particular attention in his presentation to the need for meaningful partnerships in energy engagement and building designs. The right partnerships, according to Mr. Frew, were much more important and effective than subsidies from the New Zealand Government. He put further points to the Government, such as the increasing chances of profitability in commercial solar projects. Residential solar projects have been of particularly low interest to the Government, while insulation and e-mobility projects have been major foci. Grid-tied solar energy production contributes only 22 megawatts of the collective 1171 megawatts generated in total (1.9 per cent). Mr. Frew also gave all attendees a broad picture of the biggest renewable assets in New Zealand, led by hydro-electric at 60 per cent and closely followed by wind and geothermal energy. He closed his presentation with an overview of building efficiency initiatives already in place: NABERS NZ, the Better Buildings Partnership and City Switch Green Office.
Following Mr. Frew, Dr. Marco Schmidt took the stage. Dr. Schmidt is a German Consultant for Energy Efficiency in Complex Building Systems. The focus of his discussion was a partnership with German hospitals, resulting in the “Green Hospital Study”. Of particular relevance to Germany was the increasing demand for efficient cooling in buildings due to an increase in the use of glass but also the impact of the urban heat island effect and subsequent increases in electricity consumption.
Following Dr Schmidt’s presentation, two German renewables energy experts were given the opportunity to talk about their project references and the business opportunities they see for the New Zealand and Australian market. EUROSOL GmbH is a German EPC contractor & solutions provider for power generation, energy saving, e-mobility & power management. Consulting Engineer Dr Vollmer provides solutions in the field of technical building services, industrial planning and energy management for communities.
By this stage, the time had come for a well-deserved lunch break and some networking. Returning from their break, guests re-seated themselves for the second session, Sustainable Building Solutions. The session was opened by Dr.-Ing Robert Himmler, Visiting Professor at Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment at King Mongkut’s University Thonburi (Thailand). Dr. Himmler presented a showcase of passive and plus house design concepts for sub-tropical climates, highlighting the fact that the passive house standard can be implemented to full effect in warm and humid environments.
In support of Dr Himmler’s presentation, Glen Murdoch introduced the New Zealand Passive House Institute and introduced examples of passive house designs in New Zealand, stressing the fact that these do not have to be more expensive than the cost-driven projects that building developers are building today.
To conclude the second session, three German companies introduced technologies suitable for passive house design. Among these companies, HANNO Werk GmbH & Co. KG is a German developer and manufacturer of high-quality joint sealing and sound absorption products. RAICO Bautechnik GmbH introduced their customized system solutions for curtain walls, glass roofs, windows and doors. LUNOS Lüftungstechnik GmbH is one of the best-known and innovative manufacturers of residential ventilation systems in Europe.
During the final conference session, the two representatives of the New Zealand and Australian Green Building Council, Alex Cutler and Robin Mellon, gave a short overview of opportunities for sustainable buildings in both markets. They were joined by Pro Clima’s Thomas van Raamsdonk. The German manufacturer has had several years of market development experience in both New Zealand and Australia and aims to educate the public as well as the business community about the advantages of energy efficient building design. All three panellists agreed that behavioural change among consumers is necessary and a consensus-oriented discussion about the environmental, economic and social benefits of green buildings is needed first and foremost. However, the dialogue with building industry professionals needs to be strengthened in the future as well.
We hope that our conference has offered avenues for further dialogue and mutual cooperation opportunities. The participation of so many companies, associations and delegates shows that the discussion on Energy Efficiency and Renewables in Buildings is necessary, especially with regard to New Zealand’s Energy Strategy 2011-2021 and the on-going rebuild of an environmentally sustainable city of Christchurch and increased residential building activities in Auckland.
You can view photo impressions and presentations of the conference here.