NABERSNZ helps Meridian Energy extend its market-leading energy use

14 February 2020

New Zealand’s largest renewable energy company is making great strides in creating energy efficient workplaces.

Working with the New Zealand Green Building Council, Meridian now has NABERSNZ ratings for all its main office buildings. NABERSNZ helps companies understand how their buildings or tenancies are performing, and what opportunities exist to reduce their emissions. 

“We’re proud to be generating electricity exclusively from renewable resources. While retailing energy to thousands of clients, Meridian has always been keen to improve the efficiency of its own facilities. We want to take a lead in adopting international best practices and in reducing our environmental impact,” Meridian Corporate Account Manager Simon Briggs says.

All Meridian’s offices rated very highly with four stars or above. Four stars shows excellent performance and an outstanding contribution to the efficiency programs. Both Meridian’s Christchurch and Auckland office have a market-leading 5 star rating.

The NABERSNZ ratings allow Meridian to improve its buildings’ energy performance, optimize utility costs and increase their efficiency, and put in place initiatives for low carbon emissions. This is in line with its commitment to sustainability leadership and its focus on the United Nation Sustainable Development goals.

The Journey Ahead

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step - Lao Tzu

Thanks to NABERSNZ, Meridian knows there are further improvements to be made. Using the intelligent tool 3M developed by Economech Analytics, Meridian now has data and insights on the energy being used across its buildings.

“It is a straightforward, user-friendly and interactive tool which has helped us engage with staff and identify potential cost and energy savings. The graphs and trends extracted from our existing BMS & utility meter data have allowed us to benchmark our energy usage and clearly see where efficiencies can be made,” says Simon Briggs.

Shifting EV charging times

A review of EV charging at the Auckland and Christchurch offices found a common theme in when EV’s were being charged. Meridian is now considering managing demand by charging vehicles at night when energy costs and carbon emissions from electricity generation are considerably lower.

Using an efficient lighting system

Meridian is now using a daylight dimming system to successfully reduce the amount of power used for lighting. In its Christchurch office the new system has dropped power use by up to 20%.

Efficiency of power consumption  

Data shows servers account for about 15% of power used in Meridian’s Wellington office tenancy. Solar panels and battery storage are now being considered to offset this and provide an alternative to the standby diesel generator.

Upgrading Metering Tariffs

Meridian’s Twizel office was found to use around 160,000 kWh/year. This level borders two different tariffs. Upgrading the current utility meter to a ‘time-of-use’ type may provide opportunities to cut energy and line charges. However, with the high peak load the building uses in the morning and a new high speed EV charger being installed onsite, the decision has been made consider reducing peak energy use before committing to any upgrades.

Common low-cost saving opportunities.

NABERSNZ assessor Simon Ross has helped identity a number of ways Meridian can further reduce energy use. These include:

  • Using heat pumps for hot water generation
  • Reclaiming and recovering waste heat from the server rooms
  • Demand management on EV charging systems and heating systems
  • Scheduling food & drink vending machines to operate during working hours

Lessons learned by Meridian

As well as identifying how their offices are performing and how they can be improved, the process has helped Meridian continue the use of NABERSNZ and data collection.

  • The benefits of getting a tenancy rating and base building rating by the same NABERSNZ assessor has really provided value in this service, it also helps keep costs down for both tenants and landlords.
  • Requesting from the landlord what check metering data is available in your building early is a good way to begin the process.

Meridian plans to target half star performance improvement across its portfolio.  It’s looking to work with industry leaders to identify ways of reducing carbon emissions through onsite renewables, better building controls and automatic performance monitoring.

It’s also working with Economech Analytics to help commercial office customers identity poor performing buildings. They’re developing a benchmarking service to help customers reduce their energy use.

"Thanks to NABERSNZ assessor Simon Ross for guiding us through the NABERSNZ assessment process, and for working with our staff to identify the energy and carbon saving opportunities."

Find out more about NABERSNZ here