Wellington City Council teamed up with some of Wellington’s brightest social entrepreneurs from Enspiral, Generation Zero and PledgeMe, to bring local Smart Energy projects to life.
The ‘Smart Energy Challenge’ supported the development of community-led projects to reduce energy use and increase clean energy in Wellington.
Participants developed their smart energy projects in a fun, collaborative and inspiring environment made up of events, workshops and corporate networking opportunities. The end of the Challenge saw the launch of crowdfunding campaigns for each team. All three projects successfully met their funding targets ($26,863 total) on PledgeMe, which the Council matched through the Smart Energy Capital Fund (up to $23,000 total).
The Challenge created a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, and combining networks and building new connections in Wellington. Wellington City Council looked for people who were ready to go beyond the idea and into action and who would benefit from support, a process and a mentor community to help them focus on and implement their projects. The eight young people immersed in the challenge received invaluable business and innovation training.
The specific projects that were born in the Challenge all contribute to making NZ more sustainable:
- Shyft – car share that reduces the numbers of cars needed in a city centre, reducing car emissions.
- Aro Solar – reducing the electricity costs of the Aro community centre and promoting solar power within the community.
- Solair Heating – heating homes with solar energy to reduce electricity use and power bills.
In Wellington, the Challenge is part of a rapidly evolving and growing social enterprise ecosystem. A few years ago Akina, Enspiral, Lifehack and Inspiring Stories either didn’t exist or were only starting out. They are now building profile and impact, and most importantly attracting people and resources.
Wellington City Council was the winner of the Renewables Innovation category and a finalist in the Community Innovation category at the 2014 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.