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YHA New Zealand staff planting a native tree

YHA New Zealand Celebrates Carbon Footprint Reduction of 21%

YHA New Zealand reconfirmed its carboNZero certification this week by celebrating a 21% reduction in carbon emissions since 2016.


This celebration comes off the back of their nomination for the Environmental category of the New Zealand Tourism Awards, to be held this Thursday 24 October in Christchurch. Both achievements represent a challenge from YHA to the rest of the tourism industry. “Our approach has always been to build in sustainability from the ground up. If we can do it in an extremely price-sensitive, low-margin operating environment, we really believe everyone should be able to do it,” says General Manager – Marketing and Sales, Brian Westwood.

The not-for-profit was the world’s first accommodation network to become carboNZeroCertTM certified, and with thirteen properties, remains the largest. To remain certified, YHA’s managed hostels and National Office must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% per year. The organisation has beaten this target for the third straight year, slashing greenhouse gas emissions by almost 8% from 2018 to 2019.


Solar panel installation at YHA Franz Josef

Enviro-Mark Solutions Ltd audit and verify measurements annually as part of YHA’s status as a carboNZeroCertTM certified organisation. Since becoming certified in 2016 YHA has reduced its emissions by 195 tonnes CO2 equivalent. That’s the equivalent of 34 homes’ electricity usage for a whole year.

As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, YHA New Zealand offsets its remaining carbon emissions via an accredited carbon offset programme supporting the regrowth of natural forest on the Banks Peninsula.

“This is important to us as Cora Wilding, YHA’s founder, established the first network of hostels in New Zealand on the peninsula,” explains General Manager – Hostel Operations, Simon Cartwright. “We are committed to offsetting our carbon emissions through native tree planting and habitat restoration. Our emissions have been offset through Hinewai Reserve behind Akaroa and Waipuna Bush above Little River.”

Hinewai Reserve on Banks Peninsula

Most greenhouse gas emissions come from gas and electricity usage, which is why YHA continues to invest in solar and geothermal energy. Replacing lights with LEDs, new solar installations, double-glazing and insulation upgrades all help shrink hostels’ carbon footprint.

The new YHA Lake Tekapo, a state-of-the-art 128-bed development which opened in April 2019, is fitted with photovoltaic panels and a solar hot water heating system. Cartwright is particularly delighted to achieve this further reduction despite the addition of a new, larger property being added to the network.

Sustainability lies at the heart of YHA’s mission, right down to the tree in the logo. Other recent accolades for YHA have included being recognised as finalists in the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards alongside Sunshine Solar, with YHA Aoraki Mt Cook recognised as a finalist in the Qualmark 100% Pure New Zealand Experience Awards.

YHA Aoraki Mt Cook was a finalist in the 100% Pure New Zealand Awards

“YHA New Zealand has been committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit for a long time,” Cartwright continues. “It’s core to our business and draws both staff and guests who share our values and commitments. Yet it’s more than that – it’s the right thing to do for Earth and our future.”

“We’ve been measuring our carbon footprint and working to reduce it for many years. Our carboNZeroCertTM certification via Enviro-Mark provides assurance to us and our guests that we are making good progress.”

22 October 2019

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