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Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference: Highlighting emerging sustainability and social business



The Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference was held 15-16 November 2010 in New Zealand, and it was convened to demonstrate two new concepts, low-travel conferencing and emerging sustainability. The conference was held at seven venues along the length of the country that were connected via the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN) using an HD323 bridge between the university lecture theatres. Each venue was organised as a small local conference with local speakers, catering and activities. Live video of the speaker and their PowerPoint slides was projected onto dual screens at all the other venues, and question and answer sessions simultaneously displayed the moderators at each venue and the audience at all of the venues. The presenters came from all walks of life, and gave reports of how their work or business was progressing in a new direction toward energy, environmental and social sustainability. Most presentations were limited to 10 minutes so that a large number of reports could be heard. All presenters were advised to focus on reporting their own experiences of emerging sustainability and operation of social business rather than to discuss the un-sustainability of the 'business as usual' path of society. The feedback from the 250 participants was overwhelmingly positive, with most citing the progress exhibited in the presentations and the “whole of society“ approach as providing them with a fruitful learning and inclusive experience. The conference was recorded and videos are available from the conference website
SOCIAL BUSINESS, 2011, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.37-58
ISSN2044-4087 print /ISSN2044-9860 online © Westburn Publishers Ltd. doi: 10.1362/204440811X570554
Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference:
Highlighting emerging sustainability and
social business
Susan Krumdieck, University of Canterbury, New Zealand*
Shane Orchard, Resource Consultants Ltd, New Zealand
Abstract The Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference was held 15-16
November 2010 in New Zealand, and it was convened to demonstrate two new
concepts, low-travel conferencing and emerging sustainability. The conference
was held at seven venues along the length of the country that were connected via
the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN) using an HD323
bridge between the university lecture theatres. Each venue was organised as
a small local conference with local speakers, catering and activities. Live video
of the speaker and their PowerPoint slides was projected onto dual screens
at all the other venues, and question and answer sessions simultaneously
displayed the moderators at each venue and the audience at all of the venues.
The presenters came from all walks of life, and gave reports of how their work
or business was progressing in a new direction toward energy, environmental
and social sustainability. Most presentations were limited to 10 minutes so that
a large number of reports could be heard. All presenters were advised to focus
on reporting their own experiences of emerging sustainability and operation of
social business rather than to discuss the un-sustainability of the ‘business as
usual’ path of society. The feedback from the 250 participants was overwhelmingly
positive, with most citing the progress exhibited in the presentations and the
“whole of society” approach as providing them with a fruitful learning and
inclusive experience. The conference was recorded and videos are available from
the conference website
Keywords green conference, e-conference, sustainability, community action,
*Correspondence details and biographies for the authors are located at the end of the article.
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Call for Presenters and Participants
The Signs of Change Conference will showcase examples of fundamental change in a
wide variety of contexts. This conference is a rst-of-a-kind experiment in connecting
people from all walks of life in a format using the latest information and communication
technology. You can be a part of history by participating at your local venue, or by telling
the country about a sign of change that you have been part of or have observed. It’s not
about what is not sustainable, or what ‘we’ should change. This conference is about
what the change to a sustainable path for our people looks like. We are all going to
understand better when we’ve seen, heard and engaged in the conversation about the
signs of change that are emerging.
Under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, signatory nations agreed to reduce green
house gas (GHG) emissions. The emissions trading mechanism and carbon taxes
have been implemented to some degree, but emissions continue to grow. Even if
high-level economic instruments and clean development mechanisms are applied,
emissions reductions can only be realised by people taking action to reduce fossil
fuel demand. Transportation, and in particular, air travel, is one of the most energy
intensive activities, and one of the fastest growing emissions sectors. Academics are
expected to participate in their field on an international scale, and as a result have a
large emissions profile due to conference travel. Professionals in public service and
industry attend conferences to keep abreast of the latest developments and make
connections. The high GHG emissions footprint of conference travel is particularly
problematic for people working in the sustainability field. The Signs of Change
National e-Conference was designed to provide the benefits of a conference while
greatly reducing the environmental and negative impacts.
The benefits of participating in a conference include time away from work to focus
on a particular subject, learning from other experts, making connections, and helping
to advance knowledge in a field. Environmental impacts include the emissions from
travel, and the higher energy and water use associated with hotel accommodation.
Negative aspects are travel time, time away from family and costs. Of course, there
are local economic benefits of people coming to a conference and spending money
on hospitality and sight-seeing. There are also ancillary benefits if participants extend
the conference travel to enjoy a holiday. Extensive internet search for low-travel or
otherwise green conferences, as well as literature and trade journal review indicates
that there is little progress in conducting low-impact conferences.
The technology to communicate via video link is mature. Communications
companies can provide hardware, software and servers for corporate e-meetings,
virtual presentations, document sharing and market presentations. The Youkon
Room, Infinite Conferencing Media, and Huawei are examples of companies that are
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Krumdieck & Orchard Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference 39
currently serving the corporate sector. Universities and governments have tended to
set up their own video conferencing systems. In 2006 the New Zealand government
funded the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN) to facilitate
communication between universities via dedicated e-meeting rooms. The Advanced
Video Collaboration Centre (AVCC) was established to provide the IT services for
the network, and in 2010 a new HD323 bridge was purchased to allow two-way high
quality video between lecture theatres.
Webinars have been in use for several years, and are an approach to virtual
conferencing for participants with a particular field of interest. The webinar usually
involves virtual vendor exhibition halls where product information can be down-
loaded, and video presentations can be downloaded to view at your convenience
in your own office. The presenters at many webinars have recorded their talks at
their own desk as well, and thus do not benefit from the dynamic of speaking to an
audience. Webinars often have webchat sessions where a panel of experts will answer
questions on particular topics during a specified timeframe. Webinars are advertised
much like conventional conferences, with people asked to register and sometimes pay
an access fee. Anecdotal reports from researchers who have participated in a webinar
is that one tends to multi-task at the work station while the video is playing and
loose attention on the speaker. Also the motivation to engage with the information is
low as other work and distractions have more immediacy. Most people feel that the
webchat discussions are not as interesting or satisfying as a personal conversation.
Electronic discussions held prior to a conventional on-location conference have
been referred to as e-conferences. Discussion topics, documents or videos are made
available for down-load in the few weeks the conference in order to generate ideas
or feedback on a convention statement. A more open-ended discussion format is used
in pre-conference e-discussions. These preliminary e-discussions always have a well-
structured agenda and timeline. Organisers produce a synopsis of the e-discussion
for presentation at the conference. An example e-discussion is the “Targets for
biodiversity beyond 2010 – research supporting policy”.1 Several questions were set
out and the results presented and discussed at a delegates meeting during the regular
On-line discussions and open forums not associated with an on-location conference
are sometimes called e-conferences. These discussions are focused on a particular
topic, convention or proposal and are moderated. This type of e-conference differs
from a blog as they have a specific agenda and time line. They also differ from a
government consultation process as the discussion is used to form the outcome rather
than just organised as feedback on a prepared document or policy. An example is
the “SYNBIOSAFE” open e-conference to stimulate debate on the societal issues of
synthetic biology, which was held over 4 days in 2008, and attracted 182 posts.2 A
guide for organising these types of moderated discussion e-conferences prepared by
Lin McDevitt-Pugh (2003)3 emphasises that organisation is important in setting an
agreed-upon agenda, ground rules, moderation and a specific time frame.
An electronically networked e-conference involves a real-time feed of presentations
being sent to other venues where people can attend to watch the proceedings and
hold local discussions. One example of such an event was found, the “Mary First
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Disciple National eConference” convened by the Australian Council of Bishops.4
This e-conference was held for the fourth year in 2010, with the programme
available at local sites in 271 schools and parish offices across Australia, plus venues
in New Zealand and 17 other countries. The one-day programme had presentations
by speakers and a panel discussion with 20-minute breaks in between for facilitated
local discussion. A host introduced each video presentation and recognised some of
the local groups participating. The feed was high quality and well produced similar to
a community television channel. Some of the presentations were pre-recorded videos
and none seemed to have a live audience. This networked e-conference clearly seems
to provide the benefits of low travel, local personal interaction, a dedicated day away
from normal pursuits to focus on one idea with like-minded people, information and
learning, low cost, and greatly increased participation compared to an on-location
The Signs of Change conference had seven local venues throughout the length of
the country. Each venue was organised and operated in the usual way with morning
and afternoon tea breaks, catered lunch, name badges, programs, vendor’s stalls and
conference dinners. The two most remote venues at Kerikeri in the Far North and
Invercargill in Southland received live feed via high-speed internet connection but
did not have interactive audio and video. Each of the other five venues were lecture
theatres at universities and the Royal Society on the KAREN network. Each of these
venues hosted at least one session where all of the speakers were presenting from that
node to the rest of the conference. Questions were also asked from the university
nodes during the feedback sessions.
Figure 1 shows the locations of the venues on a map, together with the driving
times, along the 2000 km length of New Zealand. There is a 12 hour passenger
train between Auckland and Wellington, and a 3 hour ferry crossing plus 5 hour
train journey is possible once daily between Wellington and Christchurch. There
are regional bus services, but the most convenient way to travel between cities in
New Zealand is by air. Attendees and speakers travelled to the nearest venue. The
longest journey was made by a registrant from Twizel who travelled the 4 hours to
Christchurch by motorcycle. One speaker flew from Napier to Christchurch.
Several groups were involved in local venue support and advertising. People from
the different groups were involved in local organisation at the different venues. The
organisations were mainly associated with sustainability and social responsibility, but
a network of good will between people in different cities was needed to manage
the logistics of the multi-venue approach. The following groups were supporters of
the Signs of Change e-conference, with the SEF and ESR using it as their national
conference for the year:
• Advanced Energy and Material Systems Lab, Department of Mechanical
Engineering, University of Canterbury (AEMS Lab)
Engineers for Social Responsibility (ESR)
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Krumdieck & Orchard Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference 41
Sustainable Energy Forum (SEF)
New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities (NZCSC)
The Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ)
Transition Towns Aotearoa
Forest and Bird
Sustainable Habitat Challenge (SHaC)
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
The conference was funded primarily by the AEMS Lab, with resources that would
have otherwise been spent to provide overseas conference attendance for one or
two events. A grant was received from the Positive Futures Trust and video and
microphone equipment was provided without charge by a local ICT company, asnet
FIGURE 1 Map of New Zealand with conference venues and road driving times
Sourced from LINZ, New Zealand 1: 3 Million. Crown Copyright reserved.
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Technologies. The main expense for the conference was hiring a person to provide
the administrative functions of national organisation in the six months leading to the
conference, and for a web designer to set up a website. A major contribution was
made by the participating universities and the RSNZ who provided use of the lecture
theatres and the HD323 bridge equipment, and full participation of the on-site IT
personnel and the AVCC director without charge. The AEMS Lab also provided a
grant to allow forty students to attend at minimal or no charge. The registration for
two days was kept as low as possible, with the professional rate under $200 NZD
and retirees and student registration less than half this rate. The participating venues
University of Canterbury, Christchurch
Auckland University of Technology, Auckland
Royal Society of New Zealand, Wellington
Otago University, Dunedin
Massey University, Palmerston North
Venture Southland, Invercargill
Oraora Resort, Kerikeri
Meetings of the national and local organisers were held via web-meeting technology
monthly and then weekly leading up to the conference. Most of the local organisers
had never met each other and were not part of the same organisations. The IT
specialists at each venue also did not know each other, and so were establishing
working relationships under the direction of the AVCC as well as developing new
technical capabilities in this first use of the KAREN network for a networked public
e-conference. Two system tests and one dry-run were held in order to develop the
plan for the running of the conference. However none of the preparations were able
to use the actual venues due to lecture schedules. The technology performed in line
with the high expectations during the conference. IT specialists were on duty at each
venue to manage cameras, PowerPoint presentations, microphones, and the bridge
connection. There were no blips or interruptions in any of the connections and
people at each venue were able to virtually ignore the technology aspects and focus
on the content of the presentations from around the country. Each venue had good
quality video of the speakers and excellent quality of the audio and PowerPoint with
simultaneous two-screen projection and control of the presentation by the speaker.
The national organisers handled all communication with presenters and registrants,
catering contracts, collecting and receipting of registrations, organisation of the
schedule and printing of the name badges and programmes. Local organisers, all of
whom were affiliated with a university or the RSNZ were charged with securing the
local venue and providing local advertising and media relations. Local organisers also
arranged any guest speakers for the local opening before the network connection
went live, and set up any local activities like a conference dinner or breakfast
discussion. The main job of the local organisers during the conference was to act as
moderators. They introduced speakers from their venues and ensured they kept to
time. They collected and asked questions during feedback sessions. There were three
more tertiary institutions involved at the initial stages, but the venues could not be
booked at no-cost and so were not included. There were four other groups in remote
locations that requested the web-feed connection to the conference, but the quality
of the internet in these areas was not thought to be fast enough for video feed.
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The run plan worked well, and is offered as a model for any future networked
e-conferences. Local IT personnel and organisers brought the system live 15 minutes
before local start times to test all connections and equipment. Local start times were
set with an opening address 30 minutes before the national conference opening. This
gave time for local housekeeping such as safety and emergency procedures, locations
of facilities and food, and introduction of the local organisers and audience members.
The local emergency procedures were particularly relevant at the Christchurch venue
where strong aftershocks from the 4 September earthquake were still occurring. The
national opening was given a 15 minute time slot so that moderators at each local
venue could be introduced to the country as a whole, and so that audience shots
could be shared with some acknowledgement of groups in attendance and reports of
weather at each location. This helped to provide an atmosphere of connection and
a sense of the identity of each place and the people there. All venues held tea breaks
and lunch at the same times. Sessions were organised by venue location rather than
topic or theme. Having a whole session from one location made the moderation
much smoother.
Keeping to the time schedule was perceived as critical to successfully using the
networked conference format. Each venue had a moderator, a time-keeper and
a communicator. The communicator was a person who had been involved in the
organisational e-meetings and was familiar with the SCOPIA e-meeting system. The
communicator had a laptop computer in live chat connection with the communicators
at all of the other venues.
Questions and answers were a challenge for the networked e-conference format. It
is essential at a conference that participants be able to ask presenters questions. A new
model was worked out through trial and error in the practice runs and e-meetings
prior to the conference. Questions were not put forward after each presentation,
but rather question sessions over whole sessions were held just before programme
breaks. At the beginning of the session, notepaper was handed out to participants.
They were instructed to write questions or comments to presenters at any time and
raise their hand to have the note picked up by a runner. The communicator would
read the questions submitted and type them into the chat page. This way, all of the
communicators at all venues knew what the questions were and which venue was
asking. The venue where the session was held moderated the question session.
It was important that the moderators ask all of the questions rather than allowing
the participants to use the microphones. The reasoning was to manage control of the
experience from the perspective of the networked venues. There would necessarily
be time taken for people with questions to come to a microphone. This is acceptable
if everyone is in one venue as people can see the person approaching the microphone
and this is part of the process. But, in the networked e-conference setting, these types
of movements would not be seen by the other venues, and would be experienced
as “dead air space”. The question and answer process was organised to make sure
dead air space did not occur. The moderator would invite the appropriate speaker to
come to the microphone while the question was being asked by the moderator. The
presenter would then answer the question and possibly have a bit of follow-up with
the moderator. After dealing with two local questions, the moderator would ask the
communicator if there were any questions from other venues. The communicator
would use a microphone to say something like “yes, we have a question from
Wellington”. Then the IT staff, who were also monitoring the SCOPIA chat, would
switch the national video feed to both the questioning venue and the answering venue.
The questioning moderator would ask the question from the note, and the answer
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would be given from the session venue. All of the moderators were comfortable with
public speaking and the teamwork between the communicators and moderators was
essential to the smooth operation of this system. There was no dead air space, and
typically 3-4 presenters were asked between 5 and 8 questions after each session with
questions coming from all of the interactive venues. The system worked well and
feedback from participants was positive.
In total, 250 people participated in the conference across the country. Christchurch
had the highest attendance with 72 participants, organisers and presenters,
Wellington had 57, Auckland 41 and Dunedin had 32 registrants. By comparison,
the previous year’s joint ESR and SEF conference in Auckland had 63 participants.
The networked e-conference format provided increased participation among all
groups, but particularly among the people in remote towns and low income people
without conference travel support like students. All 22 attendees in Invercargill and
14 attendees in Kerikeri stated that they would not have been able to participate
if they had to travel to Christchurch. Two people in Invercargill said they would
have travelled to Dunedin. When topics related to sustainability are discussed, it is
important that people from low population areas in the remote and often indigenous
communities be part of the conversation.
The unsolicited feedback received from participants was positive regarding the
way the conference worked and the experience of the participants. There were no
complaints received.
Thanks for that most interesting teleconference! We have been talking for days about it.
I really enjoyed the conference and have found many of the presentations very useful.
Phew! That all worked out well in the end! Many thanks to you and your team for the
great effort behind the scenes.
We enjoyed the conference and listening to all the presenters.
I was at most of the SoC conference earlier this week and enjoyed it. Thank you for
organising and leading the event.
It was fabulous from our perspective in Invercargill to be able to participate, enjoy the
expertise of everyone, be part of a bigger vision and have our own regional conversations-
even being able to say ‘yes we are doing that or something similar here’ - af rming and
helping us continue to hold the hope!
Firstly I want to congratulate you on the conference, well done! It is innovative and
interesting and there is another day to look forward to as well.
Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the Signs of Change conference. The format
was different and it was great to see a cross section of experiences.
The 40 AEMS Lab sponsorships for students were taken up by both undergraduates
and postgraduates at all of the university venues. In Wellington, an additional 23
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students in a sustainability course at Massey University attended the conference with
their instructor. The feedback from students had a common theme of appreciation
for exposure to ideas and information outside of their field of study.
I was very fortunate to have been one of the students sponsored to the Signs of Change
conference and just wanted to send my thanks to Susan.
I’m used to engineering where everything is always numbers and graphs, but the
conference both days hasn’t been just numbers and graphs. It’s a lot of passion for all
sorts of things presented in a variety of ways.
I truly do appreciate having had the opportunity to attend and to be exposed to some
amazing people who are doing some really neat things for sustainability around the
Thank you so much for the awesome conference and your sponsorship, which allowed
me to attend. After 4 years of engineering, this was an invaluable experience to
understand what goes on outside my eld.
The impact of the Signs of Change networked e-conference can be examined in
terms of travel time saved, cost savings, and carbon emissions avoided. The analysis
assumes that all of the 176 participants who were not from Christchurch attended
the conference by flying on the national carrier, Air New Zealand, on the day prior
to the conference, and spending Wednesday and Thursday night in a hotel. Table 1
gives the number of participants travelling from each city, the air fares, taxi fares, and
the accommodation costs at two hotels near the venue for the days of the conference.
The calculation of savings assumes that student registrations fly using the lowest cost
air fare and stay at the cheaper motor lodge and walk to the venue. The professional
registrants are assumed to use the higher tier air fare, and stay at the full service
hotel and take a $10 taxi ride to the venue. All professional participants are assumed
to take the taxi to the airport in their home cities and the $25 taxi in Christchurch
each way. Student registrants are assumed to take the $15 shuttle for all trips to the
airport. No parking costs are included. The travel time shown in Table 1 is only for
the round trip flight, and does not include the taxi travel time. The cost savings from
using the networked e-conference is estimated to be more than $140,000 NZD, or
on average, $835 per person. This level of travel cost would preclude many of the
registrants from participating in the conference.
Carbon emissions were not objectively “reduced” by the e-conference. Carbon
“savings” were calculated using the CarboNZero5, and are not meant to represent an
actual carbon reduction. The emissions levels presented in Table 2 are for the airline
trips from Table 1, and two nights in a hotel per person (Tables overleaf). We assume
that all of the registrants moved through their cities to get to the local e-conference
venue in a way that would lead to similar fuel use as the trips to the airport if they had
travelled to Christchurch. Thus, the carbon emissions associated with hotel nights
and air travel would equal 86,671.58 kg CO2-e. The e-conference was held, and all
of the participants in other cities did not fly and they stayed at their own homes,
Krumdieck & Orchard Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference 45
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with associated carbon emissions of 84.48 kg CO2-e. Thus, the carbon (and energy)
intensity of the e-conference was 1000 times lower than a normal conference.
The call for presenters and participants, as given at the beginning of the article,
makes clear that the objective of the conference was to move past the discussion
of the problems normally associated with sustainability, and to move past the usual
discussions of what “we” must do. The potential presenters were asked to report
either on work they are currently doing, or to report on their observations of work
of others that are signs of change in a divergent direction from the “business as
usual” (BAU), and transitioning toward sustainability. Circulation of the information
46 Social Business, Volume 1
TABLE 1. Data for round trip travel costs per person, accommodation costs for two
nights for all participants from each city, and flight times for each flight. Totals for
students, professionals and all participants are given in New Zealand currency.
Auckland PN Wgtn Dun Inver Keri Total
Participants 41 11 58 32 22 12 176
Students 9126800 44
Flight Costs
Smart Saver $206 $248 $155 $157 $248 $520 $7,388
Flexi Plus $528 $419 $415 $358 $390 $725 $60,238
Taxi Cost $120 $48 $69 $150 $30 $20 $36,576
Motel Economy $1,710 $190 $4,940 $1,520 $0 $0 $8,360
Hotel Deluxe $9,600 $3,000 $9,600 $7,200 $6,600 $3,600 $39,600
Total Cost $146,882
Flight Time
(min. for each
flight) 160 min 180 min 100 min 120 min 160 min 330 min 428 hr
TABLE 2. Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use associated with conference air travel
and hotel nights compared to 2 nights staying at home.
kg CO2-e
(one way flight)
Number of
Participants Total kg CO2-e
Hotel (2 nights) 15.93 176 2803.68
Air Travel (one way) (round trips)
Kerikeri 350.00 12 4,200.00
Dunedin 145.22 32 9,294.08
Wellington 163.00 58 18,908.00
Auckland 387.73 41 31,793.86
Invercargill 343.44 22 15,111.36
Palmerston North 207.30 11 4,560.60
Conference Travel (2 nights) 176 86,671.58
Home (2 nights) 0.48 176 84.48
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about the conference around a wide range of networks in New Zealand resulted in
a surplus of possible presentations. The conference was organised to give a “whole
of society” understanding of emerging sustainability by experience and evidence.
Presenters were selected in order to provide diversity of enterprises. The presentations
were kept necessarily very short, at 10 minutes, in order to maximise the breadth
of the evidence for change. An opening keynote address by the convenor gave a
thematic overview of the signs of change being presented. Six keynote speakers who
are recognised as experts in different fields were invited to present for 20 minutes.
Several of the presenters mentioned that 10 minutes was a challenging time frame.
However the majority of feedback from registrants was positive about the diversity,
breadth, and level of interest and learning provided by the format.
The presentations could be grouped by traditional discipline areas, e.g. energy,
transportation, governance, agriculture, environment, society, waste, business, homes.
However, upon reflection it becomes clear that the signs of change actually align with
different kinds of groupings that are more related to transition than to disciplines.
Dr. Susan Krumdieck gave the opening keynote address which recognised that the
signs of change brought forward to the conference shared fundamental underlying
expressions of a different world view from business as usual. She used the illustration
of looking back 100 years in the past at the BAU of that time and how many of those
ideas are now irrelevant. In the same way, we can look 100 years into the future and
examine how the path to a sustainable economy and way of life started here with
different perspectives and values. She proposed that at this point in time this new
path appears to be heresy (from the Greek meaning thinker) but will become the
main stream over time. The seminal point of difference between the unsustainable
BAU and the sustainable future is this heresy: “We have enough”.
Catalysts for change
Dr. Kennedy Graham, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Green Party, reported
on his member’s bill that would require accounting of sustainability indicators
along with the usual economic indicators in government policy analysis. The Public
Finance Sustainable Indicators Amendment Bill would require the government to
focus on sustainability-related issues. It would recognize that, under the Public
Finance Act, the Minister of Finance has a binding legal obligation to address certain
traditional macro-economic concepts. There is nothing in the current Act at all about
sustainability, and little about environmental or social indicators are acknowledged
in the current budgetary process.
Kyan Krumdieck, a university student and member of 350 Aotearoa, gave
background on the international movement of local group actions to urge politicians
to set carbon emission reduction targets. In New Zealand, the group has sought to
build common ground and relationships with politicians of all parties rather than
being confrontational. There are signs that the campaign style has had positive
effects. These include an increased willingness of MPs from the four major parties
to get involved in grass-roots community climate action, a stronger 2020 emission
reduction target than expected (10-20% instead of the expected 0-10%), support
for 350ppm as a target by the Labour Party and Green Party, and greater cross party
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collaboration on climate change issues than existed previously.
Dr. David Irwin of the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute (CPIT) reported on a
course redesign process to reposition outdoor qualifications towards providing a
strong connection with education for sustainability. Embracing sustainability in an
outdoor education context was found to require a re-evaluation of the values and
practices that underpin existing outdoor education programmes, which brought into
question what was being taught. The review process resulted in the development
of new curriculum content for a number of programmes at CPIT, and made a case
for compulsory sustainability focused courses in all years of the new Bachelor of
Sustainability and Outdoor Education degree. The degree will be delivered from
2011, and provides training for students intending to enter into secondary teaching
or other education oriented work.
Dr. Matt Morris and Dr. Sharon McIver of the University of Canterbury
Sustainability Office reported on the ‘eco-my-flat’ competition. The competition was
devised by, and run for, students at the University of Canterbury to support and
encourage change to more sustainable behaviours in their flats. Evaluations of the first
three years show not only the success of the competition but also the marked increase
in positive behaviour changes. We noted improvement against a range of domestic
sustainability indicators (shower times, composting, use of bikes and busses etc), as
well as willingness to engage with others about sustainability topics and an enhanced
sense of ‘belongingness’ within what has become an ‘eco-my-flat’ community.
Dr. Elizabeth Harris MD, a general practice physician, presented a plan to develop
lifestyle assessment and preventative health care procedures. The approach is based
on assessment of health before serious symptoms present by focusing on lifestyle,
sleep, fitness, exercise and diet. The new tools for doctors she proposed would
include on-line assessment, feedback and results which provide motivations and goals
to patients to improve their health by choice.
The changing landscape of the community
Dugald MacTavish, an irrigation engineer from the small town of Hampden, told a
story about the journey of his town. A small group started meeting and discussing big
sustainability problems many years ago. They followed a progression of community
action that led them to improvements in the amenities of their village, and ultimately
they hosted a national debate challenging the dominant paradigm that growth is the
best way to secure our children’s future.
Shane Orchard & Margaret Jefferies reported on the growth of new community
initiatives that have arisen in response to future-focused concerns. These initiatives
are working with new approaches to community development in order to engineer
a transition away from undesirable trends in business as usual. An increasingly
common focus is that of ‘re-localisation’ in one or more forms. This refers to changes
that reduce the dependence of local communities on external inputs, especially those
relying on cheap oil, and examples include its application to food production, decision
making, transport, and energy systems. However the real sign of change coming from
these initiatives may be a new and evolving understanding of how pervasive and large
scale drivers might be effectively addressed at the local level.
James Samuel of Transition Towns Aotearoa discussed relocalisation initiatives
in New Zealand. These activities represent new ways of being and doing, which
recognise our inherent connectedness, and envision a healthy planet and a healthy
humanity thriving in concert with all of life. Examples from around the country
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include community gardens, food exchanges, community supported agriculture and
local currency. The Ooooby project is one example which supports the production
of organic local food ‘Out of our own backyards’.
Robin Allison described the Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, a 32-home co-
housing neighbourhood in Ranui, West Auckland. Earthsong was founded to build
a neighbourhood that is more socially and environmentally sustainable. Robust
social infrastructure, though less visible than the green architecture, site design and
permaculture for which Earthsong is more widely known, continues to underpin the
neighbourhood. Alignment to a shared vision and clear group agreements around
communication, decision-making and cooperation, have allowed a group of ordinary
people to work together to develop a major innovative housing development. The
inclusive development process maximized the empowerment and contributions from
all. By balancing the need for individual privacy and autonomy with cooperation and
commitment to community, and by applying the principles of green architecture and
services on a neighbourhood scale, Earthsong demonstrates a multi-layered approach
to creating a healthier and more sustainable living environment.
Harvey Jones, Sharon Stevens, Phil Stevens and Jill Walcroft reported on a local
currency project designed to build on the proven benefits including enhanced
sustainability, social justice and community building. Multiple modes of trade add
resilience to the economy and help the community to weather economic shock. Local
currencies also encourage local production, skills-development and relationship-
building in ways that could be lifelines if there are disruptions in more geographically
dispersed supply chains. They can also affect the culture of a locale, making people
more conscious of their attitudes toward money, consumption and production, and
teaching a community that it can be self-sustaining. Design of the currency, including
note design, security aspects, scalability and the trading model, have been developed.
Lani Evans and Jill Hayhurst reported from Dunedin about the Youth In the
Community programme. One project explored generosity of children and young
people and the cycle of giving to the community. The students in the study valued
generosity and looked for more ways to do good work. Other examples highlighted
engaged, energetic, positive and passionate youth who organize actions and participate
in environmental events. In 2008 the Regeneration network was formed to connect
together young change-makers around the country to share ideas, collaborate and
inspire each other. They also hold events around the country and have a collaborative,
family-type structure. In 2011, fifteen young leaders will tour the country to share
their expertise through skills workshops, weekend camps, forums, and events for
local youth expected to involve 5000 to 7000 young people.
Amanda Yates reported on a “performative gardening” project in Wellington
which draws attention to urban ecologies and sustainable food production. A series
of mobile gardens perform a choreographed dance through the central city, while
greening the urban space with fruiting plants and scented herbs. Sited near once
productive Maori Pa gardens, the movable plots remember the past through plantings
of fruiting cabbage trees and heritage kumara, and reference successive waves of
immigrants who brought their food cultures with them parceled in seed form.
Jan Loggie and Nick Preval of the NZCSC reviewed the renewable energy
strategies and developments of cities in New Zealand. A prime example is the use
of landfill gas for heating a swimming and sports complex and council buildings in
Chris Freear, an Energy Engineer, described a project he spearheaded to reclaim
125 km of disused railway right of way into a recreational bike trail. The project
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brought people together and has provided a valuable asset for Christchurch. The trail
also connects towns together in new accessible ways that provide new ideas about
transportation infrastructure.
Martin Lehmkoester, a graduate student at Otago University, gave an overview
of his research into how people understand and take action around climate change.
He gave examples from a case study of Waitati Transition Town near Dunedin. He
found that there is a discrepancy between what people understand bout the science
and what actions they take based on that evidence. The Waitati people tended to
believe that policy and technology alone could not address the issue. People were
motivated by climate change to set up new local economies, social networks and
community education groups around gardening, ride sharing, food preservation and
other aspects of every day life. Martin’s research found that the “wake up call” of
climate change fitted with the community ideas of social justice, obligations to the
natural world, responsibility to future generations and the moral obligation to live
within their means. Most of the ideas and initiative currently associated with the
Transition Town were already in existence before of the Transition Town movement.
Tim Bishop reported on the Sustainable Habitat Challenge (SHaC), which took
place across the country over the past two years. Universities and polytechnic institutes
formed teams to design and build sustainable houses. There was a competition
element to the project, but the outcome was a day-long conference where all of the
teams shared their ideas and discussed their houses with enthusiasm and a sense of
common purpose.
The changing face of the market
Dr. Jody Beck and Meaghan Pierce-Delaney of Lincoln University reported on
alternate models of food production and delivery that do not have the negative
impacts typical of modern industrial systems, and are not limited to a higher income
demographic. Alternative models can be related to three different scales; home
gardening, community gardening and community supported agriculture. Examples
of each of these are now found in many places in New Zealand. Three such models
are the Koanga Gardens seed company, which produces organically grown heritage
seeds specifically for the New Zealand climate, community gardens in Christchurch,
and a CSA in Wellington, Simply Good Food. By shortening the distance between
production and consumption, these models of food delivery provide high quality
food at lower costs and with far less environmental damage.
Dr. Steve Earnshaw, a regional councillor and orthopaedic surgeon, reported on
the Timaru Farmers Market (TFM) where local farmers, growers and producers
sell direct to the community. The market is also a community focal point for ideas,
dialogue and activities supporting sustainable living. It is a project of Transition Timaru
that was born out of think-tank discussions around local sustainability. TFM having
attracts 85 different producers over and up to 1500 customers daily during peak
season. TFM has also survived its first winter, increasing confidence for producers
to invest in expanding their produce quantity and range. Price comparisons during
December 2009 revealed staple product prices that were comparable to supermarkets.
Stallholders have also begun sourcing products within the market. A community stall
lets people sell excess fruit or vegetables from their home gardens, and has a jar
bank, harvest group, and workshops on bread-making and cheese-making which are
consistently sold-out. TFM is providing the Timaru district with enormous social,
economic and environmental benefits and has many exciting plans and events for the
upcoming year to ensure that the market continues to grow.
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Working with Earth’s natural systems
Karen Schumacher reported on how the catch cry “saving kiwi in Taranaki” has
brought tiny rural communities together. The iconic New Zealand kiwi is highly
endangered due to habitat loss and predation by introduced species. In rural Taranaki
in 2004, Bob and Karen Schumacher discovered they had kiwi on their 197 hectare
property. Rather than watch their kiwi become quietly extinct they began trapping
introduced predators and protecting the remnants of native bush on their property.
Neighbours began to ask after “their” kiwi. A little more than a year later a public
meeting at the local community hall resulted in a commitment to increase the size
of the protected area, and before long the neighbouring community also wanted to
join the project and save their kiwi. People became aware of the need to look after
the bush “for the kiwi”, and to consider wider issues before they cleared land. The
project is now more about landscape ecosystem management rather than a single
species management. The communities are driving the change rather than it being a
regulatory approach, and the fieldwork and planning is done by locals.
Professor Steve Wratten, a keynote presenter from Lincoln University, reported on
economic and ecological success of biodiversity in agriculture. The right biodiversity,
in the right place and at the right time can manage pests and diseases at least as well
as industrial chemical and mechanical approaches, at lower cost and with ancillary
benefits. Deployment needs to be based on sound ecological research and the farming
community needs to be involved from the beginning. Positive results from this area of
work have been recently generated in pastoral and viticultural landscapes.
Dr. Hugh Thorpe, a member of ESR, reported on the development of a multi-
valued approach to asset management in Christchurch City’s drainage system that
considers landscape, ecology, recreation, culture, and heritage. In pre-European times
the area where the city is located was swampy and the colonists made early efforts to
drain the land. The city and riparian areas were extensively altered with introduced
vegetation replacing native species and channelisation of the smaller waterways.
In the last 12 years the city authorities have developed an asset management plan
which broadens the concept of urban river management beyond the purely utilitarian
drainage function.
Confronting the growth paradigm
Roger Sutton, CEO of Orion Energy, reported on a range of demand side projects
that have been implemented over the last 15 years. The peak demand on Orion’s
network has hardly grown while the rest of the country has experienced peak growth
of between 2% and 3% per annum. Demand side management has focused on
industrial customers and has relied primarily on price signals so far.
John Warren of the Canadian Institute reported on a process he uses called carbon
mapping. Land use, transportation and energy mapping, has emerged as a powerful
approach for helping communities and energy utilities move towards addressing
energy efficiency and GHG reduction targets. The mapping approach is directed at
establishing a common platform that allows planners and engineers from all sectors
to actively discuss, analyze and modify the multitude of decisions that impact a
communities’ energy profile. The results allowed communities to plan from a future
vision of energy use and emissions and back cast to ensure that energy, land and
transportation planning are integrated so as to achieve the vision.
Rob Bishop, an Energy Management Engineer, reported on a successful project
to increase the energy efficiency of an existing building and significantly reduce
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energy demand. The project was initiated in 1999 by Chris Ward who recorded the
energy use of the building, diagnosed problems, and devised new fit-outs including
flooring and lighting upgrades to drive down energy use by about 20%. In 2007 a
professional energy audit company was contracted that reported significant possible
savings with improvements to the existing HVAC system’s operation with no capital
cost, and offered a guaranteed savings contract to implement and verify these
improvements. The first phase in 2008-09 saw the temperature set-points shifted,
minimum outside air amounts reduced, and the water-heating schedule changed,
resulting in a 22% reduction in building energy use, while improving the comfort in
the building to the best ever recorded. Verified energy savings were $60,000/yr, at a
cost of $60,000. Energy use per square metre is now about 40% below the Property
Council benchmark. Carbon emissions were reduced by 224 t/y of CO2. In 2009-10,
the monitoring and verification continued, and showed that the savings persisted, but
that the background load of the building was creeping upward, mostly due to higher
occupant and equipment density. In 2010-2011, a second phase of improvements is
about to begin, which is estimated to save another 20%, again at about a one-year
Stephen Drew, an energy engineer with Energy Response Ltd., reported on
interruptible load (IL) as a form of peak demand management that can improve
grid security without having to increase generation and distribution capacity. Energy
Response is the leading aggregator in the New Zealand market and in 2010 introduced
new smart grid technology to bring mid-sized industrial and commercial loads into
the IL market for the first time. These loads include refrigeration in meat plants, cold
stores, water pumping, effluent treatment and many other industrial operations that
can be easily shutdown for a short period during peak demand times without affecting
operations, health or safety. The current scale of IL is on par with New Zealand’s
largest wind farm at 100MW. This is just the start in the company’s roadmap towards
a more robust grid that can balance a much wider range of renewable generation with
export industries taking advantage of this generation to lower carbon footprints.
Changing waste to wealth
Keynote speaker, Warren Snow, reported on the success of small communities who
take an ‘economic development approach’ to reducing waste costs and volumes. In the
1990s a small group in Kaitaia decided to do something about the economic decline
of their community resulting from the 1984 government reforms. They formed the
Community Business and Environment Centre (CBEC) and won a contract from
the Far North District Council to operate the local transfer station as a recycling
centre. Now 20 years later, CBEC runs a range of businesses throughout Northland
employing over 70 full time staff with annual revenues of over $6 million NZD, and
the area now recycles 75% of their commercial and residential waste. Profits that
would otherwise have gone to large out-of-town waste companies have instead been
recycled back into the local economy. The key lesson from the Kaitaia model is that
the waste crisis is first and foremost a social problem – one that technicians alone
cannot solve. The second lesson is that if the community can get its hands into the
waste stream it can achieve significantly better results than large waste companies
who are focused more on profit generation than waste reduction.
Catherine Irvine reported on a project to minimise waste at the Otago Farmers
Market through inviting and encouraging support and participation from the
community. Approximately 8,000 people visit the market each Saturday. Recently the
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Farmers Market Trust saw an opportunity to walk the talk on environmental issues
through trialling a new waste minimization project.
Karen Upton, CEO of start-up company Envirocomp Solutions Ltd., reported on
new technology and business model for the composting of sanitary waste products.
The project began as a trial to look at composting disposable nappies on a commercial
scale using a prototype compost machine, produced by local engineering company
HotRot Organic Solutions. After a successful demonstration trial, the Huggies
Envirocomp facility opened in August 2009. After one year the unit is operating at
over 60% capacity and an expansion plan is in place to provide additional capacity
to service new contracts with leading hygiene companies and waste service providers.
The business is built around product stewardship and the premise that those who are
involved in the manufacture, sale or use of products should take some responsibility
for how the product is disposed of. The business model has been recognised as
an excellent example of product stewardship bringing together public and private
Be one person – Individual actions and changes
Rhys Taylor reported on the experience of the Sustainable Living Programme aimed
at household level education to provide knowledge of everyday actions to reduce
environmental impacts compared to previous habits and practices. The programme
uses a social group learning approach of evening classes and accompanying resource
material. Armed with practical know how, learners are encouraged to take immediate
action where they are able, discuss progress at weekly sessions and plan significant
actions for the future, such as house size and location changes, appliance and
insulation purchases, or travel planning.
Dr. Steven Muir, a biomedical researcher, reported on his development of a range
of bike trailers for load carrying. Prior to the project Steven used his bike for most
transport around Christchurch, except when there was a significant load to carry, in
which case he would take his car. Steven made his own bike trailer originally from
recycled materials for a cost of around $10 and used it to do all the load carrying
activities. Using the car for load carrying now happens approximately 8 times a year
rather than 100 times a year. Steven now produces low cost kitset bike trailers made
from new aluminium in a variety of sizes, and loans them out for a month for free to
encourage others to discover the benefits of bike trailers.
Paul Kennett reported on a personal project to examine his family’s emissions and
reduce their carbon footprint down to 1 tonne CO2-e per annum. In 2004 Paul and
his partner Michelle bought their first home and learnt about Peak Oil. Since then
his projects have included car-sharing, downsizing, installing insulation, installing
solar hot water and solar electricity, experimenting with different double glazing
options, improvements to drafts, curtains and pelmets, and 4000 litres of rainwater
collection system for garden use. Paul has monitored monthly electricity use and
carbon emissions and shows convincingly that living happily on a carbon budget of 1
tonne CO2-e per year has indeed been achieved.
Social Business
Leanne Pelabon and Elizabeth Woodford reported on Mana Recovery, a vocational
rehabilitation programme for people with mental health needs, and its subsequent
evolution into a business model. Since its start-up in 1996, Mana Recovery has
supported people to move beyond the rehabilitation programmes and into paid
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employment, using a resource recovery operation. Mana Recovery partnered
with Porirua City Council and established Trash Palace – a resource recovery and
education village. Today up to 100 people per day participate in a variety of training
programmes and Mana Recovery now employs more than 25 people with mental
health needs in full or part time positions within the organisation. Last year over 600
tonnes of materials were diverted from the landfill to be either reused or recycled.
There is also a community recycling collection service that currently diverts over 100
tonnes of recyclable materials from the landfill. Providing meaningful community
services through business initiatives that increase employment opportunities for
employees and also benefit our environment is a recipe of success for Mana Recovery,
with the partnering and support of the local council, businesses and community being
other important aspects.
Peter Mann reported on the Yealands Winery journey towards sustainability in
both an agricultural and a business context. A sustainability focus driven by the
owner brought about significant change. Examples of projects include use of solar
panels to provide hot water for estate amenities, an insulated indoor tank hall to
reduce refrigeration costs, use of heat recovery from refrigeration to heat hot water
for the winery, use of heat recovery from an oil cooler to warm glycol for tanks,
insulating pipelines to reduce heat loss, and use of electricity at night to reducing
peak demands. Future projects include CO2 harvesting, use of vine prunings to
generate hot water and refrigeration, a methane project and a wind turbine project.
The Yealands experience with sustainability is about using technology and innovation
and about doing more for less. But it is primarily about company culture, continual
improvement and recognising that there is no finishing post.
Professor Arthur Williamson, the founder of Thermocell Ltd., a solar hot water
system manufacturer, reported on recent progress in solar water heating technology.
The greatest challenge for deploying solar water heating in New Zealand is finding a
sustainable business model, including supply chains, reliability and installation.
Rachel Brown, CEO of the Sustainable Business Network, gave numerous examples
of sustainability being embraced by New Zealand businesses. Social innovators like
Ray Avery in health care and the NZ Housing Federation, with its affordable housing,
were presented. Windndflow and Lanzatec are creating green jobs from renewable
resources. Food Coops focusing on providing to local customers with locally grown,
organic produce is a growing trend.
Jason Penny described how he started his business, Mamachari Bicycles Ltd., to
import used bicycles from Japan in order to provide cheap commuter friendly bicycles
in New Zealand. The project began when Jason and his wife sold their car, and went
to buy a couple of bikes to see if they could still lead normal lives without a car.
They found good commuter bicycles in NZ were all from Europe and prohibitively
expensive, so they decided to import their own used ones. To date they have sold
almost 400 bicycles, each with a basket or carrier. Their business strategy is getting
people, particularly women, to take up cycling by catering to their particular needs,
but also by understanding their needs and concerns.
Robert Chambers and Graeme Mould have brought the craft of North American
solid log homes to New Zealand. Handcrafted log homes are produced by craftsmen
one log at a time, use very little man-made or mined materials, and can last for
hundreds of years. Log homes have very low embodied energy and have thermal
efficiency and comfort exceeding current building standards. The logs are minimally
processed and the trees come from local plantations. On average, processing each log
requires about 2 litres of petrol in the chainsaw and the yard equipment and the logs
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are air-dried. The life-cycle cost of log homes is also extremely low. Log homes are
also healthy to live in since they are composed of natural materials. Logs do not off-
gas formaldehyde or the other volatile organics that are found in processed timber
sheeting and in wall coverings like gib board. In New Zealand, it requires less than
40 years to grow excellent Douglas fir building logs. The original housing stock in
the country is substandard and unhealthy, so a sustainable business for redeveloping
residential housing for the long term is possible.
Andrew Hurley, an engineer at local network power company Mainpower,
described the business philosophy and operations of the community owned company,
which includes keeping costs as affordable as possible. Recently, Mainpower has been
exploring ways to provide electricity and other energy services to their customers by
developing smaller scale local renewable resources. The company has 10 year plan
to provide one third of the power for its 32,000 customers from local renewable
resources including micro-hydro, wind and solar hot water. An example project is
a 900 kW Pelton micro-hydro turbine manufactured in Christchurch that supplies
electricity to the grid from an irrigation development on a farm.
Danusia Wypych of Resene Paints reported on a wide range of initiatives and
projects through out the company to reduce waste and water use, recycle paints,
and provide products in containers which can be used by the customer for many
other uses. The initiatives have produced dramatic sustainability improvements.
However, the most important aspect of the report was the culture change at the
company. Employees are empowered to always look for sustainability improvements
in all areas of the business, and economic cost/benefit analysis of possible projects
is normally not performed as improved sustainability is assumed to provide positive
outcomes for the company.
Karl Check from KiwiRail gave a historical review of the rail system in New
Zealand, current status, and plans for the future. The national rail system was
privatized and suffered lack of investment and degradation of infrastructure and
service. Two years ago the rail system was purchased back by the government in
need of a great deal of TLC. There are new developments in Auckland connecting
up the city with commuter rail, in purchasing new rolling stock and improving and
expanding the tracks.
A thematic analysis of the abstracts and video-taped presentations was undertaken. A
total of 38 signs of change were considered. A discursive data set was generated and
supplemented by recorded semi-structured interviews with some participants and
registrants. The approach assumes that information revealing a theme is embedded
in the accounts of participants as they write and talk about the actions, and that these
are expressed by them in various ways which are open to interpretation by others. In
this approach any subjectivity brought to the subject by the participant themselves is
not removed nor ignored. In the analysis and in presenting some of the information,
the language used to portray the sign of change by the participant was retained.
There were 21 submissions from a community perspective and one from
central government. These were reported by individuals, non-profit organisations,
community groups and educators. Hard sciences, technology or central government
policy were mentioned in only one of these community themed reports. Positive
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contribution or interaction with local government was a feature of 16 of the reports.
There were 16 reports from business and industry, most presented by engineers or
business leaders. Again, central government policy was generally irrelevant to this
business theme, where renewable energy, efficiency, innovation, demand management
and construction techniques were the main focus.
All of the presenters included narratives of sustainability and change, in alignment
with the call for participants presented at the beginning of the article. There were,
however, two different themes in the way change or innovation was reported. The
most consistent delineation was found to involve themes concerning new processes.
In all cases a ‘new processes’ theme might apply to the change reported, but some
also referred to processes by which change was generated, rather than being the
change itself. New change-producing processes are amongst the signs of change
being reported, and we refer to this theme as ‘catalysts of new thinking’. Of the
38 responses, 15 were found to contain direct evidence consistent with this theme.
These include examples across all the major community sectors including the one
government perspective. In descriptive terms these examples include innovative
education programmes, which seek to bring about change by design. Others involve
reports of where a catalyst of change had emerged and been identified as being
particularly effective, such as the example of saving the kiwi. The remaining 23
presentations were not change processes in themselves, or by design, but rather were
the end ‘results of new thinking’. None of the reports in the ‘catalysts of new thinking’
category involved technology and it was the new thinking that was identified as
the key factor. Technology did feature more widely in the ‘results of new thinking’
category, but the presenters did not emphasise the technology to the same extent as
new ideas about efficiency or demand reduction.
Many responses included mention of especially fruitful working relationships as
being critical to the sign of change. In particular, these were often referred to as
being innovative and assessed as being different from the business as usual situation.
This concept was important in at least 17 of the examples. Collaboration was
especially important to signs of change from the community sector where 14 of the
21 responses made reference to it as an important factor. It was less prominent in
responses from business and industry sectors where it was identified as a factor in
only 2 of the 16 examples. The single government perspective also identified new
collaborative processes as a sign of change. Considerable evidence suggests that one
important aspect of developing social business might be the role of collaborative
processes. Perhaps it is the ability of these processes to catalyse changes in ideas to
make progress on complex issues and give consideration to more strategic responses
through collaboration and cooperation that is becoming particularly valuable in
emerging sustainability and social business.
The Signs of Change national networked e-conference highlighting emerging
sustainability and social business was a first in use of technology to reduce negative
impacts while preserving the essential beneficial nature of conferences. The way the
sustainability theme was treated, and the way it was brought forward by presenters
also offers a way forward. Overall, the conference structure and technical design
worked well and were well received by participants. The success of the conference is
best expressed by participants themselves.
I feel very encouraged and hopeful that the grass roots movement has momentum to
move us forward in the face of huge challenges- making a difference.
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Krumdieck & Orchard Signs of Change National Networked e-Conference 57
It was fascinating to be surrounded by like-minded people from a diverse range of
I was very impressed with the variety of speakers and have come away feeling completely
invigorated by what I have heard and seen.
It is really nice to see so many people with such a passion.
It’s been a great get together of people who are kindred spirits, but in terms of their
activity it was so diverse. We have heard a lot of grass roots, local projects, and we are
also hearing people who think the big picture and then walk what they understand in
the parts of their lives that they can in uence. They are thinking beyond the immediate
actions but they are still taking actions.
I don’t think there’s much preaching going on, which is good. There is a lot of discussion
here among people who understand where we’re coming from. We connect with each
other quite quickly and easily. For example you don’t need, in this gathering, to de ne
what are unsustainable actions, because there is a common understanding that our
rate of resource use, our rate of waste, and out lack of connection with natural systems
is the basis for unsustainability.
It may be that those who are attending this event are principally those who have got
their own stories to tell and want to hear other people’s stories, so it’s an exchange.
Dr Susan Krumdieck is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the
University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and director of the Advanced Energy and
Materials System Lab. She earned Bachelors and Masters degrees from Arizona State
University with focus on Control Systems and Energy Systems Engineering. Her first
PhD project was in biofuel combustion characterisation. She earned her PhD from
the University of Colorado at Boulder in advanced materials for thin film energy
applications. She is the National President of Engineers for Social Responsibility, was
appointed to the Royal Society of New Zealand Energy Panel in 2005, and heads
the Transition Engineering firm, EAST Research Consultants Ltd. Susan’s research
group works on developing engineering analysis and modelling tools for transition
of transport and power systems to greatly reduced fossil fuel demand.
Corresponding author: Susan Krumdieck, Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Private Bag 4800, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 80401, New Zealand
Shane Orchard M.Sc. is a resource management consultant working with collaborative
and community based aspects of environmental management and policy. He has
completed a BSc and MSc(Hons) at the University of Canterbury, with a focus
on applied biology and environmental sciences. He also holds a PGDip in Maori
Resource and Environmental Management from Massey University. Shane works
on the sustainable management of natural resources through the development of
ecological engineering and strategic planning solutions. He works with several
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community groups and projects in the sustainability field in Canterbury, and also
convenes the Catchment & Coastal issues group for the Environment & Conservation
Organisations of New Zealand.
Shane Orchard, Resource Consultants Ltd. 15 Kinross Street, Christchurch 8042,
New Zealand
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... Already almost a decade ago, a multi-hub conference (i.e., talks/audience distributed among different locations) paved the way for low-carbon conferencing strategies (Krumdieck and Orchard, 2011). ...
... It is difficult to replicate this type of interaction with current video conferencing technologies and platforms, although some emerging technologies such as the "Shindig" app are intending to do just that. Likewise, academics have experimented with innovative "e-conference" formats that seek to foster serendipitous interactions (Krumdieck and Orchard, 2011). ...
Purpose Air travel is becoming increasingly recognized as a source of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. This is particularly relevant for the university sector, which relies heavily on staff air travel for domestic and international mobility. Design/methodology/approach Using a qualitative content and textual analysis of Australian university sustainability policies, documents and Web pages, this paper discusses the extent to which these organizations take the task of reducing emissions from flying seriously. Findings Universities fall into one of three groups in this regard. “Air Travel Ignorers” are organizations that either have no sustainability policy or none that recognize air travel as a source of greenhouse gas emissions. The second group – “Recognition without Intervention” – describes universities that do acknowledge the role of air travel in their carbon footprint, but do not propose any means to reduce the amount of flying they do. Third, “Air Travel Substituters” seek to substitute their air travel with a digital form of mobility, usually video conferencing. Research limitations/implications The authors then highlight the need to decrease and denormalize university air travel through shifting shared expectations of mobility for events such as conferences and meetings. Practical implications By way of a conclusion, the authors discuss the nature of air travel for Australian academia and the relationship between various forms of mobility, connectedness and co-presence. Originality/value This is the first comprehensive analysis of Australian university sustainability policies with respect to air travel.
This article reports on the 'Virtual International Day of the Midwife E-vent', an innovative initiative that uses social media to provide opportunities for learning and networking internationally. This e-vent was conceived of and initiated in 2009 by a small group of midwives with an interest in social media. The e-vent uses web conferencing software and schedules a presentation every hour for a 24-h period so as to reach midwives or other interested parties in all time zones of the globe. The authors draw on their experiences to describe the e-vent including the e-vent aims and organizing processes, and to report on participation trends over the 3-year period. The e-vent has seen significant growth over a 3-year period with participation increasing from an average of five participants per session to 50. The organizing committee has expanded to include an international team and they have extended the reach of the project by establishing a Facebook page. While the use of social media has its limitations, projects such as the International Day of the Midwife E-vent have real potential to increase access to educational materials and provide opportunities for international networking.
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