Described as “An exemplar application of technology to achieve zero energy”, Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat is a true living marvel, and we say “living” for a reason. The camp is New Zealand’s first Net Zero Energy accommodation and is designed to the Living Building Principles challenge. The winner of multiple, prestigious awards such as Time Magazine’s “The World’s Greatest Places of 2019” and New Zealand Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s “Sustainability Innovation Award 2019”, Camp Glenorchy is a testament to the innovative spirit of all who played a part in bringing the project to life.
Optum Plumbing and Energy Solutions was engaged to complete all plumbing, draining, heating and solar work, for Camp Glenorchy. In accordance with the Living Building Challenge – one of the most challenging certifications to achieve in the area of environmental building design – the goal for Camp Glenorchy was to use 50% less water and 50% less energy than standard accommodation facilities worldwide. The plumbing requirements were highly specialised, and when Optum Plumbing shouldered the enormous task of installing all plumbing, drainage, solar and heating for the campsite, the outstanding result of their efforts earned them the 2018 Project of the Year award at the New Zealand Plumbing Awards.
Local operator, Optum was a natural choice to implement designer, Steve Jarvis, of HDS,’ vision for the infrastructure. Being leaders in sustainable energy solutions in the region, Optum had a high level of experience with all renewable systems involved. The project required a working-knowledge of a wide variety of systems including solar hot water, ground-source heating, wastewater, photovoltaic solar, rain water-harvesting and water treatment and filtration, and Optum Managing Director, Kevin Henderson, is extremely proud of the role his team played in the establishment of this world-renowned campsite.
“The layout and design had to be strictly adhered to, as every litre of water, flow rate, pipe diameter, every pump, every watt of power, everything had to be accounted for, to maintain the Living Building Challenge Approach that our clients wanted.”
Alongside the elaborate design, one of the biggest challenges Optum faced was the sourcing of components from as far away as Europe, and the installation of the system in extreme and adverse weather conditions. Components had to be ordered well in advance to ensure there would be ample time for deliveries to arrive from abroad, while also keeping track of stock sourced in New Zealand. The logistics then had to be meticulously planned so that all components required for a certain installation could be transported the remaining 40km from the closest major town to the remote build location, with everything arriving on time and in order. To add to the logistical challenges, the extreme weather experienced by that part of the country made flexibility and innovation a must when working to conditions.
Optum’s contribution was a keystone of the project success, and a shining example of the capabilities and resourceful attitude of the company. Described by Henderson as “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most companies”, the project stands as the most exciting and compelling case-study a plumbing and energy company could ever demonstrate.