Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Chamber Board Nominations Now Open

We are rapidly approaching another  AGM scheduled for October 12 2016.

Prior to that we  are required to hold elections for our Board.

The Board consists of 12 Directors, each serving a two year term. There are six positions available this election. Candidates must be existing members of The Chamber and adhere to the nomination process as specified in our constitution.

Nominations must be received no later than Friday 19 August 2016. Electronic voting commences in September and closes 5.00pm Tuesday 11 October.

The Chamber Elections are always hotly contested, which shows that our democratic processes are alive and well.

I would encourage members to consider being nominated. Being a Board member is a rewarding but not too demanding experience.

Being involved with The Chamber at Board level is an excellent way to be introduced to governance roles and to assist The Chamber to determine its policies and strategic direction

We look forward to receiving nominations - if you would like further information please don’t hesitate to contact me on 03 366 5096 or email

Full details and nomination forms are available on our website here.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Heading home

On 22 July the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) arrives home at last. We move back to 57 Kilmore Street where the Chamber was based for close to 30 years before the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

For the first time in 157 years the Chamber will be based in a purpose built and dedicated new building which has been designed specifically to meet its needs with a range of meeting rooms, high quality open plan office space and supporting facilities. From its beginnings in Lyttelton in 1859, through a variety of locations in Lyttelton and Christchurch city the Chamber now has a real home of its own and paradoxically this is because of the tragedy and destruction of the earthquakes.

It is a story worth telling because it is a story that will be common to so many people who are transitioning back into the central city five tumultuous years after approximately 1,100 commercial buildings were destroyed or irreparably damaged. The Chamber building survived the September 2010 earthquake but was rendered un-occupiable in February 2011. Ironically there was a health and safety seminar being conducted at the time. No-one was hurt but the building was damaged beyond repair. The Chamber then relocated to my residence for six months before relocating to the Westpac Business Hub at Addington and then to Colombo Street. After a five year journey we return home.

The journey was not without its difficulties. We had a prolonged negotiation with our insurance company (as did many other businesses) and we had significant disruption with regards to our temporary relocations. But we always remained “a safe pair of hands” for the business community. As a part of that we worked very closely with the Canterbury Development Corporation (who also lost their building) in the delivery of business support services through Recover Canterbury. Recover Canterbury was a very positive and constructive joint venture that assisted thousands of businesses post-earthquake.

We eventually cash settled with our insurance company and about a year ago set about finalising plans for the rebuild at Kilmore Street. We were confronted with rigorous consenting processes. We had issues with poor substrate and some contamination on our site (which for many years hosted a dry-cleaning company) but we moved through the difficulties. Through the good support of project managers, architects, builders and a plethora of tradespeople we have ended up with an elegant statement in the central city.

Our new building is designed to be accessible, it is energy efficient and has been specifically built to operate as a functional base for the Chamber now and into the future. It will be a well-used facility with a core staff of 30 who on a good day can process in excess of 100 sets of export documentation and host several membership training programmes and events concurrently. The Chamber conducts over 200 training and development programmes and events each year and many of those will now be delivered from the home base. The Chamber building will be host to thousands of visitors annually who we know will enjoy our new offering.

Returning to a permanent base will allow us the luxury of thinking more strategically about the role we will play in supporting employers across Canterbury in a volatile and rapidly changing environment. It is now all about making the most of the opportunities that are ahead of us.
After a long and torturous pathway, like so many other businesses coming into the central city, it is
great to be heading home.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Energy Efficient Christchurch

One of the really interesting and beneficial side effects of rebuilding our city is that we will be tracking towards energy efficiency in a way that was unprecedented before the earthquakes.

In the commercial sector the new buildings that are being built all over our city and in particular in our central city are being built to new building standards which incorporate much improved insulation, double glazed windows, the use of heat sinks, heat pumps and a general appreciation for the need to build in an energy efficient way.

Some buildings are deliberately being built green, others will be green just because they are built to modern building standards. That will change the energy profile of the commercial buildings in our city to the better.

In our household sector there are approximately 25,000 homes that have an excess of $100,000 of damage that will be rebuilt or repaired. Of those, 10,000 will be rebuilds and of that total almost 20,000 will be cash settled, private controlled repairs or rebuilds. In the process of rebuilding or radically repairing houses they will be subject to the new building code and will incorporate high standards of insulation and other designs to promote and enhance energy efficiency. There are examples in this city already where new builds of approximately the same area of the house they are replacing and have reduced the energy consumption by 60-70%. The most important component in this is insulation. Well insulated houses are warm, energy efficient houses and a direct investment in family health and financial wellbeing.

However, there is a significant proportion of our community who are still seriously disadvantaged with regard to ensuring their houses are warm and safe and that they have insulation of a standard required to deliver reduction in heating costs and health benefits to the household.

It is important as we begin to demonstrate, in the context of the rebuild, an evolution towards one of the most energy efficient cities in Australasia that we take care of those people who need help in this context.

One of the agencies that has been material in improving the insulation in Canterbury is the Community Energy Action Charitable Trust (CEA). CEA has been operating in Canterbury for 22 years and has insulated over 20,000 homes. It can provide subsidies to low income households to create warmer, drier and healthier homes. With highly trained and experienced assessors and installers it not only provides subsidised assistance but also offers a professional non-subsidised insulation install service. This is a worthy cause which has demonstrable benefits.

There is a direct correlation between warm homes and reduced absenteeism from school and businesses due to sickness. Recently released findings from the Healthy Home programme, that CEA was involved in, which provided insulation and/or heating to 900 high health needs hospital patients within Canterbury, showed a nearly 30% reduction in hospital bed days for those patients who were assisted, which in turn saved the Canterbury District Health Board nearly $1 million in the first year. It irrefutably showed that investing in insulation is investing in improved health and wellbeing.

The difference insulation makes to a home is something that most of us do not think about when building or renovating but the results can be dramatic. Insulation provides heat retention while reducing the amount you need to spend to heat your home to keep it at a healthy temperature. Having an energy efficient heat source is also important. Homes that leak heat, leak money.

At the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce we believe that insulating homes and commercial buildings is investing in our future. We want Christchurch to be recognised as one of the most energy efficient communities in the southern hemisphere and we encourage people who can afford to insulate their homes to do so. People who cannot afford to insulate should seek help from organisations such as the CEA.  It really does make a difference.