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Working from home once a week could save NZ over 84k tonnes of carbon emissions - official

If enough New Zealanders continued to work from home on a regular basis, the country could save the same amount of carbon emissions as taking 35,000 cars off the road, according to Te Tari Tiaki Pūngao, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

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Te Tari Tiaki Pūngao, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority CEO Andrew Caseley spoke to Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

The government agency also found that if one-fifth of those who usually travel to work by car instead chose to work at home at least one day a week, New Zealand could avoid 84,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Chief executive Andrew Caseley says the country had an opportunity to experience life working from home "cold turkey" during lockdown, and there could be lessons to learn.

"The reality is a lot of people have to commute to work and therefore if they can peel that back a bit... there are considerable benefits both for them, in terms of their lifestyle and also the amount of energy you use, and the consequential amount of emissions that are created," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"We believe people want to do it, they got used to it, and it's a viable, sensible thing to do in many instances."

While there are some businesses that wouldn't work, such as factory production lines, Mr Caseley says offices should be considering flexible alternatives with working from home.

But he acknowledges there is a balance to be struck.

"I believe out the back end of Covid that will allow [flexibility] even more while keeping a balance between what people want around having the collegiality of an office and also the culture that's developed, but also the recognised gains you can get when you work from home."

The EECA is launching a new campaign aiming to encourage people to work from home where they can.

Mr Caseley says it'll help people save money as well as reduce emissions.

"I think the biggest benefit that we've had is that just about everybody's tried it, on a compulsory basis," he says.

"And they know what it's like, they know what the advantages are. We've got much less of a challenge to convince people about how viable and beneficial it is."