The local business spreading good energy

A local solar energy company is helping Kiwi charities save money and reduce their impact on the environment, by providing them with free solar systems.

Lightforce specialises in installing solar systems in residential and commercial buildings around New Zealand. But they are also on a mission to spread good energy throughout Aotearoa with their Solar For Good project.

Contact Energy wants to profile those who, like Lightforce, are using long-lasting innovation to make New Zealand a better place to live for now and for future generations. Thanks to Contact and the Home Guardians initiative, individuals will be rewarded with $5,000 so they can keep making a measurable difference to our shared home.

Fueled by the belief that harnessing the energy of the sun is not only a surefire way to help New Zealand achieve its 2050 net-zero carbon emissions goal but also has a plethora of other benefits for local communities, Lightforce is determined to help as many Kiwis as possible make the switch to solar. Solar energy isn't just more sustainable than other forms of electricity, including hydroelectricity, but having a solar set-up can also lead to more resilience in the face of rising electricity prices and natural disaster-induced power blackouts.

The local business spreading good energy
Photo credit: Instagram: Lightforce

As part of the Solar For Good project, Lightforce has worked with a range of charities and local organisations, such as Te Whakaroa Tangata, a community outreach charity working with vulnerable families in south Auckland and Northland, the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre, a charity working to rehabilitate our native birdlife, and the Kai Rescue Centre, an organisation diverting food from landfill and redistributing it to families and individuals in need in the Nelson Tasman region.

Joel Bowden, Lightforce's general manager - customers, says the Solar For Good project is an extension of the company's desire to have a positive effect on local communities and "empower a lighter, brighter future".

"The thinking is that if there's money that's not being spent on electricity through the solar being installed, then there's more that can go towards helping people in the community," says Bowden.

Since the company's first community project in 2020, when it teamed up with Te Whakaroa Tangata in south Auckland, Bowden says the team has felt a strong connection with the organisations they have worked with, and in many cases the relationships have remained ongoing.

In the case of Te Whakaroa Tangata, employees from Lightforce continue to connect with the organisation three years on from the initial solar installation, donating items that can be used for schooling and education, as well as food hampers at Christmas.

The local business spreading good energy
Photo credit: Instagram: Lightforce

The company also donated a solar installation via UNICEF following the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano in Tonga and a $30,000 solar array to Edible Canterbury, an organisation that aims to support local communities throughout the greater Christchurch area to grow projects that increase food resilience.

Getting involved with valuable community projects is a key philosophy for the company, says Bowden, who believes that it's important for a company like theirs to lead by example. The community work also "goes a long way to building a good culture" at the company, he says, with staff given an additional two days' paid leave each year to use for volunteer work.

"We fundamentally want to provide a positive impact in all the communities that we work with," he says.

In addition to its work gifting solar systems, the company is also intent on educating future generations of Kiwis to connect with nature and have a lighter carbon footprint. As part of that vision, they have partnered with Kelmarna Gardens in Auckland to teach primary school children about regenerative gardening.

"While that's not directly solar-related, it kind of just ties into our general philosophy of caring for the environment," says Bowden. "Knowing that if you look after it well, you get a lot back from it."

Article created in partnership with Contact Energy.