The government believes far too much heat in industrial premises disappears up chimneys and is completely wasted.
The comments come in the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy 2017-2022 (PDF, 816KB).
They refer to so-called industrial heat, which provides energy for factories, meat and dairy processors, schools, universities, offices and hospitals.
It comes in the form of steam, hot water or hot gases, with 60 percent produced from burning fossil fuels, mainly coal and gas.
Industrial heat makes up one third of New Zealand's overall energy use and 9 percent of gross greenhouse gas emissions, but the strategy document says it is not being managed well enough.
The new strategy calls for the use of industry to become at least 1 percent more efficient each year from now until 2022.
To meet that target, there would have to be 1 percent lower emissions per unit of energy created every year.
One way to do this would be to recover more heat from boiler flue gases, rather than letting it be discharged into atmosphere.
There could also be more use of biomass as a fuel and further use of heat pump technology to produce energy with lower emissions.
All this would also save companies and public sector organisation money.
Besides industrial heat, the strategy looked at transport, and wanted electric vehicles to be two percent of the vehicle fleet by 2021.
It said they produced 80 percent fewer emissions than a petrol vehicle when used in New Zealand.
Where internal combustion engines were used, they should be upgraded to more efficient versions.
Freight volumes were forecast to rise by 48 percent between 2014 and 2042, so greater efficiency was essential.
The strategy also called for environmental improvements in electricity, although it conceded a lot of improvements had already been made.