Find out what we are doing to make sure Council operates sustainably, how we measure our progress and read about some of our successes.

Committed to sustainable operations

Christchurch City Council is recognised, both in New Zealand and overseas, as a local authority committed to sustainable operations. We can all be proud of what our city has achieved in recent years and our commitment to our 'clean and green' future.

We are the only non-European member of Energy Cities(external link) and the first local authority to adopt a comprehensive energy action plan in New Zealand.

Our vision for Christchurch is that our energy supplies come from renewable sources and the city’s energy systems are affordable, efficient and secure, ensuring long term sustainability and net zero impact on climate, local environment and public health.

  • 50% of all energy consumed by the Council's operations now comes from local renewable energy sources

How we report our progress

A vital part of the sustainability journey is measuring our progress to better manage our impacts and to celebrate our successes. Rather than having a separate sustainability report, the Council will include sustainability indicators:


Some of our successes

The Council is proud that it has kept the costs of energy (in dollars per household) at the same level as they were in 1992. Great initiatives and NZ-leading projects, including using biogas from landfill, have reduced power use and power costs.

Our commitment to energy efficiency and innovations have won widespread recognition; our goal is to exercise leadership in energy efficiency.

Alternatives to fossil fuels

We've replaced the traditional fuel (mineral or diesel oil) for many of our boilers with cooking oil, mainly from fast food shops. Benefits were:

  • replacing a fossil fuel with a renewable resource
  • reducing transportation costs by using a locally re-cycled fuel source
  • lower sulphur emissions
  • the calorific value of vegetable oil is similar to that of mineral oil
  • vegetable oil is carbon neutral.

Council's bicycle fleet

We have introduced bikes to our vehicle fleet. These are great for short journeys and take away the problem of parking at your destination. The benefits of the project include:

  • A reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
  • An increase in awareness of sustainable actions in the 1000+ staff at the Civic Offices, and the wider community.
  • An increase in health and well-being in Council staff.
  • A reduction in the number of cars required by the City Council.

Energy efficient appliances

Switching off appliances like computers and monitors at night and at weekends is a great way to make significant cost savings. Council could save enough to supply electricity to a medium-sized household for at least six months simply be shutting down computers and monitors when they are not needed.

Capture and re-use heat

Graham Condon Recreation Centre poolIn partnership with nearby businesses, Council is recycling heat that is a waste product at one site and using it as energy for heating at another. Facilities like the Graham Cordon Recreation Centre are heated by tapping into excess heat that nearby business are needing to get rid of, in this case the refrigeration units at the neighbouring Northlands shopping centre. The heat is transferred from the source location using a closed-loop water system.

Energy-efficient lighting

selection of different traffic light signalsIn Christchurch we have over 240 intersections with sets of traffic lights. Each set of lights has, on average, 34 bulbs, with at least half of these bulbs being on at any one time. That is over 4000 light bulbs that we have turned on, all the time. The traditional incandescent bulbs were 67 watts. These were replaced with 35 watt quartz halogen bulbs. This reduced our power consumption by 48%. As our traffic lights need replacing, we are moving to LED fittings, with 5 watt bulbs. This will reduce our original power consumption by 93%. LED bulbs have a longer life so the cost of maintaining our traffic lights will also reduce.

Ground source heat pumps

The ground remains at a relatively constant temperature all year round and this temperature can be used as a heat or cooling source. Ground source heat pumps are well suited to applications where large amounts of energy are required to heat water and/or air such as in swimming pools and recreation centres. We have installed them in the following locations:

  • Centennial Pool
  • The Christchurch Town Hall
  • Jellie Park Recreation Centre
  • Pioneer Pool
  • Waltham Pool
  • Belfast Pool.

The benefits of this approach include:

  • A substantial reduction in electricity use and thus in costs.
  • The system uses a renewable heat source.
  • The process is carbon neutral because Council uses a carbon neutral electricity source.
  • The heat source is at a constant temperature, which means that heat pumps operate at maximum efficiency.
  • The technology is quiet and clean.

Using the wind

wind turnbine installed at Gebbies PassA wind turbine at Gebbies Pass is used to generate power for the Council offices in Hereford Street. The benefits from this project include:

  • Using a renewable energy source means no carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Support of local business (Windflow Technologies who supplied the turbine are based in Christchurch).
  • Job creation in the Christchurch area.
  • Support of innovation suited to local wind conditions.
  • The land is still available to farming, particularly livestock, as the turbines take up little space.
  • The technology is clean and eco-friendly.

Insulate to stay warm

Council hopes that by leading by example and insulating it's residential units, that other landlords in the city will take similar action:

  • thermal insulation in the ceiling
  • thermal insulation under the floors
  • hot water cylinder blankets
  • weather stripping doors and windows
  • a compact fluorescent lamp in each flat.

Our tenants have seen improvements:

  • their homes are warmer
  • their heating bills are lower
  • improved health, especially for elderly and those with health conditions

Using solar energy

Council has installed solar hot water panels in some of the elderly persons flats it owns. These provide at least half of the hot water needed by the residents each year. This is over $400 in savings on their power bills.

Using water wisely

South Library against a blue sky with light cloud coverWe did some pretty smart things with water when we developed the South Library facility.

  • The gardens surrounding the building include drainage swales and retention ponds to slow storm water run off and to aid in the filtering of pollutants such as petrol and diesel from the car parks before reaching the river.
  • Water in the moat around the building is used to cool and humidify the air entering the building. Natural air flow is used where warm air rises out of the building through high windows, thus drawing fresh air into the building over the water in the moat.
  • Used low-use plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption and rain water for flushing.