News from the UC Sustainability Office

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2017 Sustainability Awards Ceremony

The 2017 Sustainability Awards kicked off yesterday, providing us with a chance to share the achievements of our campus sustainability heroes! Thank you to those who came along and celebrated excellence in sustainability amongst our university community. These awards recognise student and staff efforts to improve the world around us, and make UC more sustainable. It is a truly special occasion when we can all gather together in one place and share our stories, and have a chance to celebrate the incredible work that is being done on campus, and beyond.


A huge thank you to our awesome sponsors – we couldn’t do it without your support!

Holding these awards are incredibly  important because not only does it recognise people for work that often otherwise goes unnoticed, but it also raises the profile of sustainability activities in our community and demonstrates just how much of this great work is happening here. This can be through research projects, community initiatives, departmental resource efficiency leadership, or anything else that demonstrates a willingness and ability to make our place just that bit greener… and for that, we thank you! 

A massive congratulations to all those nominated in this years Sustainability Awards – you should all be truly proud of the work you have achieved, and the changes that you have made. We are lucky to have you!


So, lets kick off with a brief run down of this years winners – and the prizes from our awesome sponsors!

SILVER – STAFF (General) 

Mark Homewood, RRSIC Stormwater Treatment

Academic staff from the Sciences and Engineering departments had a lot of input into the design work for the new RRSIC building, and one of the stand our results from this process is ideas around how stormwater is treated before being discharged into the Okeover / Waiutuutu stream. Projects of this scale are always hugely collaborative, and Mark wins this Silver Staff award as Project Manager for his work in this project.

This piece of work, which creates a new learning environment for students and staff, builds upon the notion of campus as a Stormwater Research Park and 20 years of stream rehabilitation on campus. Mark and his team have not only created learning opportunities on campus, but also have become an example of best practice construction regarding urban waterways for the wider Christchurch rebuild.


Jackson White, The Solar Project 

The idea of getting solar panels on campus buildings seemed like a far off dream, and it was unanticipated that this challenge would be answered by a student… But, that is exactly what happened! Jackson made it his business as sustainability champion on the UC exec to get solar panels on a building here on campus, and achieved this within only a couple of months – an extraordinary achievement.  The judges were hugely impressed with this outcome (as we all were), which has now meant an early learning centre is completely solar powered… an incredible achievement not to be taken lightly. Jackson’s dedication to this project, and the impact that his work has had both within and outside of the the university community, deserves to be recognised as something special.

GOLD – STAFF (Academic)


The judging panel was stunned by the nomination for the CAREX project led by Professor Angus McIntosh and Jon Harding. It was noted that this work is of national importance and is complex, current, and critical. The Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment is focussed on improving freshwater sustainability through development and evaluation of restoration solutions for agricultural streams, which as we all know, is surely a massively current issue for Canterbury and NZ at large.

CAREX works with over 20 landowners and farm managers and more than 60 other stakeholders from local government, to NGOs to industry, and their plan is to continue their project and extend their learnings to catchments across the North and South Islands in efforts to address the stressors responsible for declines in freshwater. An incredible initiative that is truly deserving of this award to recognise the hard work, and all that they have achieved.

GOLD – STAFF (General)

Rob Oudshoorn and Engineering Services, Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction Initiatives

The Gold Award for General Staff this year went to Rob Oudshoorn and his team in Engineering Services for their work in quietly retrofitting the campus with literally hundreds of interventions that have collectively begun to drive down our carbon profile. Many of these interventions have been around a range of energy efficiency measures which are already in place, as well as the construction which is currently underway for the new Wellness Precinct, which will be low carbon, heated via a ground source heat pump, and a very significant step in shifting away from non renewables. This award goes to Rob and his team for their commitment to the vision of a low carbon future for the University – huge congratulations to you.


Shell Eco Marathon Team

This group of students, with the help of Bruce Robertson, took on a massive challenge to  put in an entry into the Shell Eco Marathon Design Challenge, which was held in Singapore in March.

As the nominator for this entry explained: “Typically teams focus only on the amount of fuel the vehicles uses, but this team took a wider perspective and explored options for whole product life cycle energy use. The result of this was the design and build of a small car that is the first in the world to be made entirely from recyclable thermoformed plastic sheets. Selection of this material supports reduction in energy consumption at three stages, those being the initial manufacture, service life, and end of life.”  The judges were very impressed by the huge challenge of pulling the project together in a short space of time, and also by the outcome: a working model that could improve sustainability outcomes for transport internationally. An innovative and inspiring entry into this years Awards Ceremony, and very deserving of the Gold Student Award for 2017.


Selva Ganapathy and Joyce Chen, The Fog Water Harvesting Project 

This year’s Fair Trade Diamond Award goes to Selva and Joyce for their extraordinary vision and commitment in solving an urgent problem in many impoverished communities throughout the developing world: access to clean drinking water. They have undertaken social and environmental development work, with a low environmental impact.

Inspired by the Warka Water Tower project, Selva began to explore the possibilities of fog harvesting in Tamilnadu, India. Stories about the farmers’ suicide in the drought-hit regions were the motive behind beginning to research about water conservation and water-related work.

The project is still in the implementation stage in India. They will be presenting their idea at Schneider Electrical’s Go Green in the City 2017 competition global finals in Paris next month.

The judges found this an incredible proposition, and felt it fitting that this year’s Fair Trade Diamond award be given to Selva and Joyce as their work will directly benefit communities in the developing world, and potentially those least able to deal with the coming effects of catastrophic climate change.

And finally… the SUPREME AWARD goes to:

Glynne Mackey, Sustainability and Social Justice 

Glynne Mackey is a lecturer in teacher education, and from 2004 to present day, has been developing courses for early childhood (EC) and primary teachers on sustainability, social justice and ecojustice. From 2004 all EC students have had a compulsory Year 3 course in sustainability and now this is open to primary students. In the sustainability course, students are challenged in their personal attitudes around sustainability and environmental behaviour as well as what this means for the professional teacher.

Students are encouraged to be sustainability leaders in their school or centre and ensure children have opportunities to realise their own competence and agency in making a difference for a better future. The course has evolved, beginning as more of a focus on environmental education in 2004, and as worldwide understandings towards environmental issues have changed, it has become more integrated with understandings of social justice and eco justice.

The judges were acutely aware of the drive, determination and dedication Glynne has demonstrated for well over a decade in this area, which has shaped the face of education for sustainability in Aotearoa. The impact this has had on sustainability literacy amongst our children and young adults is hard to quantify, but undoubtedly huge. With this, the judges agreed that she is worthy of this award, and so much more.


This was a simply fantastic event celebrating the work that is being done both within our University community, and outside of it. At the sustainability office, we are already looking forward to 2018! A huge congratulations to this years winners and nominees from everyone at the Sustainability Office.

Of course, we couldn’t have done this without our awesome and generous sponsors… our sustainability heroes this year went home with their hands full of some epic prizes!



So, a massive shout out to this years 2017 Sustainability Awards sponsors – 

Trade Aid

Alice Cinematheque

The Lotus Heart 


Arahura Greenstone Tours 

Piko Wholefoods 

New Zealand Kiwi Centre

Dux Central

Cassel and Son Brewery

Hokitika Regent Theatre 

The Urban Monk


Karma Cola 

Hokitika Holiday Park


Office Max

Little High Eatery 

Scenic Waterways 

And all the fantastic nominees, and those that nominated our deserving sustainability heroes – we thank you!

See you all next year, for another celebration of all things sustainable here at UC.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us:





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Love Food Hate Waste –

Every year kiwis send 122, 547kg of food to landfill – this is food that could have been eaten, not to mention that which could have been composted. You can test your own food waste here.

One of the participants in this week’s Sustainapalooza  activities was Christchurch City Council’s own Love Food Hate Waste team (seen at Monday’s Eco Market and before the cycle-powered movie on Tuesday). LFHW is a national campaign dedicated to ending food waste in New Zealand through education and action! On their website they offer recipes and tips for using leftovers and minimising food waste.

We talked to Sarah about LFHW and this is what she had to say:

My name is Sarah Pritchett and for most of 2017 I had a contract role at the Christchurch City Council as the Love Food Hate Waste coordinator. I am now at UC in the sustainability office in a casual role, which is kind of full circle for me as my first degree was a BA in psychology from the University of Canterbury. This degree gave me a solid understanding of behaviour change theory which, combined with my passion for environmental sustainability, laid the foundations for my eventual career in environmental behaviour change.

60 councils throughout New Zealand are taking part in the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which was brought to New Zealand from the UK by the Waste Management Institute. I first became aware of this campaign when I travelled to the UK on a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2010 to undertake research into waste minimisation strategies. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign was undoubtedly the highlight of the campaigns I researched so I feel fortunate to have been part of the team delivering this campaign.

So, you may be thinking, how is this campaign relevant to you? The answer is simple: Households with people aged between 16 – 24yrs who are responsible or jointly responsible for food shopping and preparation are among the worst offenders when it comes to wasting edible food. How do we know this? As you will know, any good campaign needs baseline data to ascertain the extent of a problem and the underlying causes of the problem. So before Love Food Hate Waste was launched in NZ Wasteminz undertook research via bin audits, an online survey, food diaries and indepth interviews. And the recent UC waste audit showed a huge amount of food waste is being produced here on campus.

The results? Approximately $872,000 worth of avoidable food waste is thrown out by New Zealand households every year. This averages out to $563 per household. I can think of lots of things I would spend an extra $563 on! That’s the bad news. The good news is that all it takes to reduce your household food waste is a bit of planning and thought.

Here are some simple tips to introduce to your household:
• Plan your meals for 5 out of 7 nights of the week and make a shopping list for these meals.
• Don’t be sucked into 2 for $5 deals! If you only need 1 capsicum you are actually losing $2.50 rather than saving money, especially if that extra capsicum ends up rotting away in a lonely corner of your fridge.
• The University of Otago has just released the results of some research they did on best ways to store vegetables. The general rule seems to be keep vegetables you have started using covered or in airtight containers.
• Keep a “smoothie bag” in the freezer and when you have bananas that no one wants to eat because they are too brown take off the skin, chop them up and place them in the smoothie bag to pop into the blender at a later date. You can also add other types of fruit past their best such as apples, summer fruit, or even wilted carrots.
• Be inventive! I recently discovered (via google) that you can use carrot tops to make a pesto. We combined them with walnuts, parsley (because this grows wild in my neighbourhood), parmesan cheese and olive oil and served it with the roast carrots.

For more tips and loads of recipes go to

If you’d like to get hands on in helping to minimise food waste, Christchurch has two organisations that are always keen for new volunteers: 0800 HUNGRY and City Harvest. You can find their details here.

LFHW and the UCVegSoc handed out tastings of a couple of delicious dishes that you can make with leftover fruit and vegetables  – Love your Leftovers, before the Cycle Cinema at Sustainapalooza on Tuesday prior to the screening of the award winning food waste documentary ‘Just Eat it’.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email is:

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Okeover Community Gardens are 15 and we’re celebrating!

Okeover’s beginnings in 2002

This year, Okeover Community Gardens turns 15. Over this time, the gardens have evolved to the peaceful, enjoyable space they are today.

In 2000, Kākāriki Environment Club first proposed establishing a community garden at UC, and in 2002 a suitable site was found. The gardens were based on permaculture and organic principles, with the idea of opening them up to staff, students and the wider community.

An orchard and annual vegetable garden beds were established, along with a pizza oven used for garden celebrations and events, a herb spiral and perennial vegetable beds.

2015-16 saw a redesign of the original garden beds, with the UC carpenters installing a mandala of macrocarpa raised beds. The previous Garden Coordinator, Jane Aistrope, designed the new set up. They allow for a crop rotation of four different groups of vegetables.

Future plans for the gardens include establishing a food forest in the orchard area – with edible and beneficial plants providing an understorey for the fruit and nut trees.

The gardens exist with the help of our wonderful cast of volunteer gardeners who put in their time at our Friday afternoon working bees. Over the years, we have had hundreds of keen beans weed, plant, compost and sow in the gardens.

To celebrate this landmark date, and the spring equinox (Sept 23), DigSoc will be hosting a gala, with pizza and cake, on Friday 22nd Sept from 3-7pm. Do come along and celebrate with us! Bookings are essential as space is limited; email

Here is a montage of some of the many garden photos from over the years. It has changed such a lot! Click to enlarge the image.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us:








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Donna’s Garden Update: Spring ahead

It’s great to know we’re past the Winter Solstice (June 21) and heading for spring and warmer soil.

Turning the compost

The year has been a busy one so far. Semester 1 began with loads of volunteers attending our Friday afternoon working bees – up to 35 at one session! This meant that we were able to do plenty of planting, harvesting and general sorting of the gardens. Spring cleaning the shed and tidying the back shed were two great achievements.

In June we had a pizza party to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the end of Semester 1. We bid farewell to some of our international gardeners who had helped to make the garden a lovely place to be over the semester.

Our compost area had been rather neglected most of the year, while the garage at the back of one of UC’s properties, directly behind the bins, was being rebuilt. In June our bins were back and we were able to build a compost heap – a great workout for everyone – which heated up very nicely. We’ve just turned it again and it’s breaking down nicely.


In terms of growing, we’ve been harvesting tatsoi, a very attractive leafy green veg, loads of delicious yams, kohlrabi, mini-caulis, garlic, surprise Urenika potatoes – the biggest once was about 15cm long – perpetual spinach and Florence fennel, Jerusalem artichokes and much more. The purple sprouting broccoli is still going strong (I’ve heard that plants can live for up to 5 years is you keep harvesting the florets!). We’ve got enough leeks and parsnips to see us through to the end of winter. The broadbeans we planted back in May are doing well, and we’ve sown some red-flowering ones to add a bit more colour to the gardens. Our garlic went in in May, and is doing well; we’ve got a couple of different types, Prinatour and Southern Softneck, and courtesy of Bridget, one of our volunteers, we’ve got some elephant garlic. The quince tree outdid itself again this year with more than 30kg of fruit which volunteers made into quince paste and jelly.

Some more garden highlights:

  • A garden angel who delivered Welsh tea cakes for afternoon tea
  • Revamping the herb spiral and establishing two herb baths. We’re slowly increasing the number of herbs we have in the gardens and will hopefully manage to keep our lemon verbena seedling going over winter!
  • The procrastabaking of some of our volunteers meant goodies for afternoon tea
  • Pineapple sage tea! A very refreshing and relaxing brew. Luckily we harvested and dried some leaves to see us through until next season
  • The huge puffballs popping up in the orchard – the largest weighed over 2kg!
  • The revival of DigSoc, the student gardening club, thanks to the lovely Ailsa and Alice

Tending the herb bath

In the next month or so, we’ll be working on the hugelkultur bed, planting NZ Cranberries/Chilean guava and creeping fuchsia, generously donated to the gardens by UC Grounds. We’ll also be putting in a selection of other perennial plants, including herbs. We’re coming up to the busy seed sowing and planting time of year, so that will be a big focus for the next few months.

The Gardens are involved in the Poroporo for the Port Hills project, organised by the Port Hill Rangers. The project aims to germinate thousands of poroporo seedlings to help revegetate the Port Hills following February’s fires. Our seedlings are up and hopefully by mid-August we’ll be potting them into recycled coffee cups ready for growing on a bit and then planting out. If you’d like to be involved in this, just let us know.

UC Sustainability will be holding Sustainapalooza in September (18-22nd), a week of sustainability-related events. On Friday the 22nd Sept, DigSoc will be hosting a Spring Equinox Gala at the gardens with pizza and cake. This will also be a celebration of 15 years of Okeover Community Gardens. If you’d like to come along, please book in, as spaces are limited. See the Sustainapalooza page for details.

For other information about the community gardens, check here. For information on becoming a volunteer and attending working bees on Friday (12-4pm), check here. The community gardens also have a dedicated Facebook Page.

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New students: Introducing the UCSustainability Office

img_0464aWelcome to UC! Did you know that UC has a Sustainability Office?

We are an on-campus hub for people interested in creating positive change. We promote sustainable practices (like sustainable transport, re-usable cups); inform (about recycling practices, social or environmental issues) and host events (Eco week, Tiny house tours, etc.).

We work on healthy waterways and bike stands; and currently, together with other parties at UC, we are also guiding UC towards becoming a Fair Trade University. We work closely with the UC Eco Clubs and do  innovative projects, like UC’s compositing coffee cups trial.

We also run the UC Community Gardens (join in with a working bee, Fridays 1-5 pm) and Dr Bike (yes, they will do your small bike repairs for free!).

Stay connected: follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or check out our website.



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Dr Bike is back for 2017!

Olly (L) and Zac (R)

Dr Bike  is back for 2017 and starts on Tuesday the 28th of February! Dr Bike is a free fix-it clinic for basic bike issues available to both staff and students, funded by the Sustainability Office. This service provides basic maintenance and repairs such as punctures repair, tuning brakes and oiling chains.

Olly Ng and Zac Porter are running Dr Bike on Tuesdays, 12-1.30 pm on C Block lawn during term time. For more information, check here.

We are excited that Dr Bike will be using eco-friendly bicycle lubricants, thanks to Christchurch-based company Biomaxa!

If you’re interested in seeing how Dr Bike fits into the bigger picture about planning for cyclists at UC, you might like to look at the draft UC Cycle Plan 2014-2022.

Welcome back to uni and keep an eye out for these guys on Tuesdays!












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UC’s Sustainable Furniture: You might be sitting on Banks Peninsula wool!

 img_3806aWhen we talk about sustainability, it’s often about waste reduction or energy efficiency but not about procurement (how UC buys its goods from external parties). That’s a shame because UC’s procurement of “new” furniture has great sustainability features! We had a chat to Shelley Ranson from UC Procurement.

What does your team do? We provide purchasing and procurement services to the University.  In terms of Sustainability, we want to maximise social and economic benefits, and minimise damage to health and the environment. Often this means giving time to explore possibilities. For instance, by talking openly with supply partners we encourage them to review their existing sustainability initiatives and explore new opportunities. The Furniture Project is a recent example of this. 

The Furniture Project? With the pending completion of several major new buildings, and UC’s ‘normal’ ongoing requirement for new furniture, it wasn’t possible to furnish from existing stock, and a lot of new furniture was required. We selected four preferred supplies and a core catalogue range. During the project a Furniture Policy was written as well.

What sustainable features does the new furniture have? The core range furniture has the following features:

  • Environmental responsible manufacturing: Materials are low emission, sustainably sourced and designed for disassembly at end-of-life
  • Socially responsible manufacturing: Chain of custody for manufacture particularly with regard to working conditions of off-shore labour
  • Durability: E.g. AFRDI* and BIFMA** accreditation. This means the furniture is tough enough to withstand the high wear and tear environment of a university and won’t break or wear out as quickly as standard furniture
  • Ergonomic features: So that workplace health and safety is supported
  • Future reuse or recycling potential: The ability to relocate furniture for continued use around campus by establishing a standard range of furniture
  • Excellent warranty periods: Reducing whole-of-life costs and extending the functional life of the furniture

Developing a transparent supply chain has enabled us to understand the source materials and the location of manufacturing of our core range. Some of the selected products are locally manufactured in New Zealand. One example is the brand of soft seat covering of which the wool is produced from Banks Peninsula sheep!

What inspired the sustainability element in procurement decisions? Procurement meets fortnightly with the Sustainability Office to discuss current img_3808a projects and new initiatives. Through these discussions we have been able to identify potential ways in which UC can increase the use of environmental and socially responsible products and services. Also, Bronwyn Rice (our Procurement Strategist) comes from a background of sustainable procurement and brings her experience with Australian universities to UC.

And the old furniture, what happens to it? A robust disposal guideline is being followed, which means, for instance, that any furniture that can be reused will be stored***. We are also reviewing options for re-covering existing chairs to extend their life cycle. Obsolete items are at times given away or sold to local schools, education charities or UC staff/students. Our furniture storage partner (Allied Pickfords) has several partnerships, including charities, to facilitate this. Obsolete items are broken into component parts for scrap and recycling. Landfill is a last resort for damaged items that cannot be re-used, gifted or recycled in any way.

Finally, what are some of the other sustainable procurement initiatives? One is our collaboration with Futureworks, our Audio-Visual (AV) supplier. At the design stage, they advise on environmentally friendly options for installations (e.g. RMS is a solution that reduces energy consumption by remotely turning off equipment in empty rooms). They also offer environmentally friendly hardware disposal by arranging the delivery of obsolete hardware to recycling organisations. Another exciting collaboration is with our preferred Catering suppliers. They engage in a variety of activities, like supporting local producers where possible, using fair trade products, offering BYO mug options or arranging for food waste to go to farms.

Some other initiatives we are exploring include: Removal of packaging; compostable packaging including coffee cups, plates etc.; paper trial underway through UC print (Chamex) made from renewable and certified Brazilian forests; new cleaning consumable supplier (Advance Clean) who manufactures own range of eco-friendly cleaning products (Advance Nature); new preferred transport provider (Red Bus) are leaders in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.

The University is in a great position to instigate change within supply chains and to support sustainability at a local business level.

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*Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute                            **Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association ***Any furniture requirements should be done via a BEIMS request. More information available here.