News from the UC Sustainability Office


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UC students taking on the Plastic Free July challenge

A group of UC students is so passionate about reducing plastic waste that they are taking on the Plastic Free July challenge. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it! You can do the challenge for a day, a week or the whole month. You can try to refuse all single-use plastic or try ‘just’ the top 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

UC students Juliet, Poppy, Florence, Maddy and Alex are gearing up to refuse all single-use plastic for a month and they’ll be vlogging and intagramming their progress. So keep an eye out for that on Insiders Guide, our Facebook and Instagram. Inspired? Why not get a friend or your flat taking on the challenge too? #ucplasticfreejuly

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

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Do you have a great idea for Eco Week 2017?

Some of the events we ran last year.

In September (18-22) the UC Sustainability Office will host UC Eco Week. This yearly festival of events celebrates and promotes everything to do with sustainability. This is a festival that is partly student-run and we would love your input. Are you passionate about making kombucha and want to hold a workshop? Know a great speaker and want to invite them? Love second hand clothes and want to organise a clothes swap? Saw that amazing thought-provoking movie and would like to screen it?

We are looking for students who have great ideas for sustainability-focused events to hold during Eco Week 2017. If you have the passion, we may be able to help you make it come true!

Write down an outline of your idea and send it to Puck at the UC Sustainability Office (puck.algera@canterbury.ac.nz) before the end of May.

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

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UC Bike Parking Update

The Sustainability Office is currently working on a plan to get 1500 additional bike parks onto campus. This needs to be done as a staged project given that many sites we want to put bike stands in are currently under construction or have hoardings around them. However, we are making progress. For example, we have recently placed an order for an additional 300 bike parks, which should be in place in the next few months. Additionally, parking for 110 bikes is currently becoming available on the north side of Engineering and the Health Centre. Last term we also welcomed back the enclosed bike parking facility on Creyke Rd (for 80 bikes), which had been unavailable for two years.

Also, you will start seeing these posters around in the secure cycle stands as an integral part of UC’s programme towards more secure cycle parking.

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

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Tour most innovative and sustainable homes in ChCh during May

Thanks to the Superhome Movement you  have a great opportunity to look through 10 of Christchurch’s most sustainable and innovative homes each weekend in May. This is a self-guided tour, which starts this weekend. The houses are open 11 am – 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

During the tour of the homes you can talk with the builders or designers about the technologies and features of each home. For more details about each home visit www.superhome.co.nz . For the tour map, see below.

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CCC Eco-Design Advisor service

Also, if you are thinking about designing or building a new home, CCC has an Eco-Design Advisor available for free consultations. To talk with an Eco Design Advisor, call (03) 941 8999 or email eco-advisor@ccc.govt.nz. For more details visit: www.ccc.govt.nz/ecodesign 

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


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UC Bike gives new life to UC’s abandoned bikes

Earlier this year, in collaboration with UC Security and the UC Sustainability Office, UC Bike repaired, recycled and sold bikes that had been abandoned on campus. “The goal was recycling bikes and putting more people in the university community on bikes rather than making money off already cash strapped students”, Zac Porter from UC Bike explained.

In total UC Security donated 18 bikes that had been left unattended for between 1 and 3 years. Using the UC Sustainability Office’s Dr Bike tools, Olly, Zac, Ben and Brad repaired as many of these as they could. “Of these 18, we managed to get 14 running and gave them all a service, recycling what we could of the bikes that were too broken. We had quite a few franken-bikes by the end!” One of the bikes had been stolen and was re-united with its original owner.

The bikes were then sold to current and past students at a fraction of what they were worth. In total, UC Bike made over $1300, which will be spent on holding events such as Mechanics Nights to further benefit the cycling community at UC. “On Mechanics Nights we teach the basics of bike maintenance, such as how to tune a derailleur, fix flat tires, adjust brakes or anything else the attendees may want to learn on the night.” The next one will be in term 2 with the date yet to be confirmed. Keep an eye out for the event notification on UC Bike’s Facebook page!

For this year all the recycled bikes have been sold but UC Bike plans to do this every year as an ongoing initiative.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us on sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

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Record gathering of electric vehicles at UC

All the cars in the photo, except for a few at top right, drive only on electricity.

By Professor Dave Kelly from Biological Sciences.

On Saturday 22 April a new New Zealand record was set for the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in one place, in the Arts car park at UC.

The record attempt was organized by the Christchurch EV Group, in connection with the Christchurch leg of the Bluff to Cape Reinga EV trip organised by Leading the Charge, a national EV advocacy group.

The previous NZ record of 62 EVs, set in Auckland, was well broken with exactly 100 EVs gathering. That’s about 5% of the national total of EVs, with about 2,200 registered for road use throughout New Zealand as of early April. The number of EVs in the country is rising rapidly with the 2017 total being about double that of a year ago.

This row is nearly all Leafs, with one BMW i3 and one Mitsubishi iMiev.

As well as the 100 road-legal cars there were three other electric vehicles, including an electric racing car built and exhibited by the UC Engineering School. UC has been researching into electric vehicles for several decades, with the electronics which control the motor being a key part of any effective road electric vehicle. The use of the Arts car park was supported by UC’s VC Rod Carr, because of this link to UC Engineering and also UC’s commitment to sustainability.

The 100 EVs present included 62 Nissan Leafs, the most common pure electric vehicle in NZ.

For more info on the record attempt and the Christchurch EV group see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChristchurchEVGroup/

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UC students discover native birds thriving on Ilam campus

Bellbird and chicks. Photo credit Jim Briskie.

A chance discovery and a new survey by University of Canterbury students have shown that both the range and abundance of native bird species have increased at the university’s Ilam campus almost 500 per cent in the last 26 years.

Last year, as part of a lab exercise for Biology 273 (New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity), a group of UC students created a bird atlas of the UC campus and compared it to a similar atlas from 1990 (by Krystyna Dodunski, a former Zoology student).

The results of the survey indicate that in the 26 years that have passed all native species increased in range and abundance, with an increase of almost 500% in the total number of native birds observed. One species, the bellbird, is now in the early stages of colonising campus. And fantails, grey warblers and silvereyes have all become significantly more abundant on campus.

The greatest diversity of native birds occurred along the campus waterways. Professor Jim Briskie (School of Biological Sciences) says it is likely that the changes are a product of increased plantings of native trees (favoured by native birds) and decreased open space (habitat favoured by many introduced species). Maintaining and expanding native plantings at UC could also help to further increase the range of native birds, like the native pigeon or kererū.

Given the dependence of bellbirds on flowering and fruiting trees, Professor Briskie suggests it is worth considering plantings that provide this resource, and to ensure that the current small population of bellbirds does not disappear. Restoring species that formerly occurred in the Christchurch area but are now locally extinct could be a long-term goal for the management of the campus green spaces.

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

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