Sustainable Christchurch

Everyone can take steps to make sure that Christchurch remains an enjoyable place to live for generations to come. Sustainable Christchurch is about living and working smarter, making better choices, so that we can live today, looking forward to tomorrow.

Here are some practical ways you can take action at home:

Future Living Skills courses

Find out what practical steps you can take to make a real difference:

Be energy efficient

Being more efficient with your energy use will give you a warm, healthy home. Free, reliable and independent energy advice, together with financial support is available from:

Be energy wise

Grow your own food

Enjoy delicious fresh fruit and crisp vegetables grown at home.

Conserve water

Being waterwise means that you are making our precious water last by:

  • stopping drips
  • watering the garden only when necessary
  • only washing full loads
  • washing your car on your lawn with a bucket
  • choosing water efficient appliances, toilets and showers.

Reduce your rubbish

Reducing your rubbish is simple and is something that can involve the whole family.

Get a warmer, drier, more comfortable home

A sustainable home is healthy, energy efficient and more affordable to run.  By improving your home's insulation, ventilation, and heating you can live a healthier, more comfortable home:

Shop wisely

When shopping, look for products that are good for you and the environment:

Clean your home without nasty chemicals

Cleaning your home without chemicals is better for you and need not cost the earth:

Be climate friendly

You can help to cool the climate by being energy efficient, reducing waste, shopping wisely and using your car less:

Did you know?

  • Over 400 Christchurch households have signed on to the Sustainable Living Programme, where they learn how to enjoy life with less impact on the environment.
  • Over 12,000 homes in Christchurch are now warm, dry and smoke-less due to the financial support of the Environment Canterbury's Clean Heat Programme.
  • Saving water also saves energy. Pumping water to and from homes and businesses uses as much energy as powering all of the street lights in the city.
  • There are over 50 green grocers and farmers markets throughout the city selling fresh locally grown food.
  • There are 30 community gardens in the city producing food and sharing ideas on gardening and composting.
  • The three bin domestic kerbside collection service will help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
  • Christchurch residents take 53,000 bus trips each day, a hassle-free and cost-effective way to reduce congestion, parking worries and vehicle emissions.

Schools can have a positive impact on their environment and community. They can reduce their rubbish, encourage walking or biking and reduce their water and energy use.  Learning Through Action provides free outdoor learning for students.

Reduce waste

  • Recycling: the Council provides free recycling services to schools and early childcare centres.
  • Composting: the Council provides free composting workshops for students, teachers and parents.

Plan your travel

Training events

Whole-school approach

There are environmentally friendly options for smart and safe travel. Save costs and hassles by walkingcyclingcar pooling and catching the bus.

If you need to take the car be a fuel saver(external link) by doing multiple jobs with each trip and by driving smoothly and slowly. Choose the right car(external link) to improve your safety and fuel performance.

Leave the car at home

  • Walk for fun and fitness. Christchurch has over 49 scenic short walks and over 70 walking groups helping you to explore and enjoy your surroundings.
  • Go by bike. Move around the city with ease on the 53km of on-road cycle lanes and enjoy the 73km of off-road cycle paths in and around the city. 
  • Go by bus(external link). Enjoy the journey and the destination. Buses can take you to most recreational areas in the city.

There are many ways to get involved in making your community more sustainable, from getting to know your neighbours or becoming a volunteer to having your say on things that affect you and your community.

Take action to help make your community and Christchurch a more enjoyable place to live.

  • Community funds are available to help individuals and organisations make a difference in their communities.
  • Our culture and community page lists other community activities, support and facilities. 

 With other organisations


Actions you can take
Sustainable Otautahi-Christchurch(external link) Attend a seminar to learn more about sustainability and network with knowledgeable people keen to share and influence the way the city develops
Project Lyttelton(external link) Be part of making Lyttelton a vibrant, fun-loving and caring community
Lincoln Envirotown(external link) Be part of making Lincoln a sustainable town of the future
Transition Town(external link)s Be part of moving communities to a low carbon future
CINCH(external link) Directory of community, sports, hobby and cultural groups and courses in Christchurch
Volunteering Canterbury(external link) Become a volunteer in Canterbury
Community Garden(external link) Help out and be rewarded with fruit, vegetables, friends and fun

Find out what we are doing to make sure Council operates sustainably and how we measure our progress. 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. Fifty per cent 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 within its Annual Report and within its monitoring of Community Outcomes.

Our successes

The Council is proud to have kept the costs of energy (in dollars per household) at the same level as 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 has won widespread recognition; with our goal 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 are:

  • replacing a fossil fuel with a renewable resource
  • reducing transportation costs by using a locally recycled 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 wellbeing in Council staff
  • a reduction in the number of cars required by the 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 by shutting down computers and monitors when they are not needed.

Capture and re-use heat

Graham Condon Recreation Centre pool In 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 nearby businesses 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.

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
  • 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.

Energy-efficient lighting

selection of different traffic light signals In 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 per cent. As our traffic lights need replacing, we are moving to LED fittings, with five watt bulbs. This will reduce our original power consumption by 93 per cent. LED bulbs have a longer life so the cost of maintaining our traffic lights will also reduce.

Using the wind

wind turnbine installed at Gebbies Pass A 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 by:

  • 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 because:

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

Using solar energy

Council installed solar hot water panels in some of its elderly persons' flats. These provide at least half of the hot water needed by the residents each year and amount to 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.
  • Low-use plumbing fixtures were used to reduce water consumption and rain water for flushing.