Our environmental contribution

As an organisation, Environment Canterbury is conscious of its own carbon footprint. We continue to work to reduce our organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions and to manage our 2,700 hectares of forestry which provide a significant carbon sink (natural systems that suck up and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).  

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

An independent report into Environment Canterbury’s 2017 greenhouse gas emissions has shown the tangible ways in which the organisation has reduced its level of emissions, as well as highlighting an appetite for ongoing improvements.

Among other things, the report highlighted:

  • a 26% reduction per staff member in greenhouse gas emissions since 30 June 2010, putting Environment Canterbury on track to contributing to the internationally recognised Paris Agreement national target of a 30% reduction by 2030;
  • the removal of 5,755.5 tonnes more greenhouse gases than is emitted, due to forestry sequestration (NB the offset figure relates to only the very small part of total forestry assets that are eligible for units under the Emissions Trading Scheme – the actual carbon being sequestered is far higher); and
  • an increase in the amount of waste sent to landfill (by 10%), based on kilograms per staff member.

The full story is available here:Postive emissions report sets tone for behaviour change.

Other actions

Examples of other actions we are taking as an organisation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions include the following:

Tuam street office

Environment Canterbury’s Tuam Street office, which was completed in April 2016,is heated by a heat exchange unit, using artesian water pumped through the building. One hundred percent of water abstracted from the aquifer is discharged back into to the aquifer, hence there is no net water consumption from the aquifer for heating or for cooling.

In November 2018 we installed a grid tied, solar system on the roof. The 114 panels have the potential to generate over 34.2kWh of electricity per year. For more on that, see this news story: Sun shines on Environment Canterbury's efforts to reduce carbon footprint.

In February 2019 the building received a 4.5 Star (between "excellent" and "market-leading" performance) NABERSNZ rating based on energy consumption for the 2018 calendar year. The NABERSNZ scale is from 0 to 6, and shows energy performance compared to other buildings. The assessment carried out to determine star rating included surveying staff for an indication on building occupancy, assessing meeting room utilisation, assessing generator consumption and assessing power bills.

There is hand sanitiser in all bathrooms to save water, as well as recyclable bags at the exits to eliminate the need for single plastic bags. These initiatives will be rolled out to our other sites in 2019.

Low-carbon transport

We encourage the use of alternative, low carbon transport options to our staff and to the community, such as cycling and public transport. We have added electric bikes and electric scooters as another way for Environment Canterbury staff to get to meetings in other parts of the city.

We currently lease five electric vehicles (EVs) from Yoogo, all staff have access to the shared EV fleet at The Crossing, and we have budgeted to start purchasing our own EVs in 2019-20, with an aim of having 50% of our passenger vehicles being pure electric by 2022.

We are in the process of upgrading our fleet vehicles to have copper-free brake pads. Having copper-free brake pads will help to reduce the amount of copper and other metals that end up on the road as ordinary brake pads wear down, and then get washed into streams and rivers.

Single-use plastic bag ban

The Environment Canterbury council chair signed a letter, sent to the Associate Minister for the Environment in July 2017, calling for a levy on single-use plastic bags, alongside over 60 other Mayors and Chairs of local government organisations across New Zealand. Since then, a total ban has been announced by the government, with all single-use bags to be phased out before the end of 2019. Read more on the LGNZ website.

Printing efficiency

At Environment Canterbury, we are conscious of being efficient and having minimal waste when it comes to printing. We have our own in-house digital print service and print on-demand; meaning we can print in smaller volumes, be flexible and adapt to changes, carry minimal amounts of stock (which removes the risk of deterioration to paper stock) – all of which contributes to having as little waste as possible. We also plan to introduce new printing software in 2019 which should reduce our printing waste significantly.

Our floor printers use carbon neutral, 20% recycled copy paper. We also use  “Follow-me” printing, which reduces instances of people sending documents to print and then leaving them on the printer.

Any printing we outsource is produced with stringent requirements. Our region-wide campaigns, such as our “Living Here” mailout, are printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved paper, harvested from sustainable resources and partly recycled.

Another way we consider the environment is through recycling the material we use. A number of our billboards have been made into “bean bags”, now used as pull-up seats for informal desk meetings, and our pull-up banners are often recycled and/or reused for other campaigns.