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Carbon net neutral work

30 November 2023

UC will become carbon net neutral by 2030. We're completing work on campus from 2022 to progress towards this target. This work has been planned for some time. Since the mid-1990s we've had an energy efficiency programme and since 2010 we've measured and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 49%. Learn more about carbon net neutral work at UC.


This work has been planned for some time. Since the mid-1990s UC has had an energy efficiency programme, and since 2010 the University has measured and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 49% (this figure was also influenced by COVID-19 restrictions).

UC’s newer buildings, Haere-roa the UCSA student building, and student accommodation Tupuānuku, are heated with renewable energy from GSHP. This system is also used in public buildings in Ōtautahi Christchurch such as Tūranga, the city library.

UC received $8.4m in funding from the government’s State Sector Decarbonisation Fund in 2020 and 2021 to both convert the Ilam campus coal-fired boilers to biomass and to facilitate the provision of ground source heat pump (GSHP) to the Science precinct. These projects will reduce emissions by a further 11,000 tonnes of CO₂-e (carbon dioxide equivalent) and completely remove coal from Ilam campus. Eventually, a further 22 buildings on Ilam campus will have their external thermal envelopes upgraded to be compatible with ground-source heat-pump heating. At that point, the converted biomass boilers will be decommissioned and the UC built-environment will be entirely served from non-combustion based renewable energy.

Our value of tiakitanga guides our work to care for our environment, resources and people. UC is a leader in sustainability and is recognised in the top 50 of sustainable universities globally by Times Higher Education. Our teaching and learning prepares our graduates for a changing world where they will need to develop solutions to sustainability problems, and part of this is to ensure they learn on a campus where sustainable operations are also a priority.


Ground source heat pump and biomass boiler conversion


From July 2022, we will convert four buildings on Ilam campus to ground source heat pumps (GSHP). This will involve drilling four new bores in the middle of campus – two for extracting water and two for returning water to the ground – as well as a plant room next to Ernest Rutherford building.

There will be some disruption from this work. The noise will be noticeable at times and there will also be low level vibration, however our team will be doing everything they can to minimise the effects while this necessary work is undertaken.

Disruptive groundworks on campus are always halted during exam periods, so that students can focus on what’s most important.

The current work is a stage on our way to being carbon net neutral. Thank you for your understanding. Please take care around work sites and respect the team’s safety instructions.

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