Past Sustainability Awards

The University of Canterbury Sustainability Office rewards those departments and people around campus that are making the effort to make this University more sustainable.

2016

Nominations were assessed by an independent panel made up of representatives from Christchurch City Council, Ara Institute of Technology and the UCSA.

Awards were presented at a ceremony in September by James Addington (President, UCSA).

In 2016 we received twice as many nominations as there were prizes. The judges were very impressed by all of the nominations, and by the wide variety of projects being undertaken at UC with a sustainability focus. Thank you to all of the people who sent in nominations for their colleagues and friends, and to all of the nominees who are doing such magnificent work.

The winners were:

Supreme Award

Alex Yip, Iman Hashemizadeh, Vladmir Golovko for the Synthetic Leaf Project

If climate change is the issue of our time, we need a multiplicity of approaches to tackle it. The divestment campaign – affecting economic structures by altering investment patterns – is one strong approach, as is engagement at the highest international political levels, as we have seen. Technological approaches are also going to be crucial. Our judges were quite gobsmacked by this team from Chemical and Process Engineering and Chemistry, who have developed a synthetic leaf that not only captures C02 but can convert it into fuel.

The UC research team led by Dr. Alex Yip believes chemical processes that capture and convert waste CO2 into useful chemicals are viable pathways to cut CO2 emissions. Since 2014, the project team has been learning from nature and successfully using photosynthesis in natural green leaves as the blueprint to develop a “sunlight-driven” process to utilise/consume CO2. Alex Yip’s team applied chemical engineering and chemistry principles to successfully replicate the key structures in natural leaves that are responsible for light-harvesting and photosynthesis using titanium dioxide (TiO2), a proven photocatalyst for CO2 reduction. The new bio-mimicked functional material will allow light-harvesting from visible sunlight and will significantly improve the efficiency of CO2 capture and usage. They have already acquired experimental data to prove that the UC-developed novel material has extrinsic excitation behaviour that allows co-production of methane and C2 hydrocarbon from CO2 and biomass-derived ethanol simultaneously under visible light. This unprecedented photocatalytic conversion achieved using the bio-mimicked material will lead the research in sustainable chemistry and engineering to a new horizon.

Fairtrade Diamond

UC Procurement for the Fair Trade Accreditation business case

In 2013 we introduced the Fairtrade Diamond category into the awards. This was basically because there was one nomination that needed an award, and we didn’t already have enough categories! In 2016 this special award has been reprised to acknowledge outstanding efforts towards creating a more socially and environmentally just world through promotion of fair trade. It was obvious that UC Procurement, who have worked so hard over the last couple of years to develop a business case for Fair Trade Accreditation of UC (with Katie Nimmo from the Sustainability Office) should be the recipients of this award. We also want to make a special mention of Fran Harlick who did the number crunching. Gathering a substantial amount of purchasing data and feeding this into a robust business case is always a massive undertaking. But also generating the political will to take this forward to the Senior Management Team and have them endorse it is a very tough thing to do, not to mention then carrying it through University Council to adopt as university policy. Yet this is what UC Procurement have done, and it is worthy of huge celebration. Their work has meant that fair trade is now the default purchasing option for all university departments, and the other requirements of accreditation will be met. This follows on from the decisions made years ago by the UCSA, of course, to only sell fair trade coffee through its cafes. Universities are supposed to be the critics and conscience of society, and it is right that we take a strong position on these matters. When we achieve fair trade accreditation that will send a very strong signal out into the community about what we stand for, and we honour the team at Procurement for everything they have done to make this possible.

Gold (Staff)

Eric Pawson and Simon Kingham for GEOG 309 Community Service

Since 2008 Eric Pawson and Simon Kingham have been running courses in Geography that have exemplified the extraordinary outcomes possible for students and community through taking a service learning approach. They have ushered hundreds of students through GEOG 309 and 402, working with community partners to deliver work which usually has a sustainability focus. The results inform community knowledge (eg a sequence of projects undertaken over some years in the residential red zone with the Avon-Otākaro Network), assessing the social and economic impact of community initiatives (eg the time bank and farmers’ market for Project Lyttelton), exploring options for future community development (eg an edible school walking route for Project Lyttelton), assessing more effective ways to undertake community work (eg land assessment and educational outreach for Trees for Canterbury) and building resources for future community use (eg sound and image community archive for Peterborough Village Inc). In all they have worked to establish a community network of around thirty partner organisations. These courses have become exemplars within the University for the power of service learning and the judges were astounded when considering how their work has influenced their students’ approach to sustainability issues, how it has assisted community organisations in essential ways, how they have helped redefine the University’s connection with the wider community and how these courses have allowed for a new way to think about what meaningful tertiary education can look like.

Gold (Student)

George Moon for the Eco Club Network

Herding cats has never been a simple task, and requires magician-like mastery. George Moon is that magician and, with some great helpers to be sure, has created something that others have never quite managed. He saw the opportunity to bring the eco-related student clubs together and operate as more of a collective, sharing resources and utilising their resources to best effect. Even getting this many clubs together in the same room is a significant achievement. However, George has gone beyond this and managed to establish some shared agreements, established a social media presence in a crowded clubs scene, and developed the idea of a Sustain-a-ball event which hopefully will come off in 2017. Collaboration is a hallmark of sustainability approaches, and consensus amongst different groupings is never a straightforward task – as we can see at the international level. George’s leadership for sustainability on campus will certainly have its effect beyond the campus, and his ability to bring people together around a common cause is demonstrated by the fact that he is one of only two people to ever have been nominated by two different people (Bronwyn, operating internationally, is the other). The Eco Club Network he has been instrumental in developing is a testament to his commitment and abilities in organising, and the judges were really excited to see this NZ-first created here at UC.

Silver (local) (Staff)

Rachel Collins
for the Furniture Project

The judges also noted that making change at the very local level is incredibly important. The competition this year was especially tough, but the judges couldn’t overlook the tremendous efforts of Rachel Collins in overhauling the way the University looks at furniture. That is, 4,000 cubic metres of furniture or 170 container loads, to be precise. This was the amount of furniture being stored by the University post-earthquakes. Rachel worked tirelessly to secure SMT approval for a furniture policy, which ensures reuse of existing stock before buying new. The preferred suppliers for new furniture even have their own incredible sustainability stories. Rachel’s brilliance at marshalling all the requisite forces around this project have made an astonishing long-term impact on reducing waste.

Silver (global) (Staff)

Bronwyn Hayward for International Climate Change Efforts

It is extraordinary to note that some people here are tackling the biggest issues at the highest international level, and Bronwyn is one of these people. This year Bronwyn was honoured by being selected as one of 78 world experts to participate in the scoping meeting of the Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5 ºC above Pre-Industrial Levels and Related Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathways within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. She was selected from a total of 589 world expert nominations that were received from 85 countries and 39 observer organizations. The panel is charged with developing the terms of reference and scientific work plan and presenting them as recommendations to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Executive. The judges were rightly dazzled by this incredible achievement which may lead to substantial and much needed change in approaches to climate change – surely the issue of our time.

Silver (Student)

Daniel Bishop for the Log Cabin Project

Sometimes we need to look to the past to learn what a truly sustainable alternative to a current problem might be. Daniel’s role in a multi-stakeholder project to design and build a log cabin is a great example of this, and the judges were impressed by the concept generally but also the deftness with which Daniel has obviously played his part. He led consultation with Ngati Rangi in Ohakune, Council and log home builders, modelled thermal performance, undertook an economic analysis of log building business, and worked over the summer to peel the logs and build the house. His role in this project was therefore pivotal and inspirational.

Long Service Volunteer Award

Tracey Tarrant for Okeover Community Garden service

The University of Canterbury has a long tradition of encouraging volunteering in the community. But what about when the community wants to volunteer at the University? That’s exactly what has happened here. Tracey Tarrant has been volunteering at the University’s Okeover Community Garden for many years. She started by coming with a group of other people, and then discovered after a while that it was easier to come direct on the bus all the way from her home in Sumner. Gaining in confidence, Tracey has been able to seek and find employment working in a garden centre and has become phenomenally more independent. As her nominator said: “Everyone has something to contribute to the garden group and through this act, can be supported and nourished toward self-empowerment.” This award comes with our heartfelt thanks to Tracey for everything she has contributed to the garden over the years.

Nominations were received for the following people and projects:

NameProject
Alex Yip Synthetic Leaf Project
Brad Ash IT Recycling Service
Bronwyn Hayward International Climate Change Efforts for sustainability : Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change
Catherine Woods Admin Plus
Daniel Bishop Log Cabin Project
Eric Pawson and Simon Kingham GEOG 309 Community Service
Fossil Free UC Fossil Free UC
George Moon Eco Club Network
HR Development Team UC Temporary Vacancies (UCTV) system 
Pariya Tork UC Bio Fun
Rachel Collins Furniture Project
Simon White Toner Take Back 
Susan Krumdiek Climate Action: Ideas Beyond Targets
Tracey Tarrant Community Garden Long Term Volunteer
UC Procurement Fair Trade Accreditation

2013

The awards were announced on 20th September to conclude Eco Week, in a ceremony presided over by UCSA Vice President Andrew Ramsay.

This year the Supreme winner won a trip to Kaikoura courtesy of Intercity, for a fantastic Whale Watch experience, Seal Swim Kaikoura, lunch at Dolphin Encounter Cafe, dinner at the Green Dolphin, accommodation courtesy of YHA Kaikoura Maui, and more! Other prizes included dinner at the Lotus Heart Restaurant, movie vouchers for Alice Cinematheque, vouchers for the Shilling Club (thanks UCSA!) Trade Aid chocolate, All Good bananas and plenty more.

Nominees were judged against the following criteria: scope/reach (eg is this a small portion of the UC community, is it UC wide, does it reach beyond the University?), innovation, challenge (how easy or hard was this to implement?) and the overall sustainability credentials of the project. Judges included a new criterion for deliverability - has this already been implemented or is it still at concept stage?

The judging panel was: Chrissie Williams (former Christchurch City Councillor and now leader of Ecan's Natural Environment Recovery Programme), Tony Moore (Christchurch City Council's Sustainability Advisor), Bjorn Arndt (UCSA Exec Member - Sustainability) and Sally Airey (Gap Filler Trust).

Supreme Award

Jason Pemberton, Residential Red Zone Reclamation Project

The judges were unanimous in choosing Jason Pemberton for the 2013 UC Sustainability Awards Supreme Award. Jason, who is General Manager of the Volunteer Army Foundation and UC alumnus, organised and implemented 10 occurrences of the Residential Red Zone Reclamation Project with over 400 UC students and visiting US study abroad students. The Project involved Jason securing access through CERA – no small achievement in itself – to uninhabited, red zoned properties in the Burwood area of Christchurch and then organising groups of students to go and salvage safely accessible materials fence timber, corrugated iron from sheds, paving stones  and re-plantable vegetation. All of this material would otherwise have been landfilled, but was instead put to good use in projects such as those organised by Gapfiller and Greening the Rubble. Beyond the remarkable recycling effort, the deftly-executed initiative has had an important part to play in creating unique sustainability-related experiences for a large number of students and will have left them with an enduring sense of achievement and meaningful participation at an unprecedented moment in Christchurch’s history.

Fairtrade Diamond Award

Simon White, Paper Reduction Project

The judges insisted on a special award being given to Simon for exemplary leadership, and ‘heroic patience’, in implementing a number of initiatives through Canterbury Educational Printing Services that collectively have seen UC’s use of paper shrink from 15 million sides of an A4 sheet per annum to 5 million per annum. This stunning result impressed the judges because it cut across the whole campus population, required a mix of technological and cultural changes and generally extraordinary change management skills. In addition to paper reduction, Simon and his team have also paid attention to energy reduction, plastic waste reduction, toner cartridge recycling and even to carbon emissions through their fleet vehicles. While Simon would credit much of this work to his team, the judges wanted to recognise the on-going leadership and drive Simon has demonstrated for sustainability within CEPS.

Gold Award, Student

Hannah Howard, for work with UC Bike and the establishment of the Re:Cycle Project

Making commuter cycling accessible to more people is a major challenge but is a crucial sustainability issue of our time, and one that Hannah tackled head-on this year at UC. As president of UC Bike – the student bike club – Hannah assisted commuters onto bikes in a number of ways, including introducing a commuter group into UC Bike and keeping the Dr Bike maintenance service running. But she receives this award primarily for her work in developing the Re:Cycle Project, where she and other club members refurbished abandoned bikes on campus and sold them on to students at cost. We know from our survey work that lack of access to a bike is a major barrier to people biking! But this project also had an important recycling component. The project received media attention and because of Hannah’s hard work looks set to be perpetuated within UC Bike. This award recognises not only the great idea, but the fact that Hannah has really ‘delivered’.

Gold Award, Staff

HydroEco Research Team, for the group’s work in monitoring and restoring the Okeover Stream (Ash O’Sullivan, Tom Cochrane, Tonny de Vries, Peter McGuigan)

Long-term research into storm water quality and mitigation led by this team has left a tangible footprint and formidable legacy both on and off campus. This award recognises outstanding research and leadership with a particular focus on Okeover Stream, a special treasure flowing through campus that new campus plans refer to as an ‘ecological corridor’. This is a far cry from the muddy ditch it was scarcely more than ten years ago and this is due in no small part to the work of this team. The award also recognises the fact that more than 200 Civil and Natural Resources Engineering students use the stream in their class work each year and that it has been the subject of numerous academic research publications. The group has hosted secondary school students on stream walks and has recently been awarded very significant funding by the Christchurch City Council to develop a ‘research park’ approach to test storm water solutions to provide vitally needed data for new storm water consents – of which there will be many in the coming years. As such, this team is having a major influence on water quality within Christchurch City.

Silver Award, Student

Samia Ali, for proposed work with recycling glass

Samia’s PhD research into reusing glass as a cement replacement in concrete is another audacious and exciting idea that could transform the cement industry and reduce glass in our waste stream considerably. In recognition of this fabulous idea, Samia has already been awarded a sizeable grant from BRANZ and has received in-kind support from Allied Concrete. This is a perfect example of how sustainability thinking can support industry and, with much concrete about to be poured in our city the timeliness of the project is obvious.

Silver Award, Staff

From the Ground Up Team (Susan Krumdieck), for research into sustainable suburban development options post-earthquake

Susan Krumdieck and her team have been awarded the silver prize for staff in recognition of the tremendous leadership Susan in particular has shown in daring to imagine and articulate a vision for a different, sustainable model of community development in Christchurch post-earthquake. The plan for a ‘ground up’ retrofitting of Upper Riccarton, along the lines of an Eco District not dependent on cars and taking a 250 year view, is breath taking and has garnered a high level of positive media exposure, and could provide a benchmark model for developers everywhere.

Highly Commended Students

Kirtana Darabel, for research into and design of a web-based photovoltaic calculation tool

Kirtana receives this award for conceptualising a research project for the final year of her Computer Engineering degree, designed to make it easier for consumers to choose photovoltaic arrays that will best suit their domestic needs. This is a web-based product that it is hoped will, over time, increase sales of solar power systems and help residents become more self-sufficient in energy use. Although still in the planning stages, this award recognises Kirtana’s forethought regarding a significant issue that is only going to become more pressing over time and highly relevant for Christchurch as it plans for its sustainable rebuild.

Tom Marr and Timm Treskatis, for DigSoc

The community gardens on campus have been a brilliant meeting and learning space for over ten years now, but earlier this year a group of students decided it was time to form a student gardening society. This was not just to wrap more support around the community gardens, but also to raise awareness about the simple joys and ecstacies of growing food. Tom, as president of DigSoc has provided outstanding, creative leadership in this group while Timm, as treasurer is renowned amongst other things for his superb pizza bases. As a result of their efforts, the club has over 100 members.

Natalie Kittow, for creating an exchange economy based around relational aesthetics and sustainable clothing

Changing out an entire wardrobe and replacing it with sustainable options is a challenge in itself. But to do this as an artwork focussed around the idea of ‘relational aesthetics’, and generating an alternative economy in the process, is really taking things to the next level. Natalie has achieved exactly this, becoming a true role model and embodying that important notion of ‘being the change you want to see in the world’ and inspiring others to question their habits and actions and lead more sustainable lives.

Highly Commended Staff

Ryan Reynolds, for Gap Filler Trust and Life in Vacant Spaces

Ryan’s contribution to transitional city initiatives as a founder of Gap Filler Trust and as strategic advisor to Life in Vacant Spaces is recognised in this award. These initiatives have made an important contribution to the lives of residents of the (euphemistically called) transitional city, surely generating stronger social sustainability in our communities.

Simon Kingham, for the Endorsement in Resilience and Sustainability, and SUST 201

Developing the first significant plank in UC’s sustainability curriculum has been no straight-forward challenge. Although developed by a team of people, Simon’s leadership during the crucial committee phase earlier this year secured its approval within UC. It is now being consulted on nationally and it is hoped this will be ready for students early next year.

Thanks to our sponsors

  • Whale Watch Kaikoura
  • YHA New Zealand
  • EarthCheck
  • InterCity Coachlines
  • Seal Swim Kaikoura
  • Encounter... Kaikoura
  • Kaikoura District Council
  • The Lotus Heart
  • UCSA
  • Trade Aid
  • Alice Cinemateque
  • All Good
  • Green Dolphin restaurant and bar
  • Māori Tours Kaikoura