Our energy journey

UC is on a journey to neutralise carbon emissions, in line with the aspirations of our students and staff, our partners and communities, and Aotearoa New Zealand. We want to be part of the solution to the climate emergency that has been declared in Waitaha Canterbury and around the world.

Since the mid-1990s UC has had an energy efficiency programme, and since 2010 the University has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by almost a third. The programme includes:

  • energy efficient design of new buildings and renovations
  • energy audits and ongoing monitoring
  • progressive upgrading of existing buildings on campus to improve their energy performance.

In 2018 UC launched a Low Carbon Energy Scheme Roadmap strategy, which plans to cut the coal-based carbon footprint emissions by 80% by 2023.

The recently completed Haere-roa, UCSA student building, is heated with renewable energy in the form of a ground-source heat-pump (GSHP) system. These pumps draw stable, latent heat from the ground through the building. A new accommodation block for 500 students under construction also uses a GSHP system, as will the planned new Recreation Centre.

Existing legacy buildings on the Ilam and Dovedale campuses present more of a challenge to UC’s long term carbon neutral goals and Aotearoa New Zealand’s Carbon Zero goals.

Implementing new biomass boilers, which use carbon-neutral forestry waste-wood, are planned to be completed in stages – Ilam campus boiler upgrade in 2020 and Dovedale campus boiler upgrade in 2021 - at an estimate cost of $19 million. Installing biomass boilers will result in an immediate reduction of coal emissions at the Ilam campus from 11,000 tonnes annually to 2,200 annually - an 80% reduction. See the latest media release outlining government funding towards the biomass boiler on Ilam campus here. 

At the same time, legacy buildings are being progressively upgraded with improvements to thermal efficiency so that less heating is needed, in preparation to a longer term move to GSHP. UC will convert existing buildings to non-combustion heating over the next twenty years.

Exemplifying UC’s commitment to green building practices, UC is a proud member of the New Zealand Green Building Council. Existing certified green buildings on campus include:

  • School of Biological Sciences
  • John Britten engineering facility
  • Health Centre

More information about green buildings at UC is here.

UC has employed an Energy Manager since 2009 to work with UC Staff, consultants, contractors, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), to find ways to increase energy efficiency in the built-environment and reduce water consumption on campus.

EECA works with UC to identify and provide energy audits; feasibility studies and design/commissioning advice to deliver energy efficient projects.

CEMARS certification

UC was the first university in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme) certification in 2011. CEMARS certification involves measurement and planned reduction of greenhouse gas emissions generated as a result of the university's business activities.

The UC Sustainability Framework seeks to embed sustainable practices into the University’s operations as we strive towards becoming a sustainable organisation.

What can I do to save energy? Click here for energy saving tips.