Green Buildings

UC's committment to green buildings on campus is expressed in three different ways;

  • existing green buildings constructed following green building principles
  • remediation of earthquake damaged buildings
  • proposed new buildings, incorporating green building principles, including building on brownfield sites. 

New building projects must use UC's UC Design Guidelines 9 Environmentally Sustainable Design.

This page profiles the sustainability features of existing green buildings on campus, which include;

  • Haere-roa (UCSA building)
  • Ernest Rutherford Ground Source Heat Pump Project (more details are coming soon)


Opened in July 2019, the UCSA building, Haere-roa, includes student welfare and advocacy spaces, an outdoor amphitheatre overlooking the Ōtakaro Avon River, as well as club, meeting, hospitality, office and event spaces.

In July 2017 the UCSA announced the building's name, Haere-roa, which translates to the longest stream or the long wanderer. It recognises the UCSA building as a space that hosts and welcomes people. The name has been gifted to the UCSA by mana whenua, Ngāi Tūāhuriri and is linked to the Ōtākaro Avon River, which flows past the UCSA site.

Key sustainability features of this building include:

  • Haere-roa was built on a brownfield site, replacing the Ilam Student Union building which was damaged during the 2011 earthquakes.

  • Haere-roa is heated with renewable energy in the form of a ground-source heat-pump system. These pumps draw stable, latent heat from the ground through the building. 

  • The building has interior and exterior ‘Innowood’ cladding (a low VOC formaldehyde emission, recycled product). 

  • Carpet tiles are made from recycled material, in no recognisable pattern allowing partial replacements without need for full replacement. 

  • 5,782 native plants were planted around Haere-roa between late-2019 and early-2020 in collaboration with the Christchurch City Council’s waterways partnership. This has helped improve the ecological health, indigenous biodiversity and the amenity value of our local urban waterways. 

Ernest Rutherford: Ground Source Heat Pump Project

UC will become carbon net neutral by 2030 and is completing work on campus from 2022 to progress towards this target. 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.

Learn more about UC's carbon net neutral work here.

More details on this project coming soon.