Tag Archives: Sustainable campus

Next week’s School Strike 4 Climate NZ

UC recognises the School Strike 4 Climate NZ event, which is the third such protest this year, on Friday 27 September. However, this time organisers are calling on universities, and everyone who is concerned about climate change, to join them.

As a learning institution we are committed to discovering and sharing the solutions that will contribute to a sustainable future. We understand that staff and students may want to attend this event in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Staff who want to take a few hours away from work on 27 September to attend the School Strike 4 Climate can take paid leave, providing that their line manager approves their absence request and that the operations of the University will not be impacted. Teaching staff who have lectures at the time will need to put the learning needs of their students first, as classes will continue as usual.

Please apply for your manager’s approval well in advance of the day and apply for “time off in lieu” within UC People.

Students have been advised by email “to make arrangements to catch up on any lectures or other work you may miss, as classes will continue as usual on the day at UC. You will only be able to miss assessments by prior arrangement with your lecturer. Please arrange this well before the day, as lecturers are not obliged to accommodate your absence”.

You can continue to take action after the School Strike 4 Climate – see the Sustainability pages of our website for ways to help create a more sustainable future.

Ngā mihi

Professor Cheryl de la Rey
Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae

UC’s Edible Campus

Missed our Edible Campus walking tour? Here’s the link to our Edible Campus Map, so you can take yourself foraging on campus whenever you like!

The fruit, nuts and berries you see on campus are all free for you to forage as you wish. However, we ask you do some research if you’re unsure – some edibles may look ready before they are actually ripe for picking!

You can always be in touch with the Sustainability Office if you have any questions about foraging on campus.

The Sustainability Office has a long-term plan to see more food grown on campus, complementing the plantings and ecological restoration work we have been supporting. As issues of food accessibility and affordability become better understood, we are committed to proving an edible landscape for our UC community. The idea of an edible campus and a food forest is embedded in UC’s landscape master plan.

We already have two community gardens on campus – those on the tour visited Okeover Community Garden with us, and we also have an allotment style community garden based at Dovedale.

Interested in volunteering in our community garden? All volunteers are welcome to take home fresh produce in return for their time. See more about volunteering with us here.

Found an edible on campus that isn’t on this map? Please let us know! We’re in the process of updating and refreshing our Edible Campus maps and guides.

Happy foraging UC!

This message was bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected, and be in touch with us! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or check out our website for more information about what we do, and upcoming events.

Got a question or want to know more? Email us at sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz


Native birds more abundant on UC Campus

Bellbird and chicks. Photo credit Jim Briskie.
Bellbird and chicks. Photo credit Jim Briskie.

A recent survey of the UC campus shows that in the last 26 years, both the range and abundance of all native bird species have increased.

Last year, as part of a lab exercise for Biology 273 (New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity), a group of UC students created a bird atlas of the UC campus and compared it to a similar atlas from 1990 (by Krystyna Dodunski, a former Zoology student).

The results of the survey indicate that in the 26 years that have passed, all native species increased in range and abundance, with an increase of almost 500 percent in the total number of native birds observed. One species, the bellbird, is now in the early stages of colonising campus. And fantails, grey warblers and silvereyes have all become significantly more abundant on campus.

The greatest diversity of native birds occurred along the campus waterways. Professor Jim Briskie (School of Biological Sciences) says it is likely that the changes are a product of increased plantings of native trees (favoured by native birds) and decreased open space (habitat favoured by many introduced species). Maintaining and expanding native plantings at UC could also help to further increase the range of native birds, like the native pigeon or kererū.

Song Thrush. Photo credit Jim Briskie.
Song Thrush. Photo credit Jim Briskie.

Given the dependence of bellbirds on flowering and fruiting trees, Professor Briskie suggests it is worth considering plantings that provide this resource, and to ensure that the current small population of bellbirds does not disappear. Restoring species that formerly occurred in the Christchurch area but are now locally extinct could be a long-term goal for the management of the campus green spaces.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

UC’s Sustainable Furniture


Some seats are covered with Banks Peninsula Wool!

 When we talk about sustainability, it’s often about waste or energy but not about procurement (how UC buys its goods from external parties). That’s a shame because UC’s procurement of “new” furniture has great sustainability features! We had a chat to Shelley Ranson from UC Procurement.

What does your team do?
We provide purchasing and procurement services to the University.  In terms of sustainability, we want to maximise social and economic benefits, and minimise damage to health and the environment. Often this means giving time to explore possibilities. For instance, by talking openly with supply partners we encourage them to review their existing sustainability initiatives and explore new opportunities. The Furniture Project is a recent example of this. 

The Furniture Project?
With the pending completion of several major new buildings, and UC’s ‘normal’ ongoing requirement for new furniture, it wasn’t possible to furnish from existing stock, and a lot of new furniture was required. We selected four preferred suppliers and a core catalogue range. During the project a Furniture Policy was written as well.

What sustainable features does the new furniture have?
The core range furniture has the following features:

  • Environmentally responsible manufacturing:
    Materials are low emission, sustainably sourced and designed for disassembly at end-of-life
  • Socially responsible manufacturing:
    Chain of custody for manufacture, particularly with regard to working conditions of off-shore labour
  • Durability:
    eg, AFRDI* and BIFMA** accreditation. This means the furniture is tough enough to withstand the high wear and tear environment of a university and won’t break or wear out as quickly as standard furniture
  • Ergonomic features:
    So workplace health and safety is supported
  • Future re-use or recycling potential:
    The ability to relocate furniture for continued use around campus by establishing a standard range of furniture
  • Excellent warranty periods:
    Reducing whole-of-life costs and extending the functional life of the furniture.

Developing a transparent supply chain has enabled us to understand the source materials and the location of manufacturing of our core range. Some of the selected products are locally manufactured in Aotearoa New Zealand. One example is the soft seat covering of wool, which is produced from Banks Peninsula sheep!

What inspired the sustainability element in procurement decisions?
Procurement meets fortnightly with the Sustainability Office to discuss current  projects and new initiatives. Through these discussions we have been able to identify potential ways in which UC can increase the use of environmental and socially responsible products and services. Also, Bronwyn Rice (our Procurement Strategist) comes from a background of sustainable procurement and brings her experience with Australian universities to UC.


And the old furniture, what happens to it?
A robust disposal guideline is being followed, which means, for instance, that any furniture that can be reused will be stored***. We are also reviewing options for re-covering existing chairs to extend their life cycle. Obsolete items are at times given away or sold to local schools, education charities or UC staff/students. Our furniture storage partner (Allied Pickfords) has several partnerships, including charities, to facilitate this. Obsolete items are broken into component parts for scrap and recycling. Landfill is a last resort for damaged items that cannot be re-used, gifted or recycled in any way.

Finally, what are some of the other sustainable procurement initiatives?
One is our collaboration with Futureworks, our Audio-Visual (AV) supplier. At the design stage, they advise on environmentally friendly options for installations (ee, RMS is a solution that reduces energy consumption by remotely turning off equipment in empty rooms). They also offer environmentally friendly hardware disposal by arranging the delivery of obsolete hardware to recycling organisations. Another exciting collaboration is with our preferred catering suppliers. They engage in a variety of activities, like supporting local producers where possible, using fair trade products, offering BYO mug options or arranging for food waste to go to farms.

Some other initiatives we are exploring include:

  • removal of packaging
  • compostable packaging including coffee cups, plates etc.
  • paper trial underway through UC Print (Chamex) made from renewable and certified Brazilian forests
  • new cleaning consumable supplier (Advance Clean), which manufactures own range of eco-friendly cleaning products (Advance Nature)
  • new preferred transport provider (Red Bus) are leaders in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.

The University is in a great position to instigate change within supply chains and to support sustainability at a local business level.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

* Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute
** Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association *** Any furniture requirements should be done via a BEIMS request. More information available here.


Origins of Eco Week

Eco Week snippit 2In less than two weeks, UC Eco Week 2016 is kicking off (19 – 24 September). The Sustainability Office will be bringing you a variety of awesome events that celebrate and promote what you can do for the environment, your community and your life.

A bit of history

Eco Week evolved out of Health Awareness Week. The Sustainability Office used to partner with the UCSA to deliver an annual programme of events in September to promote healthy living.

In 2010, when the UCSA decided not to run Health Awareness Week, the Sustainability Office launched Eco Awareness Week instead, which later became Eco Week. The first Eco Week in 2010 was of course affected by the September earthquakes and as a result we ran it as Eco Survival Week – focusing on practical sustainability skills for surviving in an uncertain environment.

ENGS5715_Eco_Week_WordPress_BNRTo begin with, Eco Week involved a series of small events that continued the theme of healthy living with an eco-twist: so we did things like vegan cooking and gardening workshops.

In 2011 we expanded the idea of Eco Week to really showcase all the sustainability programmes at UC and package them as a comprehensive whole. We also trialed the Sustainability Awards, which, for the first time, rewarded, members of the UC community for their sustainability efforts. After a hiatus in 2014-15, the awards are back in 2016.

They are so important because “lack of recognition” for sustainability efforts has been identified as one of the key barriers to people getting involved in activities that are not part of their work programmes or courses of study.

Growing Eco Week

In 2012 we experimented with a high profile, large scale event. Cycle Runway was a fashion show on bikes that was attended by 200 people, gained national media coverage and involved dozens of designers.

Since that time we focused Eco Week around a few high impact events, such as film nights (we are screening the award winning doco Just Eat It this year!), the tiny house tour, the edible campus tour and the fair trade banana ice cream and coffee launch (all free!),  which is always very popular and has now become a tradition.

Since 2014 the communications around, and the reach of, Eco Week has improved dramatically, and every year more staff and students get involved. Every year students and student clubs volunteer at the Eco Week events, or organise their own events during Eco Week. (Check here to keep an eye out for the clubs are holding during Eco Week.)

What’s on

We have some great events lined up for you:

Monday 19 September, fair trade Eco Week launch: Come and enjoy free fair trade All Good banana ice creams and free shots of fair trade Jail Breaker coffee in the Undercroft, 12 noon – 1.30pm.

indexTuesday 20 September is about Food Waste. Come for a short food waste get-together with speakers and nibbles, followed by the award-winning doco ‘Just Eat It’ – 6pm to 8pm (C Block). It’s free and non-UC folk are welcome too.

Thursday 21 September, tour two Tiny Houses built by UC alumni. The Tour leaves at 1.30 (meet Katie at Science Road Car Park), back at 4pm. Booking essential, email ecoweek@canterbury.ac.nz. Later on Thursday, Cowspiracy screening by VCUC. Kirkwood, 6-8 pm.

Friday 22 September, learn about where to find free food on UCUntitledcampus when you join the Edible Campus Tour! Meet tour guide and community gardener Jane Aistrope outside Café 1894 at 12 noon sharp. Later, come celebrate student and staff achievements in sustainability at the 2016 Sustainability Awards ceremony! Undercroft 101 – 5.30pm to 6.30pm.

Saturday, UC’s very first Sustaina-ball presented by the UC Eco Club Network, and the theme is Garden Party. Visit here for more information.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz