Case of the month - Christchurch


Cristchurch Central Recovery Plan
Christchurch (New Zealand)
Christchurch City Council

Released in 2012 (on going)
Territorial scope
City of Christchurch 

Target buildings  




Public buildings

 New buildings    

Private buildings
 Existing buildings
 Industrial, services, etc.

Main Targets 



  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 (measured against 2008 levels) and halving them by 2050;
  • Reducing waste production by 65% by 2020;
  • Introduce an energy grant scheme that can help city’s building investor and owners cover up to 30 per cent of capital plant costs per project;
  • Promote pilot projects to support the inclusion of home performance improvements according with new enhanced green standards.



The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan emerged as a response to the devastating earthquakes that occurred in 2010 and 2011 and destroyed 75% of the city’s central business district and damaged some surrounding neighborhoods. Released to the public in 2012, it is part of the overall Recovery Strategy for Greater Christchurch:, a comprehensive package put in place by the Christchurch City Council, in order to support a more sustainable rebuild of the targeted area. The design concept for the Recovery Plan blueprint is to develop a greener and more accessible city with a compact core and a stronger built identity, making it a great place to live, work, play, learn and visit. It also intends to create a city for all peoples and cultures, recognising, in particular, Ng?i Tahu heritage and places of significance.

Despite the city’s green building program cover the entire municipal area, this plan has a particular focus in the center of the city, including a wide range of approaches that put together the community and industry education, advisory services, incentives and grants, industry engagement campaigns, standard setting, exemplar demonstration projects and civic leadership through example and direct investment to deliver on the future city desired by the community. It was the result of a participatory approach that included an extensive stakeholder engagement campaign based in the “Share an Idea” expo that generated 106,000 comments from the general public and wider communities;  roadshows;  public hearings; an International Speaker Series; and a design challenge hosted at Lincoln University.

Christchurch - a green city 

The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan provided a framework for redeveloping the city centre, attracting investments from central and local governments and private sector. Framed in the basis of four key themes - a green, prosperous, vibrant and acessible city -, it is the result of a large consultation (more that 100 000 suggestions were presented by civil society in  general) and the advice from professional institutes, interest groups and community organizations, reflecting aspirations of Christchurch population. This plan presents, therefore, a green approach that allowed the city to receive, in 2013, a World Green Building Council's Government Leadership Award, in the Urban Regeneration category.  

Christchurch has seen in its recovery plan the opportunity to build green, providing to its inhabitants healthy and resilient buildings, alongside the development of green spaces. Among the different measures proposed, Christchurch has focused on sustainable construction, through various incentives, best practice demonstrations, leadership, standards and building assessment tools, based on the recognition of potential endogenous sources for energy production, industrial sludge’s, sewage and landfill gas, wood waste form the demolition of earthquake-damaged buildings and solar energy).

BASE (Building a Sustainable Environment)

In addition to the Green Star environmental building assessment tool implemented nationally since 2007 in order to address the environmental impact of construction activities, building design and performance during the planning stages, the New Zealand Green Building Council has developed an introductory-level green building assessment tool specifically for the Christchurch Central City rebuild, called BASE (Building a Sustainable Environment). Addressed specifically to assist small and medium-sized buildings (commercial office space and mixed-use buildings),  BASE is a important rating tool and program, to provide to all city’s building investors and owners a set of new green building practices and standards specifically designed for the Christchurch recovery efforts, and also comprises an energy grant scheme to encourage the use of renewable energy and advanced energy efficiency measures that covers up to 30% of capital plant costs per project.  Designed to be achievable for all investors and owners, the buildings standards covered by this tool are required to address some criteria within five categories: site, services, comfort, facilities and materials.

Build Back Smarter

The Build Back Smarter is a pilot project that aims to promote the inclusion of home performance improvements in the ‘standard’ repair of earthquake damaged Christchurch homes, without slowing down the rebuild process. By identifying solutions for potential barriers, the project intends to be up scaled and used city-wide, through the support of home owners in making appropriate repairs and new build choices as well as innovative and adequate choices of funding. It also aims to assist with installations that make homes warmer, dryer, more affordable to heat and more water-efficient.  One of the most important parts of the project is the installation of wall insulation in damaged walls that need to remain straight and aligned. Although wall insulation can be costly and complicated to install (especially when done from the inside) it will make a big difference to the energy efficiency of a house.

Pave the way to a Green Pledge

Christchurch City Council with the aim to attain a leadership in developing green buildings will create a Green Pledge, which will include a website and resource pack to help showcase community demand for Green Star buildings.  The resource pack will collect local case studies together with helpful resources for developers, tenants and residents to encourage green buildings developments. The Council will also play a demonstrating role and deploy whenever possible, the design and construction of new public facilities that are at least five Green Stars (or equivalent) as determined by the New Zealand Green Building Council. Te Hononga, Christchurch City Council’s Civic Building, rated with six Green Stars, will be the pilot and demonstrating project of this concept.