Tūranga, Christchurch City Library

02 November 2020

A new chapter : New Zealand’s first green library

The top-notch environmental credentials of Tūranga, Christchurch’s flagship central library have been awarded a 5 Green Star Design certification.

Project Snapshot

  • What: Tūranga , Central Library - the flagship library for the Christchurch City Libraries network, supporting 19 community, digital and mobile libraries.
  • Where: 60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch
  • Occupancy: 60 staff in the building at any one time - 110 full and part-time employees
  • Visitor numbers: approximately 2600 per day
  • Project status: Completed October 2018, two year build
  • Project cost: $92.7 million
  • Project certification: 5 Green Star Custom Design


  • Owner: Christchurch City Council
  • Architect: Architectus in association with Schmidt Hammer Lassen’
  • Service engineer: Powell Fenwick Consultants
  • Main Contractor: Southbase Construction Ltd
  • GSAP: Scott Waller, Powell Fenwick Consultants
  • Quantity surveyor: AECOM
  • Acoustic Consultant: Marshall Day Acoustics


    One of the first public buildings in New Zealand to achieve a high-status 5 Green Star Design rating, Tūranga sits centre stage as an energy-smart civic project and demonstrates the Christchurch City Council’s drive for a sustainably built city.

    Its occupants might be keeping quiet, but the five-storey library has plenty to cheer about.



    Overlooking the iconic Cathedral Square, the five-storied Tūranga replaced the city’s former central library, which was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake. With its design shaped by the rolling Port Hills and fronds of harakeke, it includes a light-filled multi-level atrium, a raft of flexible spaces, work studios, a café and a 200-seat arena. Upper openings provide a window to culturally significant sites around the city, allowing those visiting the library to explore the local landscape.

    “After the devastation of the February 2011 earthquake it was important the community had a real say about the way the central city would be developed. People told us they wanted a greener city and the buildings to be sustainable - Tūranga is certainly that,” Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

    Since being completed in October 2018, the library hosts 60 staff at any one time, and has approximately 2600 people visiting each day.

    “I’m incredibly proud of this place and what it means to the people of Christchurch. Its 5 Green Star rating is the icing on the cake and a step towards helping the council meet its target of being carbon neutral by 2030.”

    Tony Moore, the Council’s Principal Advisor Urban Design, Urban Regeneration and Heritage, said the Council wanted Tūranga to be a special place in the heart of Christchurch.

    “We want it to reflect our unique city, to help chart a more sustainable future, to tell our story as a modern 21st century city and to provide leadership for others around sustainable design. Delivering a beautiful Green Star certified public library encompassing many local cultural references was a great way to do this.”


    The Christchurch City Council has declared a climate and ecological emergency, and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

    “A whole-of-council resource efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction programme is being rolled out to reach our goal. The construction of high performance buildings like Tūranga is an important part of our work.”

    He said committing to Green Star from the outset helped set expectations for the design and build.

    Green Star has a clear criteria to follow with reporting requirements so everyone had a real understanding of the Tūranga vision and what was to be achieved. Green Star fosters smarter building, more resource efficiency, energy and water savings, lower running costs and a healthy work environment for everyone.”

    For architect Carsten Auer, Director Principal at Architectus, embedding Green Star early in the project contributed to the building’s success.

    “I commend the Christchurch City Council for the way in which it laid the foundations for Tūranga’s success - through its extensive brief development, its engagement with the community and its partnership with iwi. It has translated into the design and build of a public library which is a brilliant example of sustainability.”



    Quin Henderson, CEO of lead contractor Southbase Construction Ltd, said although it was a challenge the team found building green provided opportunities to think outside the box and innovate.

    “It provided us with a platform to educate our supply chain about sustainable construction and material selection. In some cases, we influenced suppliers to seek-out sustainable solutions including material sourcing. Having the project awarded with a Green Star rating, validates these efforts.”

    The design rating credited the project for targeting the re-use or recycling of over 70% of building and demolition waste.

    “We were delighted to be involved in a project that has had such a positive impact for our community. Cantabrians can be proud in the knowledge that Tūranga has been designed and constructed using environmentally-sustainable materials and practices.”

    The design and build can boast of a number of sustainable features including high performing glass, responsibly sourced timber, water and energy efficiency monitoring, and automatic solar blinds to help keep things cool during summer.

    For those working there, like Guy Field, Team Lead of Hapori – the library’s community floor, it’s a welcome space.

    “From bike parking and shower facilities through to generous natural light and effective heating and cooling systems, Tūranga is an extremely pleasant and comfortable working environment. Natural wood finishes, a variety of flexible workspaces and the feel good factor of working in a truly green building combine to make a positive contribution to the enjoyment of my work day.”

    Tony Moore says Green Star has an important role in driving innovation, assessing performance, and celebrating success throughout Aotearoa.

    “The New Zealand Green Building Council is helping to spearhead change within the building sector. It develops tools and approaches to help designers and builders reach standards that allow all Kiwis to enjoy healthy, high performance homes and buildings for generations to come.”


    Tūranga’s green features include:

    Technical features include:

    • Building is wrapped in a high performance, low – E and argon filled double glazing reducing heat loss and summer heat gain.
    • Lighting systems with extensive controls, daylight dimming and occupancy sensing.
    • Automatic external solar control blinds significantly reducing the need for summer cooling.
    • Low internal noise levels.
    • Water efficient sanitary fittings and fixtures.
    • Responsibly sourced timber.
    • During construction over 70% of building and demolition waste re-used or re-cycled.
    • Reduced car parking spaces.
    • Provision of end of trip cycling facilities for staff and cycle parking for visitors
    • Energy modelling showed that Tūranga would use 72% less energy and emit 72% fewer GHG emissions than a comparable building.
    • A water-sourced heat pump / chiller connected to artesian bores has an energy coefficient of 4.8 (480% efficient) compared with a typical air-source heat pump at 3.0 (300% efficient).
    • Electrical sub-metering and energy monitoring in operation.
    • Exhaust riser to reduce impact from equipment-related sources of internal pollutants on occupant health.
    • Zero ozone-depletion potential (ODP) refrigerants and insulants.
    • Low global-warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.
    • Reduced peak storm water flows.
    • Building has large dampeners to help absorb energy and prevent damage from earthquakes.