Sustainability at Council

1. Overview

Sustainability is at the core of our vision for Upper Hutt: 

‘We have an outstanding natural environment, leisure and recreational opportunities, and we are a great place for families to live, work and play.’ 

As part of our vision, we have four community outcomes that guide our activities; environment, social and cultural, economy and infrastructure. 

What this means is, we consider looking after our environment and our people as vital as having reliable infrastructure, and a prospering local economy. Put together, the four community outcomes are central to Upper Hutt being a thriving success.  

Find out more about our vision and community outcomes for Upper Hutt.


2. Sustainability Strategy

Upper Hutt City Council adopted Sustainability Strategy 2020(PDF, 4MB) in June 2020.  It will be reviewed every three years.  The Strategy was developed through consultation with the community, the UHCC Climate Change Focus Groups, local experts, and international frameworks.   

As part of the Strategy we have developed eight goals that will set Upper Hutt up to prepare for the future through minimising our environmental impact, remedial action, and leadership.  The eight goals of the strategy are listed below.  Click on the pink drop down to find out more about each of them.  

Climate change focus groups

The Climate Change Focus Groups were established to assist Council in the development of the Sustainability Strategy.  Two focus groups were developed – a youth group and a general group.  Both had a significant input into the development of the strategy, and the strategy goals.   

The groups consisted of members of the local community.  Members have wide ranging backgrounds, and are passionate about mitigating the effects of climate change in Upper Hutt.   

Now that the strategy has been developed, the general Climate Change Focus Group still working with Council.  The group meet no more than once a quarter to give feedback, suggestions, and test ideas as we roll out the Sustainability Action Plan. 

Council's eight sustainability goals:

Click on each goal to find out more.

1. Carbon reduction

Goal 1: Council will be a carbon neutral organisation by 2035

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is key to combating climate change, and slowing down the rate of global warming.


At a global scale, New Zealand is one of 197 countries signed up to the Paris Agreement.  Adopted in 2015, the agreement commits countries to take action on climate change.  Specifically, it aims to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world, so the increase in global temperature is less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.  It also requires countries to look at ways to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. 

Each country in the agreement has been assigned a ‘Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)’.  The NDC is a specific, relative goal for individual countries to achieve.  New Zealand’s NDC is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and will apply from 2021.  You can read more about the Paris Agreement and New Zealand’s responsibilities.

In order to meet the NDC deliverables, the New Zealand Government have responded by introducing a host of new initiatives that will assist us in reducing our greenhouse gases.  These include: 

So what does all of this mean for Upper Hutt?  At Council, we have committed to being a carbon neutral organisation by 2035, 15 years ahead of the national target of 2050.  Our plan is to reduce our emissions as much as we can, and offset remaining emissions through sequestration opportunities, such as planting and/or carbon credits. 

Where to start?

Firstly, we need to understand what our emissions are, and where they’re coming from.  Once we know that, we can manage them, and work towards minimising them.  We have undertaken two corporate Greenhouse Gas Inventories; one for the 2018-2019 financial year(PDF, 702KB), and then a second for the 2021-2022 financial year(PDF, 634KB) .  These reports have given us a good indication of where we can make some changes.  We 

We’re kicking things off by focussing on specific areas to begin with: the energy we use, our buildings, our fleet, and our procurement.  We need to make sure that we are proactive in ensuring we are generating as few emissions as possible.  Making good decisions now will help us have a more stable, dependable future. 

Community carbon footprint

As a leader in the community, we encourage everyone to do what they can to minimise their carbon footprint. There are several ways to see what the opportunities are to reduce carbon:

  • FutureFit can help you reduce your personal carbon footprint. 
  • Gen Less has some great tips to reduce your carbon footprint too.

2. Natural environment

Goal 2: We will prioritise protecting and enhancing our natural environment

Our natural environment is critical to maintaining our healthy, functioning society.  Consider the evolution of how we live; without a viable, stable, natural environment there is no society.  Without society, there is no economy.  We think the natural environment is so important, we’ve made it one of the key performance indicators in our Long Term Plan.   

The natural environment includes a number of key factors; the health of our waterways, soil, wildlife, flora and fauna.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on the bird population in Upper Hutt, as the abundance of birds gives us a good indication of the state how it's going; healthy bird life indicates low predator numbers, good nesting conditions, and reliable food opportunities. 

Each year, our Parks and Reserves team work with Forest and Bird Upper Hutt on native planting initiatives to help regenerate biodiversity in Upper Hutt.  Next time you’re at the Akatarawa River Reserve, or Birchville, Moehau, Tulsa, Harcourt or Trentham Memorial Parks, check out the native future-forests we’re growing.  

3. Water supply

Goal 3: We will have a good quality and sufficient water supply

Having a continuous supply of quality water is essential for all life forms.  Water supply is a multi-faceted and complex issue, involving many considerations and challenges. 

We need to ensure we have safe drinking water, manage demand, manage waste water and its emissions, maintain the integrity of the infrastructure network, and minimise leakage whilst ensuring the environmental integrity of water sources. 

Find out more about water.

4. Resilient and inclusive community

Goal 4: Our community will be resilient, adaptable and inclusive

Our community is the heart of Upper Hutt.  The more resilient, adaptable, and inclusive the community is, the more Upper Hutt will prosper.  Resilient communities are strong; when times are tough they help each other through, and they recover quickly when required.  We need to make sure our community is resilient, adaptable to change, and inclusive so no one gets left behind. 

The strength of our community is dependent on strong connections and good support systems.  When individuals basic needs are met, people live with better self-worth, actively engage, and contribute to the local society.  Essentially, a thriving community results in a thriving Upper Hutt.   

With this in mind, we’re working towards building a stronger community; we want to empower our youth, increase civic participation, and endeavour to ensure our residents have access to fulfilling jobs that stimulate the economy without unnecessarily compromising the environment. 

5. Leadership

Goal 5: Upper Hutt City Council will be a leader in the community on sustainability issues

Council will take a leadership role in the community with regards to Sustainability.  On behalf of the Upper Hutt community, Council will actively look for opportunities to strengthen our sustainable position, and will lobby for sustainability issues that will affect us in the long and short term. 

In the first instance, we will ensure sustainability is considered throughout all Council decisions, policies, plans, projects, grants and papers.  We're working to ensure sustainability is proactively and inherently embedded into Council culture. 

6. Waste

Goal 6: We will reduce waste

Waste is a big problem, worldwide.  Humans are producing too much waste, and it’s not being contained properly.  Waste is polluting our waterways, rivers, oceans and our land.  It is leaching into our soils, affecting our wildlife, and contributing to air pollution. 

In 2017, Council adopted the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2017-2023 (WMMP) to deal with solid waste (rubbish).  The WMMP acts as a guide for our waste minimisation activities, and sets the priorities and strategic framework for managing waste.  The overall goal of WMMP is to reduce waste to landfill from 600kg p/person to 400kg p/person by 2026.  

Recycling and disposing of waste should be the last possible resort, and we recommend that waste is refused in the first instance, or eliminated in by an alternative method - check out the waste pyramid below. Find more about waste.

Visualisation of waste management

7. Education and communication

Goal 7: Our community will be engaged and informed on sustainability issues

The Upper Hutt community is a key stakeholder to ensure our progression in sustainability issues.  We are partnering with our community to instigate change through education and communication.  We’ve got a host of projects underway. 

Find out more below:

8. Transport

Goal 8: We will encourage low carbon transport

Upper Hutt has a lot of residents that choose to live distant to the workplace, and commute.  As a consequence, road congestion and delays are increasing, particularly during peak commuting times. 

As a leader in the community on sustainability issues, we will actively promote walking, cycling, and the use of public transport.  We’re going to be working on a new Upper Hutt Walking and Cycling Strategy, and are advocating for cost-effective, reliable and efficient public transport systems. 

You can find out more about lower energy transport on the EECA website.



3. Our Sustainability Plan 2021-2024

We have mapped out the first three years of our Sustainability Plan to focus on the Sustainability Goals 1, 2, 4 and 6 which is aligned to funding in the Long Term Plan.  Like all good plans, it is flexible enough to change if required, when opportunities present.  

YEAR 1: 2021-2022 Gathering data

Year one will be spent gathering information, so we have some solid evidence to base decisions on that will create the best future for Upper Hutt.  Our outputs will include: 

  • Development of a Council Corporate Emissions Reduction and Mitigation Plan 
  • Development of a Climate Change Risk Profile for Upper Hutt 
  • Development of a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation plan for Upper Hutt 
  • Development of a Youth Strategy 
  • Development of a Walking and Cycling Strategy 
  • Initial planning and investigation of Urban Farms 
  • Development and delivery of the Sustainability Stimulus Grant 
  • Delivery of the Environment and Waste Minimisation Fund 
  • Delivery of the Eco Design Advisor program 
  • Support for the Wellington Region Climate Change Forum 
  • Promotion of waste minimisation  
  • Promotion of water conservation 
  • Promotion of healthy families 
  • Delivery of tactical urbanism  
  • Delivery of the Enviroschools program 
  • Delivery of the annual bird report  
  • Development of a sustainability communications plan to help promote sustainable groups, services and opportunities. 

YEAR 2: 2022-2023 Gathering data and implementing findings

Year two will be spent implementing the findings from year one, and continuing with some information gathering, including: 

  • Development of a 10 year ecological restoration plan
  • Investigation into water sensitive design opportunities, and sustainable building practice education opportunities
  • Review of the UHCC Sustainability Strategy 2020 against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals |
  • Implementation of the Corporate Emissions Reduction and Mitigation Plan
  • Implementation of the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation plan
  • Complete a corporate greenhouse gas inventory
  • Commencement of the Council Retrofit Program
  • Update council asset management plans
  • Delivery of the Sustainability Stimulus Grant 
  • Delivery of the Environment and Waste Minimisation Fund 
  • Delivery of the Eco Design Advisor Program 
  • Support for the Wellington Region Climate Change Forum 
  • Promotion of water conservation. 
  • Promotion of healthy families 
  • Delivery of the Enviroschools program 
  • Continuation of work on the investigation of an urban farm 
  • Delivery of the annual bird report 

YEAR 3: 2023-2024 Implementation & delivery

Year three will be focused on delivering the findings from the studies in year one and year two. 

  • Implementation of the Council Corporate Emissions Plan 
  • Implementation the Council Retrofit Program 
  • Implementation of the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation plan  
  • Investigation into sequestration opportunities 
  • Initiate delivery of the Council ecological restoration plan 
  • Delivery of the Sustainability Stimulus Grant 
  • Delivery of the Environment and Waste Minimisation Fund 
  • Delivery of the Eco Design Advisor Program 
  • Support for the Wellington Region Climate Change Forum 
  • Promotion of water conservation. 
  • Promotion of healthy families 
  • Delivery of the Enviroschools program 
  • Delivery of tactical urbanism 
  • Delivery of a speaker series 
  • Continuation of work on the urban farm 
  • Delivery of the annual bird report

Measuring our success

  • We will measure our success through: 
  • Monitoring our energy use  
  • Monitoring awareness through the annual survey 
  • Completing corporate greenhouse gas inventories 
  • Reviewing the Strategy through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 
  • Key Performance Indicators listed in the Long Term Plan 
  • The annual bird survey