​​​​The Sustainability Principles

In December 2015 Council undertook a sustainability stocktake that presented the breadth and depth of actions that support sustainability undertaken at Hamilton City Council.

Council resolved on 19 July 2016 to adopt a set of Sustainability Principles that would underpin how sustainability is considered in the Council's decision making and operations.  The principles are:

Sustainability Principle 1: Council includes environmental, economic, social, and cultural considerations in its decision-making criteria
Sustainability Principle 2: Council uses its position as a city leader to educate and influence the wider Hamilton community to embrace sustainability
Sustainability Principle 3: Council anticipates and acts to prevent or mitigate environmental degradation where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage
Sustainability Principle 4: Council works with central government to deliver on national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and supports resilience to climate change in our communities
Sustainability Principle 5: Council promotes walking, cycling, public transport and other low carbon transport options
Sustainability Principle 6:Council works to improve the resource efficiency and health of homes, businesses and infrastructure in our city
Sustainability Principle 7: Council supports the use of renewable energy and uptake of electric vehicles
Sustainability Principle 8: Council ensures that it understands, prepares for and responds to the impacts of climate change
Sustainability Principle 9: Council is an integral part of regional efforts to restore and protect the water quality of waterways
Sustainability Principle 10:Council works with its communities to minimise the production of waste and maximise opportunities to recycle
Sustainability Principle 11: Council is an integral part of regional efforts to restore and protect biodiversity in Hamilton City​

The sustainability principles are intended to guide Council to help deliver a sustainable Hamilton through its role as:

  • A regional leader
  • A provider of regulatory and planning functions
  • A provider of city infrastructure
  • A provider of public services
  • A good corporate citizen

The annual stocktake of sustainability actions

Council committed to embed the principles into the operation of Hamilton City Council and to produce an annual sustainability stocktake to outline the actions being undertaken to support the principles.  Many of the actions are delivered in partnership with key stakeholders and the community.

The actions are also associated to one of the sustainability elements below.  The focus of Council in addressing this element is stated.

Climate change

  • Reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels
  • Prepare Hamilton for the impact of climate change
  • More efficient use of energy through efficient sub-divisions and buildings
  • Replacing energy from fossil fuels with energy from renewable sources
  • Address carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles
  • Greater focus on alternative transport options
Land use
  • Focus on densification strategies that support minimises distances for infrastructure and encourages alternative transport modes
  • Focus on the protection and restoration of Hamilton's native biodiversity
  • Management of Hamilton's rivers, streams, wetlands, gullies and other water resources to protect water quality against the impact of pollution
  • Focus on reducing waste, promoting recycling and reducing leachates, heavy metals and emission of greenhouse gases.
Sustainability Stocktake

Sustainability Principle 1: Council includes environmental, economic, social, and cultural considerations in its decision-making criteria

To ensure that the Sustainability Principles are embedded into the business of Council key decision making processes where sustainability should be considered have been identified.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 1

Decision Making ProcessAction
Activity Management PlansThe Activity Management Plans and Asset Management Plans inform the 10 Year Plan and Infrastructure Strategy Plan.  The templates for Activity Management Plans and Asset Management Plans have been updated to include a list of questions that prompt the consideration of the sustainability principles.

Business Cases


The Business Case template is currently being reviewed and a sustainability section will be included in the new format.

Council has made green purchasing part of its Procurement Policy and Procedures. These guidelines provide information on what goods to avoid and which suppliers to approach.  Specifications cover recycled content and recyclability, packaging, biodegradability, energy, water and natural resource use, toxicity, durability/reparability, and performances and cost.

Council Reports

A revision to the Council reporting template is due in May 2017 and this will include a sustainability principle section.


Sustainability Principle 2:  Council uses its position as a city leader to educate and influence the wider Hamilton community to embrace sustainability

Council seeks to engage and influence stakeholders' behaviour through a range of programmes.  

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 2

Council Role/Element​

Climate changeCouncil provide funding to support the Enviroschools (Toimata).  This programme supports children and young people to plan, design and implement sustainability actions.
 Hamilton Gardens provides an environmental educational resource.
BiodiversityThe Community volunteer coordinator role at Council supports community planting programmes by providing education about planting, facilitates funding for planting projects, provides restoration advice and supplies plants for volunteers to plant.
 Council supplies plants and coordinates an annual planting day (Arbour Day) at Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. In 2016, 1500 volunteers took part, planting 20,000 plants.
 At Hamilton Zoo, the Zoo keeper talks, education material and the Zoo website include conservation/environmental messages.
WaterThe Council is part of the Smart Water Programme which is a subregional shared services initiative with Waikato District and Waipa District Councils' that aims is to change the way people think about water and the way they use water.  The Smart Water website encourages smart water use. 
 Council supports the Smart Water Education in Schools Programme which aims to increase water literacy in our young people.
 Council supports the annual Smart Water Summer Campaign which aims to increase the community's awareness on the need to conserve water over summer. Council runs pre-summer awareness communication through media releases, radio advertising and web site information.
 Council provides information [MP2] to property owners about their stormwater responsibilities to ensure environmental protection, flood hazard mitigation and prevention of the discharge of inhibitory / toxic / dangerous substances in to the wastewater network.
 Council commissioned the smart water mural on the Maeroa Reservoir l to inspire smart water use.
WasteCouncil provides information [MP3] to educate the public on the need and methods to reduce the amount of waste generated.

Sustainability Principle 3: Council anticipates and acts to prevent or mitigate environmental degradation where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage

Council has a responsibility to protect the environment from any negative impacts that could result from its operations and development of the city. The Council fulfils this responsibility by the management of air discharges, stormwater, wastewater, tradewaste discharges and through the protection of biodiversity.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 3

Council Role/Element

Climate changeCouncil provides emergency response to local flooding and spill events.
Land Use

The District Plan is one of the main tools for the sustainable land management of Hamilton City. The District Plan encourages densification which supports sustainability through:

  • Minimising distances for water, waste and energy infrastructure
  • Encouraging less use of cars, in favour of walking, cycling and public transport
  • Protecting the productive capacity of agricultural land
  • Conserving native biodiversity in the city

Large scale subdivision and development proposals are required to carry out integrated catchment management plans (ICMP) and water impact assessments (WIA). These detail water demand, proposed water-sensitive techniques, benefits, operation and maintenance – to ensure on-going water efficiency benefits. Smaller subdivisions and developments are required to carry out a WIA. 

 Hamilton Park Cemetery complies with its air discharge consent and the requirement for 5 yearly monitoring of mercury in the soil around the crematorium and in the water at the unnamed tributary of the Mangaone stream. Council continues to carry out the required environmental testing and report this to Waikato Regional Council.
 From 1920 to 2008 Council provided landfills for the city's use at Rototuna, Cobham Drive, Willoughby and Horotiu.  These landfills are now closed and Council manages these sites for leachate and gas discharges in line with the resource consents for the sites.
BiodiversityCouncil has procedures in place for vegetation and tree removal to avoid damage to habitat, to protect riverbank stability and reduce erosion.
 Council runs regular hazardous substance management courses to ensure risk from hazardous wastes is minimised.
 Council manages pest and predator control through the pest plant management programmes.
 As part of the Southern Links developments, an ecological monitoring plan has been developed to address impacts on native birds, fish and animals (specifically bats) and to restore natural habitats.
WaterThe wastewater network is continually monitored and overflows recorded.
WaterCouncil has developed and reviewed the Stormwater Bylaw and the Wastewater and Trade Waste Bylaws (respectively) to ensure they provide guidance on discharges and enable Council to enforce the rules in relation to discharges.​

Sustainability Principle 4: Council works with central government to deliver on national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and supports resilience to climate change in our communities

There are a number of areas the Council can directly influence and support central government to deliver on national emission reduction targets. These are:

  • Encouraging use of energy efficient lighting
  • Encouraging use of public transport
  • Encouraging use of alternative emission free transport – cycling, walking
  • Encouraging a walkable city to reduce emissions
  • Improved and landfill management practices
  • Methane recovery – Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Planting and restoration to create carbon sinks
  • Reducing the amount of solid waste disposed on land
  • Reducing emissions from industrial and domestic wastewater handling

The impact on climate change is a result of actions delivered under the other sustainability principles.​

Sustainability Principle 5: Council promotes walking, cycling, public transport and other low carbon transport options

Council works with the community and stakeholders to raise awareness of travel options and influences travel behaviour through plans, strategies and educational initiatives. Both Access Hamilton and the Biking Plan support alternative transport routes.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 5

Council Role/Element

Climate changeCouncil provide staff bicycle sheds.
 Electric bikes are available for staff from the Transport office to attend meetings off site.
 The Zoo has implemented practices that reduce the use of vehicles for collection of vegetation for animal feed.
TransportCouncil is a partner/stakeholder in the national Let's Carpool website. The website allows commuters to match their travel plans with other people who are travelling.

Council promotes the following programmes:

  • Bikewise Day, an annual cycling advocacy event
  • Cycle Safety Campaign – a programme run by the Road Safety Coordinator.
 Council supports the Happy Feet Programme in pre-schools that encourages caregivers to park and walk a short distance to the pre-school, through the provision of resources, safe route maps and support for events.  There are currently 24 centres participating in the programme.
 Council supports walking school buses with resources, safe route maps and support for volunteers.  Three buses are currently running.
 A Primary School Active Travel Co-ordinator role supports the Safe Routes Programme.
 A Transport Operations Centre Business Case is underway.
 A Preliminary investigation of Rail / Public Transport Interchange in Rotokauri is underway.
 The Western Rail Trail cycleway is under construction.
 Construction is to commence in March 2017 of an underpass to Hamilton Gardens from Hamilton East to improve pedestrian and cycle access.
Land UseThe Hamilton Urban Growth Strategy promotes sustainable city development through a balance of greenfield and brownfield development. The target is 50% brownfield growth and is Council has achieved 48% over the last 10 years.
 New developments are required to provide a Transport Impact Assessment as part of the consent process.  This assessment shows how the development affects the transport network.​

Sustainability Principle 6: Council works to improve the resource efficiency and health of homes, businesses and infrastructure in our city

Council uses a range of regulatory and educational tools to promote resource efficiency across the city.  Within its own facilities, Council has implemented an energy management programme and water demand programme to reduce water loss.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 6

Council Role/Element

Climate change

Council through the Eco Design Advisor (EDA) provides a free service to any resident in Hamilton to provide advice to help people improve the thermal performance of their building. The EDA also consults on water, waste and toxicity issues in buildings. The secondary role is to provide education to the general public and industry through workshops on any of these topics:

  • Energy reduction
  • Thermo performance of homes
  • Water, wastewater and stormwater
  • Waste reduction
  • Health and toxicity
  • Waste construction and toxicity
  • Green technologies
 The increasing use of e-Resources at the Libraries reduces the carbon cost and environmental impact of physical book production, distribution and disposal.

Implementation of the Energy Management plan which aims to achieve a 10% reduction in energy consumption within three years.

In the last three years the Garden Place Carpark and Garden Place Library achieved total energy reductions of 45% and 35% respectively. In the first quarter of FY17 energy use at the Museum has fallen 26% with this expected to improve further when new chillers are installed in March 2017. Overall energy use across Council's top sixteen sites has fallen by 10% compared to our base year July 2011 to June 2012.

  • Implementation of change to reduce Waterworld pool hall fan speed to reduce energy consumption.
  • Implementation of the Lighting Strategy to replace existing lights with energy efficient equivalents (LED lighting) through Council owned buildings.
  • The installation of a new air quality system with variable fan controls in the underground car park to reduce unnecessary energy use.
  • The Municipal offices pump speeds reduced to half flow, reducing pump power by 80% outside of normal offices hours.
  • Museum Fan Control and Building Management System Upgrade (BMS) to manage use of time controlled air conditioning.


  • The Museum Chillers will be replaced with an air cooling unit in March 2017.  It is more efficient, no longer requires R22 coolant and it is a smarter, more adaptable system which should reduce existing chiller use by one third.
  • Use of a chiller unit for cooling the Central Library during summer as a more cost efficient means of cooling.
  • Air-conditioning units are activated by time clock settings that coincide with individual sites operating hours to ensure air-conditioning units are not running unnecessarily. Temperatures are adjusted in accordance with season.
  • Reduce Energy Use through use of variable speed drives (VSD's) on plant.
  • Quick-dry, energy-efficient sensor hand dryers to replace roller towels and old-technology hand dryers.
TransportPartner with NZTA to align major roads, such as Hamilton Ring Road and Waikato Expressway, with city developments and infrastructure to ensure they are designed to efficiently manage road traffic and minimise environmental impact.
 GPS in Council fleet cars to encourage assist with fuel economy and emissions.
Land UseAll burial plots dug to depth to allow two casket burials and four ash interments to encourage more efficient usage of available land.
BiodiversityAt Hamilton Gardens all maintenance yard food scraps are composted in the Sustainable Garden worm bin. Kitchen waste from local restaurants is used in the Sustainable Garden and shredded paper is used in the chicken coop and then used as garden mulch.
WaterThe District Plan promotes efficient use of water through rules which require the incorporation of water efficient measures such as low flow fittings for new developments and the use of non-potable water. 
 Application of water restrictions Level 1 – 4 to manage water consumption and educate the public on water use.
 Mains Renewal Programme to maintain the infrastructure in good condition and mitigate potential water losses in the network.
 Upgrade of the bore water system to a more sustainable option to provide irrigation for the cemetery.
 Improve our service plans, to reduce the number of blockages in the wastewater and stormwater network caused by third party damage.
 Implementation of the Water Loss Programme across the water network to understand and manage network losses. 
 Water conservation measures in place for Turf Services at H3 sites- irrigation reduction and warm season grass type usage.
 Manage storm water and ponds on the Zoo site, including monitoring programme of nutrient and microbial contamination of Zoo ponds.​

Sustainability Principle 7: Council supports the use of renewable energy and uptake of electric vehicles

Council has initiatives that review the energy sources for its facilities.  It is also working with partners to support infrastructure for the introduction of electric vehicles.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 7

Council Role/Element

EnergyCouncil uses "green energy" by maximising biogas electricity generation at the Wastewater Treatment Plan. Bio-gas generated at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) fuels a duel natural gas and bio-gas fired boiler. This can provide up to 95 per cent of the site's heating requirements. Ongoing reliability issues led to the replacement of the old boiler system in June 2016. Subsequently there has been an outstanding improvement in the utilisation of bio-gas. Based on the first quarter results, we expect that by financial year end, just over 1,500,000kWh of natural gas will be displaced by bio-gas with cost savings of $70,000.
 The use of solar water heating is considered where possible as part of routine replacement of existing hot water supplies and new hot water supplies.
 A solar photovoltaic installation has been set up at Hamilton Zoo.
TransportAn Electronic Vehicle charging station is to be installed in the Caro Street carpark in conjunction with WEL.​

Sustainability Principle 8: Council ensures that it understands, prepares for and responds to the impacts of climate change

Climate change is a global phenomenon largely outside Hamilton's control. However, we must be aware of the implications of climate change on the city and prepare for the impacts of climate change events.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 8

Council Role/Element

Climate changeThe District Plan addresses anticipated climate change impacts in Hamilton through flood hazard mapping.  This mapping was based on detailed modelling that factored in climate change effects resulting from increased rainfall volumes and duration. Consideration of these matters during the resource consent process in relation to climate change adaption takes the form of identifying flood levels and overland flow paths and guiding development away from building areas that would be subject to frequent flooding.
 Structure plans determine the pattern of growth and are designed to improve sustainability outcomes through the inclusion of items such as transport corridor general location and hierarchy, public reserves and links, areas for preservation, protection or restoration/enhancement, and development intensities for residential or other activities.
 The Wastewater service is planning for climate change by exploring ways to manage the effects of climate change that is expected to increase the number and frequency of rainfall events, and the amount of stormwater that can enter into the wastewater network during rain events.
 Integrated catchment management plans are required to deal with predicted climate change of warmer temperatures and greater rainfall.
 Street tree species guidelines have been approved and include as a requirement that species selection of park and street trees now takes into account effects of climate change, particularly warmer summers.​

Sustainability Principle 9: Council is an integral part of regional efforts to restore and protect the water quality of waterways

Healthy Rivers' is a proposed Waikato Region Plan change to give effect to the vision, strategy and National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.  It aims to make the Waikato and Waipa rivers and their tributaries swimmable and safe for food collection over a period of 80 years and targets four contaminant types. The Council is currently assessing implications of the proposed water quality targets and how the city will need to respond to these targets. 

The ecological functions of Hamilton's river, streams, wetlands, gullies and other water resources must be managed to minimise the impact of pollution on water quality. As Hamilton grows, there is increasing demand for natural resources and increasing pressure on the natural environment to absorb wastes. 

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 9

Council Role/Element

WaterContinue to protect riparian areas through the requirement to have esplanade reserves and strips along the river and lakes as part of subdivision and development.
 Programme of integrated catchment management plan development which includes assessment of stormwater contaminant loading and best practicable options for contaminant control
 On new development sites avoid water runoff into river.  Storm water is disposed of into an underground aquifer.
 All treated water that enters the River from the wastewater network is to standard water treatment.
 Continue to maintain, renew and retrofit operational storage to ensure dry weather overflows do not occur.
 Provide a wastewater system that is managed in a way that does not unduly impact on the environment by continuously improving asset condition assessment, predictive, and preventative maintenance to ensure assets remain operational.
 Have in place emergency and response plans to manage the overflow, restore the service, and clean up the environment.
 Monitoring of the wastewater network and overflows recorded.
 Actions that encourage restoration of gully systems support this filtering ability of Hamilton's gullies and ultimately improves water quality in the streams that flow into the Waikato River​

Sustainability Principle 10: Council works with its communities to minimise the production of waste and maximise opportunities to recycle

Council has a statutory responsibility to promote effective and efficient waste minimisation. Waste and volumes may be reduced through better waste minimisation techniques, new technologies, and a greater understanding of what may be recycled, what may be reused and changing our waste behaviours.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 10

Council Role/Element

WasteA contestable waste minimisation fund has been implemented and now is in its fourth year of operation.
 Fight the Landfill is Hamilton City Council's waste minimisation brand and householder and community education programme. The programme aims to inform the city about the impact of what you put out on the kerb each week and how it's affecting our environment. It promotes waste minimisation through kerbside recycling collection and resource recovery at the refuse transfer station and organic centre.
 Hamilton Park Cemetery entered into an agreement in 2015 with Speciality Metals Ltd in Christchurch to recycle the remaining metals, with the consent of the family.
 Council is working with the site contractor to investigate how to increase the demand for the Hamilton Organic Centre products.
 Sludge produced from the wastewater treatment process (approximately 12,000 tonnes per annum), is transported to a vermicomposting facility where it is mixed with paper pulp which is then laid in rows where it is left to break down and compost using worms.
 Regular servicing of aerated waste water systems used in areas at the Zoo not serviced by sewer main to reduce contamination .
 Zoo composts animal waste on site and uses on the zoo gardens and/or transfers it for external use
 Installation of new waste and recycling system for the Central Library and Waterworld.
 At the Museum, the sorting of plastic, glass and paper for recycling is active practice. The printing of brochures is kept at minimal levels, with visitors encouraged to return unwanted brochures at the end of their visit. Biodegradable stickers are now produced for paid-entry exhibitions, meaning that if customers drop their sticker on the footpath after leaving the Museum, the sticker dissolves once it rains.
 Shift to the use of eco-friendly products such as water-based paints in exhibition areas at the Museum.
 FMG Stadium Waikato sorts waste and recycles.

Ongoing promotion of the reducing waste to landfill initiative for the municipal building through use of worm bins and recycling options.


 Monitor quantity of recycled materials at Council buildings & report to 6-monthly QSM management meetings.
 Contractors are required to dispose of any building materials/refuse in the most environmentally friendly manner feasible.
 Exchange table provided for staff to bring in excess produce from personal gardens.​

Sustainability Principle 11: Council is an integral part of regional efforts to restore and protect biodiversity in Hamilton City

Hamilton City covers 11,080 hectares and has 1,129 hectares of open space owned and/or administered by Council.  This makes up around 10 per cent of the City's land area. The city has an extensive network of gully systems that are important holders of Hamilton's native biodiversity.  The city's natural areas include remnant forests and wetlands, significant nature areas and streetscape.

Actions that support Sustainability Principle 11

Council Role/Element

BiodiversityThe District Plan provides for the identification and protection of gullies and a Local Indigenous Biodiversity Strategy (LIBS) is being developed in conjunction with the Regional Council to restore nature and connect communities.
 Project Echo - Hamilton City is one of the only cities in New Zealand to still support a resident population of long-tailed bats. Project Echo aims to gather information on bat distribution throughout Hamilton City. This project is supported by Council, Waikato Regional Council, University of Waikato and the Riverlea Environment Society Inc.
 Project Halo - aims to bring native birds, such as tui and bellbirds, back into Hamilton city. The Council is a partner in this project.
 The Open Spaces Plan has input into the subdivision process with developers required to plant street trees as part of their subdivisions, which the Council then monitors. In the last financial year a total of 3200 new street trees were planted.
 Fish barriers are being removed throughout the city as part of the Comprehensive Stormwater Discharge Consent held with Regional Council. 18 have been identified for further action.
 Council have approved the Victoria on the River project to restore land currently used as a carpark to public open space.
 Complete restoration of Mangaiti Gully with assistance of Project Watershed.
 Complete restoration of Manganoa Gully with assistance of Project Watershed.
 Regeneration of native vegetation within Hamilton Park Cemetery Gully Areas.
 Council continues to restore the 60ha Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park and implement the Management Plan. Working with its partners, 26ha of the park has been planted in eco-sourced native plants. Since completing the stocktake in December, Council has approved extending Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park by 5.1 hectares, protecting more land for ecological restoration in perpetuity.
 Habitat assessment – Mangakotukutu Gully: this includes ecological assessment for the wider gully network and will identify concept restoration projects.
 Hamilton Zoo's native animal collection is used to its full potential for New Zealand fauna conservation.
 Procedures in place for tree removal to avoid damage to habitat.
Good Corporate Citizen 
 Ecological restoration - growing plants for the city from eco-sourced seeds at Hamilton Gardens nursey.
 Council's community planting programme supported from the staff volunteer days.
 Honey Bee project - Installed on 3 Council sites (Zoo, Hamilton Gardens and the Taitua Arboretum). Honey is being sold at the Gardens.
Page reviewed: 24 Jul 2017 12:52pm