Creating our living building

When we decided we needed a venue to provide a space for learning, workshops, and to host some truly awesome events, we knew that this couldn’t be any old building. In fact, we wanted it to be Aotearoa’s most sustainable.

Enter the Living Building Challenge, a green-building certification programme and sustainable design framework that aims to guide buildings to give more than they take. The programme consists of seven ‘petals’: place, water, energy,  health and happiness, materials, equity, beauty. 

Through this framework, we set out to create ‘The Flagship’. The building aspires to the Living Building Challenge standard in the following ways. Click the link in the heading for more information on what each petal stands for.

Health & Happiness

Inspired people are a core part of our vision at Sustainable Coastlines. As an event venue and education centre, The Flagship contributes to human enjoyment and fulfilment.

To enable people to thrive we have to give them the best environment possible. All materials used in the construction of The Flagship are non-toxic, and we provide safe, chemical-free drinking water. We also strive to improve air quality — indoor and out — through insisting on a non-smoking environment and planting species known to improve air quality. Our living roof removes nitrogen oxide pollution equivalent to that produced by seven cars a year.

Beauty

A living building also needs to be beautiful in order to foster harmony in our urban spaces and inspire people to look after the ultimate source of beauty: our natural world. 

The Flagship has been designed to reflect and allow in as much of the natural world as possible. Despite the structure’s industrial beginnings as shipping containers, the use of natural and recycled materials as well as the abundance of plants mean that it is a beautiful place to occupy. We believe we have far exceeded our goal of improving on a space that was once 18 car park places.

Materials

As well as ensuring that the materials used in The Flagship are not detrimental to human health, we are also conscious of the impact construction materials and the construction process itself have on the environment.

Eight-five percent of the materials used in The Flagship are recycled. The structure itself was reverse-engineered around specific beams to allow us to use them in its construction. Other sections were supplied by a local mill and galvanised with use of a natural element, giving old steel a new life. While it opened in 2017, most of The Flagship’s core structure is more than 60 years old! 

The recycled shipping containers that constitute the bulk of the event space are lined with reclaimed pallets, which were also used for the interior flooring. The deck is made from salvaged railways sleepers and locally milled macrocarpa logs. We also de-nailed more than seven kilometres of salvaged timber to create the roofing purlins. 

On top of that, The Flagship has been designed so it can be deconstructed and completely reused on a new site.

Place

The Flagship is located on land that was once ocean and an important shellfish harvesting area for the ancestors of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. It’s now an area that’s going through one of the biggest urban regenerations in Aotearoa, from an industrial port to a place where people can live, visit, be entertained, and do business. 

The Flagship, as an education centre and events venue, aims to reconnect people to the area’s origins — the ocean. Apt for the ever-changing nature of Wynyard Quarter, The Flagship is able to be entirely deconstructed and moved to a new site in the future.

Equity

As a charity we strive to be truly inclusive, involving people from all walks of life and actively fostering community in our core activities, and we intend the same for our education and events space. 

The Flagship is accessible and open to everyone. It’s been visited and used by schools, corporate groups, other non-profit organisations, as well as those who see us from the street and want to check out what we’re about. We actively welcome people to The Flagship as part of our outreach in our core programmes. 

The Flagship project also involved a significant partnership with the Department of Corrections, providing prisoners the opportunity to learn new skills and contribute to a community project. Corrections workers processed more than 2,500 pallets for our floor and welded the basins for our wetland from offcuts from the event space. 

We educated prisoners at Paremoremo and the Northern Regional Correctional Facility, motivating them to participate in training programmes with a community output. We were proud to welcome many of the prisoners’ families to The Flagship when it opened, to show off their fantastic work.

Energy

To achieve Net Positive Energy certification, The Flagship needs to generate 105% of its energy needs. 

First, we made sure our energy usage was as low as possible. Alongside using energy-efficient appliances as economically as possible, we installed double glazing to minimise cold and heat transfer.

To generate our power, we partnered with Vector, who generously installed a battery and solar-power system. Watch the video to see how it works.

Water

To respect water as the precious resource it is, and to achieve Net Zero Water certification, we have implemented three key initiatives at The Flagship. 

We collect our drinking water from the roof of our toilet block. It runs through a living roof and is gravity-fed into a storage tank before being pumped through a four-stage filtration system. Our drinking fountain has an extra filter, meaning that anybody passing by can fill up their bottles with perhaps the most delicious drinking water in town!

We also treat our grey water on site. To do this, we took inspiration from nature and installed our own wetland! Wetlands act as natural filters and can remove a range of pollutants from the water. Our above-ground wetland treats our grey water, sending it back into the municipal system with as little contamination as possible.

Treating our own black water on site is another key to Net Zero Water certification. How do we do this in a carpark in downtown Auckland? With the best composting toilets available in Aotearoa! As we couldn’t dig, our loos sit high above the ground, giving plenty of space for the aerobic bacteria to entirely break down the waste, meaning that nothing is sent off site.