The Sustainability Society is a Learned Society established to foster sustainability engineering. The Society provides training and fosters dialogue on sustainability through workshops, seminars, forums and international conferences. It takes a complex systems approach to sustainability, recognising that human and natural systems are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Formed in 2003 (as NZSSES), The Sustainability Society is a Technical Interest Group of the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ). The Sustainability Society is the new name for NZSSES, having rebranded in July 2011.

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Upcoming Events

Infrastructure Sustainability workshops

Hamilton Thursday 7 May
Wellington Friday 8 May

More info

To express interest in The Society running a workshop for your organisation or region contact sarah@thesustainabilitysociety.org.nz




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Water Sensitive Wellington

In September 2014, The Sustainability Society hosted an inaugural Water Sensitive Wellington Forum bringing together a diverse group of water leaders from across the Wellington region.

Download the summary of this Forum which was created to capture the insights and ideas generated and will be used to stimulate further exploration of a Water Sensitive Wellington in the future.

Next Water Sensitive Wellington event:

Thursday 19 February 2015, 7:15 – 9am

RSVP to sarah@thesustainabilitysociety.org.nz


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Sara Parkin – Forum for the Future

Radio Interview – Sara Parkin
An environmentalist who was in the advance guard of the Green movement in the UK. Download: Ogg Vorbis | MP3

Presentation download now available:
Sara Parkin Auckland Conversations presentation – Wednesday 18 November
Sustainability Literate Leadership
(13.2MB PDF)

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Dr Ron McDowall ONZM on Radio New Zealand

Feature Guest – Dr Ron McDowall
Auckland engineer Ron McDowall is an expert on sustainability and toxic waste management. He’s worked around the world in dangerous conditions, as a UN specialist scientist/engineer working in the area of sustainable development in developing countries and travels the world on UNEP missions. His consulting focuses on sustainable technology design and toxic chemical waste (33′29″).
Download: Ogg Vorbis | MP3 | Embed

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Upcoming Events

Infrastructure Sustainability Workshops – Waikato and Wellington

This one day workshop is an opportunity to actively contribute to the exploration of what is needed to achieve greater integration of sustainability into infrastructure planning, procurement, delivery and operation in New Zealand. The Australian based ISCA Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) framework, an existing well researched and widely utilised tool, will be offered as a platform for this discussion.


When:  Thursday 7 May, 9am – 4:30pm

Where: Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, 59 Higgins Road, Dinsdale, Hamilton


When:  Friday 8 May, 9am – 4:30pm

Where: Beca, Aorangi House, 85 Molesworth Street, Wellington

Infrastructure Sustainability workshops May 2015 more info

To book a place

We are very pleased to be partnering with Beca to bring the Infrastructure Sustainability workshop to Wellington:


‘Beca welcomes the opportunity to partner with The Sustainability Society on this initiative.  We see great value in helping raise awareness of new tools that advance best practice in project design through whole of life assessment, underpinned by sustainability thinking and concepts. The academic underpinning of the ISCA tool, plus its track record in Australia and more recently in NZ is very relevant across all infrastructure sectors with potential to deliver important benefits.’

+ Forum – Crushed Recycled Concrete An Under-utilised Resource

Crushed Recycled Concrete: An Under-utilised Resource

A joint meeting sponsored by IPENZ Auckland Branch, Engineers for Social Responsibility and the Sustainability Society

Crushed Recycled Concrete is an important resource for roading and drainage.  It is readily available in Auckland from a number of crushing plants in a selection of grading sizes.    The principal speaker will be Dr Bryan Pidwerbesky from Fulton Hogan followed by short addresses from Andy Finch of Auckland Transport, Peter Ward of Ward Demolition, Graham Collie of Atlas Concrete, PhD Student, Nazanin Ardalan and Warren Snow of Envision NZ.

When:   Wednesday 10 June, commencing at 5-30pm
Where:   Room  403.403 School of Engineering , University of Auckland,  20 Symonds Street

Crushed Recycled Concrete Forum more info

RSVP to sarah@thesustainabilitysociety.org.nz by Monday 8 June

Background material

2012 Pidwerbesky et al Sustainable Pavement Design CSM
Recycled Road Paper NZIHT 05
ARRB Glass Recycling paper 2008

+ Forum #45 – Energy Forum: Smart Grid Vision 2050 POSTPONED NEW DATE COMING SOON

Energy Forum: Smart Grid Vision 2050

Late last year the NZ Smart Grid Forum, established by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, presented a vision for 2050:

In 2050, NZ will have leveraged the opportunities made available from emerging smart grid technologies and practices to the benefit of electricity consumers and New Zealand’s prosperity and productivity as a whole.

The Sustainability Society would like to invite you to join us at our upcoming forum to explore this Smart Grid vision with the input of leaders within the industry:

  • Alison Andrew – Chief Executive, Transpower
  • Mike Underhill – Chief Executive, EECA
  • Rob Whitney – Chief Science Advisor, CRL Energy

When: Friday 20 February 2015, 9am – noon POSTPONED NEW DATE COMING SOON
Where: University of Auckland City Campus
What: Free public forum
Register your interest

Past Events

+ Water Sensitive Wellington Breakfast Seminar

Water Sensitive Wellington Breakfast Seminar

Following on from the successful inaugural Water Sensitive Wellington event in September last year, this forum brought together leaders from across Wellington’s regulatory and infrastructure spheres to explore the nexus between local, regional and national governance in support of a water sensitive future. Panellists provided insights into the perspectives and vision of their respective organisations as they relate to integrated water management.

Panellists include:

  • Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Wellington City Council
  • Colin Crampton, Chief Executive, Wellington Water
  • Alastair Smaill, Whaitua Project Leader, Greater Wellington Regional Council
  • Sam Thomas, Analyst – National Infrastructure Unit, Treasury

Download audio of event here

Order of proceedings (Introduction: Stu Farrant, Presentations: Mayor Celia Wade-Brown 7:30 – 33:00 , Colin Crampton 34:00 – 46:00, Alastair Smaill 46:00 – 56:00 , Sam Thomas 56:00 – 1:08, Summary: Caleb Clarke)

When: Thursday 19 February 2015, 7:15 – 9am
Where: GBLT 2 Lecture Theatre, Old Government Building, 55 Lambton Quay
What: Free public forum with presentations followed by panel discussion with audience.

+ Forum #44 – The Resource Management Act: The Potential Future of Our Environment

Will the proposed changes to the RMA continue to protect our environment?  This forum explored the potential impacts of the proposed RMA reforms compared to the original intentions of the RMA and the experience of its implementation over the last 20 years.

Also under discussion was other opportunities and challenges that exist around the RMA regulation, particularly how it can best be adapted, interpreted and applied in the future.

Presenter downloads:
Ken Palmer, Assoc Professor of Law, University of Auckland – Resource Management Act Forum

Quentin Duthie, Executive Manager Research – Analysis, Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Improving our Resource Management System
Changing Climate and Rising Seas
The Environment – What Matters Most

Karyn Sinclair, Principal Planner, Jacobs Engineering

When: Thursday December 11, 9am – noon
Where: Rm 1.439, Engineering School, University of Auckland, 20 Symonds St, Auckland Central
What: A public forum with presenters providing different perspectives on the proposed RMA reforms and the future of RMA.

More info

+ A Sustainable New Zealand in 2114: 100 year visions

The Sustainability Society invited our network to imagine what a sustainable New Zealand could look like in 100 years.

In a year where IPENZ has celebrated the last hundred years, what better time to challenge ourselves to ask ‘What about the next hundred years?

We often talk about the fundamental shifts in mindset and systems that are required for us to move forward sustainably and innovatively as a country, so we have asked our members to bring those potential futures to life in vibrant colour.

When: Wednesday December 3, 5:30 – 7pm
Where: Level 0, Owen Glenn Business School, University of Auckland, 12 Grafton Rd, Auckland Central
What: Free public event – Punchy member presentations of their visions for a sustainable New Zealand in 2114 preceded by drinks and nibbles

+ Forum #43 – Water Sensitive Wellington

Water Sensitive WellingtonWānanga Whakaaroaro Wai

The Wellington region is poised for transformative change in response to evolving policy and the expectations that our built environment must be better managed to protect and sustain our natural environment. The question is, What do we need to do to proactively facilitate this change and embed Water Sensitivity into an integrated future vision for the region?

Complex problems such as this call for multi-disciplinary and collaborative responses. This inaugural Water Sensitive Wellington forum brought together engineers, planners, designers, scientists, iwi, academics, developers and project sponsors to develop a shared understanding of the aspirations, opportunities and hurdles which make water management in Wellington such a unique challenge.

When: Tuesday 9 September, 9am – 1pm
Where: Dowse Gallery, 45 Laings Rd, Lower Hutt

Presentation downloads:

Reina Solomon, Resource Management Advisor, Te Rūnanga O Toa Rangātira – A Tangata Whenua Perspective
Megan Wraight, Director, Wraight and Associates – WSUD Forum
Dr Paul Blaschke, Lecturer, University of Otago Wellington – Science in Support of a Water Sensitive Wellington
Hayley Vujcich, Environmental Policy Advisor, Wellington Regional Council – Regional Stormwater Policy Direction
Stu Farrant, Southern Sector Manager, Morphum Environmental – Implementation of Infrastructure and Strategies to Support a Water Sensitive Wellington

Download a summary of the Water Sensitive Wellington Forum discussion.

Morphum EnvironmentalThanks to Morphum for their sponsorship of this Forum.

+ Forum #42 – Transport: Breakthrough technology in Electric vehicles

Forum #42 – Transport: Breakthrough technologies

Thanks to Professor Grant Covic, one of the world leaders pioneering the development of inductive power transfer (IPT) technology who joined us to discuss the history and future of his work to develop innovative systems where IPT is used to charge electric vehicles.

Winner of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize in 2013, Grant talked about ways in which he works to address both the ‘here and now’ issues of today alongside maintaining a focus on blue sky research with the potential to unlock significant shifts in how we live.

Watch Professors Grant Covic and John Boys talk about their work here

When: Thursday August 14th, 5:30 – 7pm
Where: Beca Auditorium, 21 Pitt St, Auckland Central

More info

+ Forum #41 – Water Sensitive Cities – Hamilton

Forum #41 – Water Sensitive Cities Forum – Hamilton

Date: Tuesday 13 May 2014
Time: 9am – noon
Where: Te Runanga O Kirikiriroa, 57 Higgins Road, Frankton

This forum explored water sensitivity in the context of Hamilton both currently and into the future.


Glen Tupuhi – Acting CEO, Te Runanga O Kirikirioa
Tim Manukau – Tainui Environmental
Charmaine Petereit – Smart Water
Prof Iain White – University of Waikato

More info on Water Sensitive Cities Forum 13 May 2014

+ Forum #40 – Water Sensitive Cities – Auckland

Water Sensitive Cities – Auckland

Date: Friday 13 December 2013
Time: 9am – noon
Where: Rm 401, Engineering School, University of Auckland

Presentation downloads:

Roseline Klein, Sustainability Manager, Watercare – Contributing to a Water Sensitive Auckland – Water Demand Management
Asaad Shamseldin, Researcher, University of Auckland
Nicola Green and Sam Blackbourn, Stormwater Unit, Auckland Council – Water Sensitive Design in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan
Briony Ferguson, Researcher, CRC Water Sensitive Cities Centre, Monash University – Transitioning to Water Sensitive Cities

More info on Water Sensitive Cities Forum 13 December

+ Forum #39 – Resourcing and Sustainability for Auckland’s High Density Housing

Resourcing and Sustainability for Auckland’s High Density Housing

When: Thursday 28 November 2013
Time: 9am – noon
Where: Beca Auditorium, Ground Floor, 21 Pitt St, Auckland Central

Presentation downloads:

TSS Housing Forum Summary November 2013

Anthony Flannery, Architect, Urban Designer and Director, Reimagine – Man vs. Wild
Uche Isichei, Principal Advisor – Design, Housing NZ – Sustainable Social Housing in NZ
Joel Belsham, Researcher, University of Auckland – Pursuing the Kiwi Dream – Implications for Urban Auckland

For more information on the Housing Forum 28 November 2013

+ Forum #38 – Looking at Transport Systemically: Movement and Liveability

Looking at Transport Systemically: Movement and Liveability

Date: Wednesday 30 October 2013
Time: 9am – noon
Where: Beca Auditorium, 21 Pitt St, Auckland Central

Presentation downloads:

TSS Transport Forum October 2013 Summary

Peter Clark, GM Strategy and Planning, Auckland Transport, Integrated Transport Programme
Matt Lowrie, Auckland Transport blog and The Congestion Free Network
Bevan Clement, Transport Research Associate, University of Auckland Sustainability and Transport

This forum explored the vital role that transport plays in Auckland’s future liveability and prosperity. Policy, research and community perspectives were offered on the current activity, development plans and future potential within the Auckland transport system.

Transport in the news 22 October 2013, NZ Herald

+ Evening Seminar – How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities And Our Lives

How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities And Our Lives

Transforming Cities logo

Date: Wednesday 4 December 2013
Time: 5:30 – 6:30pm
Where: Rm 439, Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland, 22 Symonds St, Auckland Central

Co-hosted by Transforming Cities and The Sustainability Society, this event featured international public transit consultant Jarrett Walker discussing his experiences and ideas from his book in terms of how they could be applied in the context of Auckland’s transport system.

More info – Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Seminar

+ Forum#37 – Green Infrastructure: Opportunities for Liveability

Green Infrastructure: Opportunities for Liveability

Hosted by The Sustainability Society and Transforming Cities

Date: Friday 13 September 2013
Time: 9am – noon
Where: University of Auckland Engineering School, Rm 403, Level 4

Presentation downloads:

Carol Boyle and Stephen Knight-Lenihan Greening Infrastructure
Paul Chambers Green Infrastructure – Opportunities for liveability

This Forum featured presenters Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, Dr Carol Boyle, Dr Stephen Knight-Lenihan and Paul Chambers offering their perspectives on the policy,research and practice involved in integrating green infrastructure into Auckland’s future development.

Click here to download a full description of the Green Infrastructure Forum

+ Evening Seminar – Modelling a City: Using Data to Engage Communities

Modelling a City: Using Data to Engage Communities

Hosted by The Sustainability Society and Transforming Cities

Date: Monday 5 August 2013
Time: 5 – 6:30pm
Where: University of Auckland Engineering School, Rm 403-402

Sean Audain from Wellington City Council offered a richly visual presentation showcasing the work that he and his team are doing to model the city in order to engage the community and support civic decision-­making.

Click here to download a full description of the seminar: Modelling a City

+ Forum #36 – Sustainability: Costs, Measurement and Returns
Forum 36: Sustainability: Costs, Measurement and Returns

Date: Wednesday 24 July 2013
Time: 9am – noon
Venue: Rm Room WT1103, WT Building, AUT City Campus,
Corner of Wakefield and Rutland St, Auckland Central (AUT City Campus map)

Presentation downloads:
Nick Main presentation – Nick was previously Global Managing Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change Services, Deloitte
Alan Dayeh presentation – Alan is Manager Strategy, Implementation and Reporting, Netbalance Sydney
Sarah Holden presentation – Sarah is Senior Manager Sustainability, Westpac NZ

These experienced practitioners offered their perspectives on the local and global trends, research and practice of integrating sustainability into organisational and societal strategy, decisions and impact.

Click here to download a full description of The Sustainability Society 24 July 2013 Forum

Thanks to AUT for their support of the event venue.

+ Forum #35 – Visions of a Liveable City

Forum #35 – Visions of a Liveable City
Date: 8th March 2013
Time: 9am – noon

What: Visions of a Liveable City
Presenters Dr. Ir. Ron McDowall, Dr. Niki Harre and Geoff Cooper gave their different perspectives on what a liveable Auckland would really look like and what is critical to consider in developing a roadmap towards developing liveability.
Where: WA Conference centre (WA224), Auckland University of Technology City Campus, Main entrance 3, 55 Wellesley Street East

We acknowledge AUT in its support for this event through providing us a venue.

Presentation downloads:
Niki Harre – The lovable city and how we get there (840KB PPTX)
Geoff Cooper – The World’s Most Liveable City (12.9MB PPTX)
Ron McDowall – Foresighting (9.2MB PPTX)

Click here to download a full description of this forum (394KB PDF)

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