Refurbishments - optimising the work environment
The primary goal of our property strategy is to provide a quality work environment for staff to ensure both their well–being and scientific productivity. At the same time, we aim to rationalise our property portfolio, optimise occupancy, maximise effective use of resources and minimise waste.
While there is no Green Star rating available for specialist science facilities, the principles are applied throughout the planning and construction, including on-site waste management.
We invest in infrastructure to support the delivery of world-class science. Such investments support the delivery of our Impacts and National Outcomes and so are aligned to our Core Purpose with benefit for New Zealand. Research undertaken in purpose-built specialist laboratories contributes to our reputation for science excellence. Where relevant, we also provide fee-based services (to cover costs) from these laboratories to clients, mostly in central and local government. Such services are not readily available from the private sector.
We moved our Palaeoecology Laboratory at Lincoln from the Godley Building to the Fleming Building. In conjunction with this, we constructed a new Ancient DNA Laboratory, and an associated preparation room and cool store. ‘Ancient’ samples can include anything from 100-year-old herbarium specimens through to sediments and soils that are thousands of years old. To avoid cross-contamination, work with ancient DNA requires ultra clean facilities that are located well away from other areas where DNA is or has been handled. Previously we had to undertake this work overseas adding significantly to the cost of such research. The applications of ancient DNA research are wide-ranging but a high-profile example is using DNA extracted from coprolites (preserved dung) to understand the diet and ecology of extinct moa.
As well as supporting palaeoecological work, the lab can be used as a ‘clean room’ for other sensitive DNA extractions (e.g. for forensic analyses, or to identify material for MPI). The facility at the University of Auckland previously used by EcoGene® will close soon so the new laboratory will ensure continuity of service.
Our ‘state of the art’ plant pathogen and invertebrate transitional and containment facility in Auckland was opened in November 2012.The facility is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. It removes our dependence on overseas facilities to complete work on plant pathogens, and is allowing new projects to be undertaken. As well as weed biocontrol studies, the facility is also suitable for safely undertaking research into exotic plant pathogens that pose a threat to native flora (e.g. kauri dieback PTA) and the primary sector (e.g. kiwifruit Psa bacterium).
Our staff make significant contributions to the design of specialist facilities. Their input ensures the infrastructure is truly fit for purpose and able to meet future needs. Where possible (within the constraints of containment requirements) facilities comply with our sustainability principles, e.g. energy and water efficiency and environmentally-friendly fit-out.
New office furniture must meet sustainable criteria of being recyclable or consisting of recycled materials, and produced in a sustainable way, and we have refurbished existing furniture to reduce our resource use.
Office building alterations and refits have met the target requirement to maximise effective use of our resources and minimise waste. We continue to use sustainable products and materials in all projects, such as Entropy RE Interface carpet tiles, low VOC adhesives and timber from sustainably managed forests. Enviro-paints are always used, including repaints of building exteriors.