Worms and old tyres - Auckland Council building hailed as a world-leader in sustainability

A central Auckland high rise is winning praise as a world leader in sustainability with worms in the basement and old tyres in the kitchen.

Auckland Council has undertaken an eco-refit of its building, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy bills. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Council has undertaken an eco refit of its building, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy bills.

The 31-storey building actually houses up to two million staff, if you count the 78 worm farms in the basement. 

They consume 19 tonnes of food waste per year, producing plant food for employees like Claes Sandstrom to put in his garden.

"On every level where we have the kitchen, we have a special bin where we put all our leftovers. It's a bit like what we do at home and so it's that feeling where you're not throwing everything out," Mr Sandstrom said. 

And the building's green features extend beyond composting. The floors are made of recycled tyres and recycled carpet, and the kitchen is fitted out with low flow taps and four star energy rated appliances. The newly installed LED lights in the ceiling also have motion detectors. 

During its construction, 85 per cent of the waste that was produced was either recycled or sold, rather than sent to landfill. 

It's good for both the folks here but also for ratepayers - Auckland Council chief sustainability officer John Mauro

The $53 million refit is saving around $300,000 a year, which is about 40 per cent of the building's energy costs. 

Auckland Council's chief sustainability officer John Mauro says it's also made the building a better place to work. 

"The setup of the office works for people. It keeps people happy and keeps people productive. You see that in things like workplace retention. You see that in terms of decreased sick days and absentee days. It's good for both the folks here but also for ratepayers,” Mr Mauro said. 

The building's green features have earned the Council a six green star award from the New Zealand Green Building Council, meaning it's a world leading project.

Other six star rated buildings include the Christchurch City Council's Civic Centre and Auckland's Geyser building. 

But the Green Building Council says the Auckland council building is unique because it wasn't a new build, proving a sustainable building doesn't need to be built from scratch.

The Green Building Council says it hopes others will see the benefits and follow suit to create more working environments that benefit the natural environment.