The Department of Conservation wanted an environmentally friendly building – one which would testify to its commitment to the value of conservation.

Conservation House won the Sustainable Building Award at the 2006 Govt3 Awards for its new offices in the former Hoyts movie theatre complex on Manners Street in central Wellington. The building was redeveloped by The Wellington Company into what is being recognised as one of the most environmentally-friendly office buildings in New Zealand.


The Wellington Company has sought to recreate, rather than recycle, a disused cinema complex, turning it into an enhanced state-of-the-art 'green' building.

It utilises the most advanced sustainable ventilation and energy-saving strategies, such as replacing conventional air conditioning with highly efficient, noiseless, active chilled beams – the first such use in Australasia.

Sustainability is paramount, even during construction, when waste was sorted on site and minimised.

  • Active chilled beam air conditioning system.
  • Centralised atrium providing natural light and air-flow.
  • Rainwater collection and recirculation to water plants and flush toilets.
  • Double-layer glass fa­ade to allow natural air-flow, air conditioning or mixed-mode operation.
  • Daylight dimming and motion sensors combine to give an energy-efficient lighting system.
  • Sustainable internal fittings, including Ontera carpet tiles for easy replacement of individual tiles as needed.
  • Heat pump water system.
  • PVC-free roller blinds.
  • Low VOC formaldehyde materials.

The Wellington Company has created a building which provides an environmentally friendly, energy efficient, sustainable building that provides a conducive environment for staff to produce their best work and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.


The building utilises a number of passive, mechanical, and staff behaviour strategies to promote energy efficiency.

The mixed-mode ventilation system combines natural ventilation strategies with active chilled beams. The chilled beam air conditioning system has been designed to be a major contributor to reduction in energy consumption. Exposed concrete ceiling surfaces are used as thermal mass to absorb the excess heat generated during the day and ventilation is used to flush the building at night. The double-skin glazed fa­ades not only minimise energy losses and consumption, but also allow people to view and understand the natural ventilation and heating systems in operation.

A Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) provides energy-efficient control of all the lighting, including automatic daylight dimming of the lights and presence detection. T5 high-efficiency, low-mercury lamps and solid-state long-life LED lamps are used throughout the building, minimising not only energy consumption but reducing the environmental impact of end-of-life disposal.

Hot water is heated using heat pumps, which also capture waste heat from the building to increase efficiency.

A networked Building Management System (BMS) monitors, adjusts, and manages the electrical and mechanical systems. Working in conjunction with the DALI lighting controls, this is the most sophisticated networked system in New Zealand.


Rainwater is collected from the building roof and walls, stored in a tank in the basement and used for 77% of non-potable demand such as flushing toilets, cleaning and supplying the water feature on the roof. Sensor taps have been installed, which conserve water use and energy.


Materials have been specified that have low emissions of volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde to reduce internal air pollutants. These materials include the MDF, paint, and floor coverings. The use of PVC is avoided wherever possible; an example is the use of linoleum instead of vinyl for bathroom floors. Where possible, Environmental Choice NZ products have been specified, such as Laminex MDF, Resene paints, and Forbo linoleum. The timber used is from sustainable plantations and includes Tasmanian Oak and Victorian Ash.


The allocation of space for recycling has been incorporated into the building's layout. All utility areas and kitchens have separate bins for paper, organic, inorganic, glass, plastic and metal waste.


"Employees will not be using their lungs to filter toxins in the air in this office environment."

The building is naturally ventilated. Fresh air supplied from the rooftop comes down through the atrium and return air moves by convection back up to the rooftop through the void between the two layers of external glass. The use of chilled beams has been shown to increase the indoor air quality, and produces no noise. In fact, background noise is added (pink noise) because the building is too quiet.

The amount of natural light entering the building has been optimised by the floor-to-ceiling atrium and the large perimeter windows. The glass-roofed atrium allows natural light to penetrate deeply into the floor plates. The lighting system is designed to react to this natural light and automatically dim individual light fittings to provide a more comfortable and natural working environment.


To encourage staff fitness and the use of sustainable transport, a large bicycle park, as well as shower facilities, is located in the building. The main stairs have been designed to be plainly visible and easily accessible to encourage staff to use them in preference to the lifts. There is also a well-serviced bus stop outside the main entry providing an alternative to individual passenger vehicles.

© 2012 The Wellington Company Ltd


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