Research Projects 2011

A critical evaluation of housing intensification strategies and urban growth policies in Auckland

Housing Intensification Strategies researchers
Principal Investigator, Errol Haarhoff (left) with Lee Beattie, Regan Solomon, Jenny Dixon, Larry Murphy and Ann Dupuis.

Principal Investigator: Professor Errol Haarhoff (Architecture and Planning)
Professor Jenny Dixon (Architecture and Planning)
Professor Laurence Murphy (Property)
Lee Beattie (Architecture and Planning)
Associate Professor Ann Dupuis (Massey University, Sociology)
Regan Solomon, Advisor (Auckland Council)

Higher density housing developments, located close to public transport hubs, are a key strategy used to prevent suburban sprawl and achieve more sustainable urban development. International experience suggests that market and consumer resistance to high density lifestyles is problematic and can undermine the success of growth management strategies. This project examines whether recent transit-oriented housing developments in Auckland are meeting the resistance found elsewhere, and the extent to which this may be a problem in meeting urban sustainability objectives. This research is part-funded by the Auckland Council and will be used as a basis for policy advice to the Council on its urban growth strategies. 

For further information please contact Errol Haarhoff


Auckland’s solar renewable energy potential: An innovation for a sustainable city

Solar Potential researchers
Principal Investigator, Hugh Byrd (centre) with Nirmal Nair and Basil Sharp.

Principal Investigator: Dr Hugh Byrd (Architecture and Planning)
Professor Basil Sharp (Economics)
Dr Nirmal Nair (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

This project investigates the photovoltaic (PV) solar potential of the residential, commercial and institutional built environment in Auckland. This distributed solar potential could supplement Auckland’s increasingly vulnerable electricity supply and partly offset rapid increases in energy demand. Auckland has witnessed the economic loss and social costs of electricity blackouts before. In the future, blackouts (total or partial) may be caused by an inadequate electricity supply affecting businesses, infrastructure, food supply, health care and individual homes. Auckland requires a more resilient electricity supply to mitigate any future risk of power rationing.

The first stage of the research involves the making of a three-dimensional model of a slice through Auckland from the CBD out to the suburbs and assessing the renewable energy available. The expected results of this research will benefit all communities in Auckland including individual householders, Auckland Council’s Spatial Plan and the electricity supply industry.

For further information please contact Hugh Byrd

Byrd, Hugh (2012) The Solar Potential of Auckland Transforming Cities, The University of Auckland. Download 2.4MB

Byrd, H., Ho, A., Sharp, B., Kumar-Nair, N. (2013) Measuring the solar potential of a city and its implications for energy policy. Energy Policy, Volume 61, October 2013, 944–952.



Water in the sustainable city: An art-science-education collaboration for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Water in the Sustainable City researchers
Back row: Rose Martin, Rebecca Wood, Clark Ehlers, Charlotte Šunde (Principal Investigator) and Carol Brown. Front Row: Kathy Waghorn, Katie Fitzpatrick and Alys Longley (Principal Investigator). Absent: Gary Brierley.

Principal Investigators: Dr Charlotte Šunde (National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries) and
Dr Alys Longley (Dance Studies)
Dr Carol Brown (Dance Studies)
Kathy Waghorn (Architecture and Planning)
Professor Gary Brierley (School of Environment – geomorphology)
Dr Clark Ehlers (School of Biological Sciences – microbiology)
Dr Katie Fitzpatrick (Critical Studies in Education)
Rosemary Martin (Dance Studies)

This innovative arts-science collaboration investigates water in the sustainable city. Critical to the ongoing sustainable development of the city is the need for widespread public education and social awareness of the current and potential resources of this place; an understanding of our relationships with those resources; and recognition of our connection to other places beyond the city’s periphery. The group will devise a series of urban installation and performance works that bring to light the material, technical, social, cultural, spiritual and economic dimensions of water in Auckland city. Researchers and postgraduate students will gather different water stories drawn from a range of knowledge sources. The creative works will be presented at a number of sites in Auckland this year with the intention of generating widespread public education and social awareness around the different values and dimensions of water in the city – including "hidden"waterways: the cultural and mythological stories associated with water, subterranean fluids, and the infrastructural network of piped waters. They aim to motivate ecological stewardship and create experiences that enhance the quality of life in our city.

For more information about the project and some of the outcomes go to


Transforming Auckland’s transportation system into a resilient, environmentally-friendly and health-enhancing system with a spatial decision support system

Transport project researchers on bridge overlooking motorway
Principal Investigator, Judith Wang (centre) with Kim Dirks, Jennifer Salmond, Seosamh Costello and Matthias Ehrgott.

Principal Investigator: Dr Judith Wang (Engineering Science)
Professor Matthias Ehrgott (Engineering Science)
Dr Seosamh Costello (Civil and Environmental)
Dr Jennifer Salmond (School of Environment)
Dr Kim Dirks (School of Population Health)

This project aims to improve sustainability in transport in the Auckland region by developing a spatial tool to enable informed transport decisions. The tool will allow policy decision makers to use multi-criteria analysis to evaluate transport in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability. Public users of the same system gain information on time, monetary cost, vehicle emissions, pollutant exposure and an appropriate health index (based on exercise level and pollutant exposure along the route) for a selected route on different transport modes. The tools developed in this study will support sustainable decisions made by policy decision makers as well as users, enabling Auckland’s transportation system to be transformed into a resilient, environmentally-friendly and health-enhancing system.

For further information please contact Judith Wang


The greening of Auckland

Greening of Auckland project researchers on The University of Auckland's Green Roof
Principal Investigator, Carol Boyle (centre front) with Stephen Knight-Lenihan, Bruce Burns, Will Thresher, Elizabeth Fassman and Luitgard Schwendenmann.

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Carol Boyle (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Dr Stephen Knight-Lenihan (Urban Planning)
Dr Bruce Burns (Biological Sciences)
Dr Elizabeth Fassman (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Will Thresher (Thresher Associates Ltd)
Dr Luitgard Schwendenmann (School of Environment)

Green infrastructure has the potential to add value and increase the resilience, sustainability and liveability of Auckland. "Green infrastructure" refers to natural and engineered ecological systems that are integrated within the built environment to provide the widest possible range of ecological, community and infrastructure services. It includes infrastructure aimed at managing stormwater, reducing energy use and carbon emissions, and improving adaptation to climate change. This project will identify opportunities for urban transformation and new development across a demonstration area in the Central Business District, selected in collaboration with Auckland Council. Using 3 dimensional Geographic Information Systems technology, the project aims to model potential transformations for improving amenity value and environmental, social and economic benefits. It is anticipated that the strategy will help achieve the goals of the Auckland Council’s Spatial Plan to increase green spaces throughout Auckland and to transform it into the world’s most liveable city.

For further information please contact Carol Boyle

Greening Cities
(8.5 MB, PDF)

The 2010 funding round supported four projects:

  • Active transport to reduce carbon emissions in Auckland: Health effects, equity, barriers and facilitators
  • Anchor organisations, sustainability and new forms of leadership in transforming Auckland
  • The place of diverse ethnic communities and business innovation in transforming Auckland
  • Transforming Auckland into a bicycle-friendly city: Understanding factors influencing choices of cyclists and potential cyclists

More about the 2010 projects ...