Camp Glenorchy, the first ever guest accommodation designed according to the Living Building Challenge™ (LBC) - the most rigorous sustainability standards in the world - welcomed guests to this spectacular, rural location at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu for the first time in March.

Materials chosen for the construction of this unique facility underwent rigorous scrutiny before being approved for use. Firth’s Certified Concrete® topped the list for concrete supply due to the concrete receiving a ‘Declare’ label in 2017 when Firth became the first ready-mix and concrete masonry manufacturer in the world to acquire Declare labels for its Certified Concrete® and concrete masonry product ranges. 

 Building Challenge2

Camp Glenorchy was designed, built, engineered and is operated in line with the philosophy and principles of the Living Building ChallengeTM which requires seven ‘petals’ of sustainability discipline - including energy, water, materials and beauty.


Tricia Love, the Living Building Consultant introduced to and brought on to bring about the Camp Glenorchy ‘vision’ by Paul and Debbi Brainerd - philanthropists who have previously established environmentally-sensitive, community-based education projects in North America - was struck by the Brainerds’ passion and desire to create the unique facility. 

  “We started investigating products and materials right from the start,” Tricia says. “The aim was always to use as much salvaged and recycled materials as we could. We did select certain materials because of their energy efficiency - which also had to be compliant with the materials ‘Petal’. We also had to weigh up functionality, availability and servicing for maintenance once the camp was open. There were a number of factors but compliance with the materials ‘Red’ list was a major driver.” 


 A total of between 600 -700 products were investigated for use. “Our first port of call on any new project is always to go for products that have a Declare label,” says Tricia.

 “I know Firth very well and they have always been very helpful when it comes to support and information on mixes and ingredients in their concrete,” she adds. “It was an easy choice to go with Firth for all the concrete requirements as their concrete has the Declare label. All the beautiful polished concrete floors, with some including river stones, are using Firth’s Declare label concrete. The outside paths and foundations are Firth supplied concrete.  They do look stunning.” 

 “For Firth having the Declare label means we can collaborate better with our suppliers, distributors and our customers to recognise how we can design and build for the future to include durability, longevity and provide a sustainable pathway to repurpose our products, as we have with Camp Glenorchy,” says James Willoughby, Head of Environment, Health & Safety for Firth.

 Tricia says that the Materials petal of the LBC is recognised as the most difficult of the requirements to ensure that products don’t include chemicals on the Red list and, if they do, they must become approved for use. “It is a very time consuming and potentially costly process but worth it when projects like Camp Glenorchy open to the public and become sustainable places of enjoyment and learning.” 

Camp Glenorchy Last Pic


More on Camp Glenorchy: 

“Camp Glenorchy aims to educate, inspire and delight guests by showcasing some of the most innovative and energy-efficient products in the world,” says co-Founder Paul Brainerd. “One example is our commitment to achieving Net Zero energy use. Our large solar garden, smart lighting, energy-efficient building designs and highly-efficient heat systems reduce energy demand while creating a comfortable and enjoyable experience for our guests.” 

State-of-the-art composting toilets are expected to save about 300,000 litres of water per year, and LED lighting used is so efficient that the lighting load for each three-bedroom cabin is equivalent to a single 200-watt light bulb. An innovative heating system which uses ground-source heat pumps, deep heat bores and solar thermal collectors means Camp Glenorchy gets almost $4 worth of energy for every $1 spent running it. 

All profits from Camp Glenorchy go to the Glenorchy Community Trust, directed by leaders of the local community to support initiatives that enhance the liveability and vibrancy of Glenorchy.

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Principal:                                      The Headwaters (Camp Glenorchy)

Living Building Consultant:     Tricia Love Consultants

Location:                                      Glenorchy, Otago

Product:                                       Firth Declare labelled Certified Concrete®