It's more than 15 years that I've now been working for Greenpeace, and normally my work involves making the near impossible high profile projects happen on budgets that are way too small with human resources that are far too few. This is the lot of the Environmental NGO dependent on supporters money. The need to be accountable to our membership is high and we have to squeeze as much out of your dollars as we possibly can. We cannot do this work without the dedication and commitment of our volunteers and of the generous support of the wider constituency that supports the work that Greenpeace is doing on behalf of the planet.

The new office refit for the new Greenpeace HQ here in Auckland is a project that is no different to this, and although we are not working in the field in Indonesia or the Southern Ocean the same principles apply. We cannot do this sort of field work without the offices.

The challenge for me to deliver this within the budget I've been given reminds me so much of any of these field projects. This has meant that I've had to embark on an extensive round of consultations with suppliers, tradesmen and of course have had to look at the Greenpeace membership database in search of qualified people to help try to bring this in on budget and on time.

Currently we are not doing too badly, but no doubt we can do better, and it's not any old building project either, we need to do everything we can to showcase sustainable building practice and products as I've outlined in previous posts. To this end discussions have been had and are on going with many suppliers to assist us in not only doing the best we can for the environment but also to highlight these practices and products.

From the folks at Biopaints in Nelson who specialise in non toxic and sustainably sourced pigments to the guys at Metro Glasstech who'll retrofit high quality double glazing into the main office spaces we are certainly moving forward. These are but a couple of companies who are donating and substantially reducing costs for us to be able to get to our goal.

I've also been in discussions with suppliers of wool based insulations, solar hot water and solar PV, passive airflow venting, acoustic treatment materials among others and these negotiations continue.

Many discussions have also been had with qualified tradespeople like electricians, builders and plumbers, a lot of them from the Greenpeace membership database and we are getting some very good results. Hourly rates during the working week we are currently halving from the normal rates and obviously this is going to save us a lot of money. Of course we cannot expect everyone to provide us with free qualified labour all of the time. The pressures and rising costs of everyday life prevent this of course, but plenty of these folk are able to donate time in the weekends and plans are coming together for crews of people to do exactly this.

Process wise the resource consent required for Greenpeace to operate here has been granted by Auckland city council, this application was mostly required due to parking issues. In the Auckland district plan an organisation of our size needed to provide 25 car parking spaces for our staff. For us this was something that we needed to show arguments that we did not require as we chose the building specifically because of it's proximity to both train and bus routes. The responsible organisation seeks to reduce the reliance on private transport for commuting into the CBD and this is what we actively do within Greenpeace NZ policy. We talked to the city council about this and proved to them that the provision for this amount of parks was unnecessary for an organisation that actively seeks to reduce outdated modes of transport like the motor vehicle and encourages people into public transport. It is simply environmentally responsible and they agreed. Thank you Auckland city for seeing this.

The building consent for the major works in the building is currently pending, and with luck we hope to have most of the outstanding issues related to the project resolved within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime we are concentrating on building a works programme (as well as a budget) for when we get the consent through, and of course there are some small things that we can do in the meantime like remove old partitioning, wiring and and the generally cleaning the place up.

More as it happens,

- Rob