Bioshading: A Case Study: Fonterra Headquarters

Name of case study

Fonterra Headquarters


Auckland, New Zealand


Completed in 2017


Building/single site

Area / size

The building is approx 2860 m2

NbS employed


Type of NbS

created or constructed living ecosystems






 Jasmax, Engineers: Tensys Engineers, Contractor: Fletcher Construction, Green wall supplier: SRS Group.



Figure 1: Fonterra HQ. Photo: Ronstan International
Figure 2: Fonterra HQ. Photo: Ronstan International
Climate change benefits
  • reduced air quality
  • increased wildfire
  • urban heat island effect
  • increased temperatures
  • Desertification
  • changes in rainfall
  • Changes in phenology
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Energy security
  • Human physical health and wellbeing
  • Pressures of urbanisation
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The use of bioshading to heat and cool the Fonterra HQ is a step in the right direction in large-scale city office buildings. Trends for office buildings have long tended towards tall structures encased in glass and steel, rather than natural materials. As we seek nature-based solutions to grow our cities in healthy ways, bio-shading devices could become a new design trend. 

City centres or business districts are often places filled with impervious surfaces, tall buildings and minimal natural environments. Auckland’s City Centre Masterplan (2020) is an example of how steps can be taken to improve this, and more consideration can be given to nature. The Fonterra HQ sits on the edge of what this plan calls the ‘West Waterfront’ in Wynyard Quarter, an area where the council plans “redevelopment and regeneration” with “mixed use development and green links leading to a flagship new green space on Wynyard Point.” The bio-shading facade can contribute to the wider environmental aspirations for the area, and act as inspiration for future, inevitable development.

Ecological benefits
  • Aesthetic value 
  • climate regulation
  • Education and knowledge

Connection between the natural and built environments creates a city that is enjoyable to live in, as it is constantly proven that human mental and physical health is improved by a connection to the natural environment. 

The Wynyard Quarter area is under constant development, and is being closely monitored by professionals, researchers and developers. It is a focus area for the Council, and as well as being part of the business district, it plays a role in the city’s tourism; it hosts international events and is an area on the waterfront filled with recreational and hospitality experiences. It is a relatively new area in the city, only having been redeveloped from an area to support the ports within the last 20 years. 

Because the area contributes so much to the city’s economy and appeal, there is an easy case to invest in it as it continues to develop. It is undeniable that there will be more buildings both residential and commercial. Fonterra HQ’s bio-shading can serve as an example of how nature based solutions can be implemented in future designs.

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Summary of case study

Fonterra is a dairy co-operative in Aotearoa New Zealand. Their global headquarters building was designed to accommodate 1400 staff in a seven story building in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, in the city centre.

The building was designed by Jasmax, to maximise environmental efficiency. It received 5 Green Star Stars from the NZGBC for base-build design and 6 Green Stars for the interior design. On the east and west facades, a bio-shading device has been implemented to provide natural airflow, heating and cooling. 

The plants were chosen by Natural Habitats, a landscape design company, to ensure they could withstand the urban conditions. Planter boxes are spaced through the levels with a specially designed irrigation system to support the plants’ growth. 

The bioshading device contributes to an energy efficient thermal envelope. An all inclusive system manages the building services, including an electric heating system that reduces carbon emissions, a water conservation system using rainwater harvesting and solar hot water heating (Jasmax, 2024). 

This is an excellent example of bio-shading on a large scale, in a dense urban environment.

Figure 3&4: Fonterra HQ. Photo: Ronstan International
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  • Glick, P., Powell, E., Schlesinger, S., Ritter, J., Stein, B. A., & Fuller, A. (2020). The Protective Value of Nature: A Review of the Effectiveness of Natural Infrastructure for Hazard Risk Reduction.
  • Jasmax. 2024. Fonterra: A global headquarters for one of New Zealand’s best-known brands. 
  • Oliveira, M. J. de, Rato, V., & Leitão, C. (2021). Bioshading system design method (BSDM). In Climate Change Science (pp. 195–222). Elsevier.
  • Oliveira, M. J. de, Rato, V. M., & Leitão, C. (2021). Proof of Concept (PoC) 1.0—Implementing a Bioshading System Design Method. Biomimetics, 6(1), 8.
  • Tang, K. H. D. (2023). Green Walls as Mitigation of Urban Air Pollution: A Review of Their Effectiveness. Research in Ecology, 5(2), 1–13., I. L., Nemova, D. V., Vatin, N. I., Fediuk, R. S., & Karelina, M. I. (2022). Climate-Adaptive Façades with an Air Chamber. Buildings, 12(3), 366.