The recently completed Flagship Education Centre on Auckland's waterfront has earned its makers a world-class environmental award.
Auckland charity Sustainable Coastlines won the award in the youth category at the 18th Energy Globe Awards in Iran this week.
They beat over 2000 other contenders from 178 countries for the United Nations-endorsed award.
Co-founder Camden Howitt said the building was constructed after the charity decided it needed a space to run its events out of.
"It was an idea about three or four years ago, we really needed a purpose-built place for us to help inspire people to look after the environment. We run a lot of events and do a lot of training so we needed something that fit that values of our organisation.
"The building is based on the philosophies of regenerative design so that's 'do good for the land' rather than the traditional model of sustainable building which is 'do less damage'."
The centre, located in Wynyard Quarter, is made from mostly salvaged and demolition materials including shipping pellets and runs entirely off the grid.
The building's roof is able to decompose airborne pollutants into non-toxic by-products, off-setting the equivalent of over six cars worth of emissions.
Mr Howitt said the purpose of the centre was to educate New Zealanders about living sustainably.
"This centre exists to try to help us change behaviour on a large scale, you know be the fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom which is picking up rubbish once it's already reached the marine environment or having to clean up waterways when they're already damaged.
"We want those solutions to start, essentially stopping the damage occurring in the first place."
More than 2000 people helped build the centre including prisoners from Auckland's Paremoremo prison.
"We absolutely couldn't have done this without their help, we manufactured most of the decking out of shipping pellets that we ripped apart with the people doing community service and then we built the pre-fabricated parts of the decking in Paremoremo prison with prisoners receiving wood-working skills that could make it more likely for them to get a job later."
Sustainable Coastlines chief executive Sam Judd accepted the award at a ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday.
He said it was an incredible honour.
"It was humbling to represent Aotearoa in front of so many other inspiring people and projects from all corners of the earth.
"Now that we have proven, on the international stage, that our programmes are successful the challenge for us is to find the support to upscale our work," he said.