An agency set up by Christchurch City Council is investigating the feasibility of building a massive underground central heating network that would be connected to buildings.
The Christchurch Agency for Energy says the grid could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
It says the District Energy Scheme would be the first in New Zealand.
Its primary power source could be waste wood, which is a renewable resource, and waste heat could also be captured from places like factories and supermarkets.
An underground network of pipes would carry hot and cold water into buildings for heating and cooling.
Agency chief executive Merv Altments says reconstruction of the city's roads and buildings following the earthquakes provides a one-off opportunity.
A feasibility study now underway will consider how to build the scheme and how it would be funded.