$3.1m school block powered by sun

00:31, Jun 15 2013
Finishing touches are added to a specialist block at Cathedral Grammar School.

Cathedral Grammar School is spending $3.1 million to repair a 100-year-old quake-damaged building but the new classroom is equipped to start paying for itself.

The school is installing solar heating as it redevelops a two- storey weatherboard building into a specialist music, science, and art facility.

Some of the repair bill would come from an earthquake insurance payout but a solar panel power system, which cost about $50,000, would help with the rest.

Headmaster Paul Kennedy said the system would be paid off in about four years as power was fed back into the main New Zealand grid during times of excess production.

"We've had to completely redo the foundation, it's now on a floating raft . . . they essentially stripped the building completely inside, jacked it up slightly (before the foundation repair). There's a huge amount of steel in it; we believe it is the safest building in Christchurch," Kennedy said.

The solar panels would heat the larger open-plan rooms which provided practice areas for the orchestra and the long-standing Christ Church Cathedral choristers group.


"(The rebuild) will set the school up for the next 100 years. We've been around for 131 years; we opened in 1881, about six months before Christ Church Cathedral did," Kennedy said.

The building's facade and other features of the historic place of education dating back to August 1913 had been retained, Kennedy said.

Insulation and other environmentally friendly features had been added, and post-quake strengthening meant it was rated at 130 per cent of building code compliance requirements.

A five-year earthquake repair project would cost the school about $15m with some paid by insurers but $5m paid by fundraising.

The Press