The Ministry of Education will save hundreds of millions of dollars after new "groundbreaking" research shows 90 per cent of its classrooms are extremely resilient to earthquakes and pose low risk to life.
Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said research by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (Branz) on behalf of the Ministry of Education found that timber-framed classrooms were twice as strong as first thought.
The research might have wider implications for the nation's wooden buildings being significantly more resilient than engineering calculations had previously suggested, Kaye said.
"This is good news for the education budget because we will not have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on earthquake strengthening these buildings."
The timber-framed structures accounted for up to 90 per cent of school classroom and administration buildings and their safety meant the ministry could focus on modernising buildings, she said.
"Timber-framed school buildings performed very well in the Canterbury earthquakes, with no major structural damage caused by ground shaking. Building damage there was caused by liquefaction, rather than shaking."
Non-timber framed buildings outside greater Christchurch totalled about 1900 out of 35,700, on which the ministry was doing more detailed engineering assessments.
Unreinforced masonry, multiple-storey and heavy-construction buildings, and those with large open areas, will be prioritised for strengthening work if needed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Which do you think is the quote of the year?Related story: Best quotes? Cats, sweat and Aaron Gilmore