The Evolution of the Sustainable School

Jasmax are leaders in sustainable design. We continue to research, learn, challenge assumptions and ourselves, with the aim of delivering innovative, beautiful, sustainable and restorative solutions for our clients. Each project we deliver, whether it be commercial, cultural, civic or education advances our knowledge, and creates strong foundations to go further on the next.

Nowhere is this evolution more apparent than our work with the Ministry of Education. Together, we’re designing schools that are more comfortable, support student learning and cost less to run and maintain over the lifecycle of the building. It’s been a goal of Jasmax since Ivan Mercep, a founding principal designed Waipapa, a naturally ventilated Marae at the University of Auckland in the late 1970’s.

We also have a strong track record working alongside the New Zealand Green Building Council, in fact, Jasmax principal Tim Hooson is chairman of the NZGBC Board. Within the education field, Ormiston Senior College offered our first opportunity to work with NZGBC on a pilot project, developing the Green Star Education Tool. This work provided us with a clear understanding of a NZGBC 5 Green Star Certification. We’ve built on this learning through our work on Stonefields Primary School in Auckland and Clearview Primary School in Christchurch, with both schools achieving a 5 Green Star Certification.

In some cases there isn’t the desire, the requirement or the budget to go for Green Star accreditations. Fundamentally, sustainable design is smart design, so we integrate it into all projects, regardless of rating points. A good example is highlighted on the redevelopment of Avondale College, in Auckland. We specified high performance Thermomass insulated panels for precast walls, and a highly insulated roof build up to avoid thermal leaks and condensation, creating some of the most comfortable low energy classrooms in NZ. We also pitched in pro bono to support the Avondale College EnviroChallenge team, encouraging student engagement and understanding. In 2012, Avondale College won the Challenge competition against eight other schools.

To support the Ministry of Education in generating best possible outcomes, Jasmax are looking beyond Green Star, in pursuit of the sweet spot between investment, energy performance, whole of life value and educational outcomes. A key example of this new approach is Pegasus Primary School in Christchurch. Due for completion in April 2014, it will be New Zealand’s first net zero energy school. Through improved insulation to roof and walls, floor slab edge insulation, double glazing with excellent daylight harvesting and a good degree of airtightness, Pegasus Primary is designed to use 40% less energy than that of a 5 Green Star Education building. The energy it does require is generated with 560m2 of solar electric panels and five high performance closed loop drain back solar hot water systems. These energy savings will generate approximately $28,000 of power a year (at 18c/kwh), providing an estimated payback time of 9 years using low maintenance, durable and high quality technology.

Pegasus Primary is an important next step in our quest for sustainable design, however it’s by no means the pinnacle of what’s possible. Having just completed NZ’s first Living Building Challenge project, we now know the act of building can give back to society and the natural environment, we’ve proven a building can become genuinely restorative. It’s perhaps the toughest yet most rewarded test of environmentally sustainable design. It requires robust design processes and resilient project teams. However if New Zealand is to stay true to our heritage and our image, it’s a challenge we must rise to. We see the Ministry of Education as an inherently future focussed organisation, and the perfect clients to work on the next living building challenge.

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