Sustainability and strength key to restoration

The Library building (1916) is more sustainable and stronger than it has ever been following its post-earthquake restoration – all without compromising its beautiful heritage features.

Historically the Library basement was used to store books, but now it features a state-of-the-art heating system for the Library and other nearby buildings. Click on images below to view the photo gallery.

The basement has a ceiling height of three metres and the only access is one narrow stairwell, meaning a creative approach was needed in order to get the new equipment in.

The new radiators blend sympathetically into the art gallery’s heritage environment.

The contractors, Benmax NZ, designed a system with small components and pipework that were largely prefabricated before being delivered to site. They incorporated Victaulic mechanical piping products that used couplings to join components – avoiding the need for welding.

“A welded job would have taken exponentially longer to complete, plus welding in an enclosed site of this nature would have exacerbated health and safety risks,” says David Morley, Benmax Site Supervisor.

Arts Centre Site Manager Chris Whitty says the new system is a great long-term solution for the Arts Centre in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

“It was a significant outlay in cost but the efficiency of the system means it’s a more economic solution for the site long-term.

“The new radiators blend sympathetically with the historic surroundings and put out a nice, quiet, gentle heat. The opportunity presented by the earthquakes allowed the Arts Centre to modernise and upgrade its systems to the equivalent of any modern build.”

This project was financially supported by the Christchurch Agency for Energy Trust (CAfE). The primary purpose of the Trust is to promote energy efficiency initiatives and the use of renewable energy in Christchurch. Read more about CAfE.

Other key features of the new heating system

Environmentally sustainable
• Uses artesian water from the site’s natural subterranean water supply
• Artesian water supply eliminates need for high-maintenance cooling towers
• Energy from artesian water harnessed to maintain correct temperature – greatly reducing energy consumption

Environmentally friendly
• Stainless steel pipework prevents corrosion or rust meaning water is pure when reinjected underground
• Stainless steel couplings eliminate contamination of water

Earthquake resistant
• Flexible couplings can withstand seismic movement