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Case study: High school

High school - Albany Junior High School

Photo of Albany Junior High School.



The Ministry of Education

Site address

Appleby Road, Albany, North Shore

Total floor area



$2570 (adjusted to 2005)

Conventional cost/m2

$2430 (5.7% below project cost)

Contract value

$22.2 million


The indicative economics for this case study building are in the table below. The savings over the benchmark suggest that the benchmark may be increasing due to longer operating hours and community use. The intensity of site usage is also increasing, such as, for example, the use of two-storey buildings and increasing use of computers.

Building type

Benchmark building capital cost

ESD building capital cost

ESD building premium (saving)

ESD building premium (saving)

Annual energy cost savings

Annual water cost savings

Total annual cost savings

Simple payback

20-year NPV for ESD measures

Secondary school










Environmental summary

The Albany Junior High School development included the following measures to promote positive social, environmental and economic outcomes:

  • passive solar design and building orientation
  • optimisation of window-to-wall ratios and thermally efficient glazing systems in selected areas to promote high level of daylight and energy efficiency
  • design of a central atrium to the administration building to promote daylight levels and natural ventilation
  • energy-efficient lighting systems including luminaries and daylight controls
  • energy-efficient façade design and higher level of insulation than New Zealand Building Code requirements
  • use of mixed mode ventilation systems to promote indoor air quality and energy efficiency
  • energy-efficient heating systems and solar hot water heating to serve the gymnasium change rooms
  • provision of stormwater collection and re-use.

Project description

Located in the Albany basin, the Albany Junior High School is a new concept for the Ministry of Education. Established around concepts of 'integrated learning', the co-educational school provides facilities for students from years 7 to 10. The first stage of the development is configured for 780 pupils, with a second stage set to increase this number to 1400.

Stage one includes three whanau (classroom) buildings, an administration building, gymnasium and Performing Arts Centre. The future stage two development will include two further whanau buildings. All of the buildings are two storeys high. Specialist knowledge areas such as visual arts, science and technology are divided between each of the whanau buildings. Sports fields and hard surface courts have also been provided.

The whanau concept breaks down the scale of the school into manageable and identifiable groups for the students to relate to. Each whanau group is then broken down in to core teaching areas, specialist knowledge areas, gathering space, resource and office areas.

The design team for this project brought together experience from the design of the first two secondary schools to be developed by the Ministry of Education in 25 years (Botany Downs Secondary College and Alfriston College both completed in 2004) as well as from the Establishment Board.

A significant factor in the design of the school's built environment was the consideration of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) measures, particularly to promote positive educational outcomes, improved teaching and learning environments, minimisation of energy use and reduced environmental impact.

Project images

Photo of school building.

Photo of school building.

Site plan

Diagram of site plan.



  • Insulation in roofs and walls at higher than building code levels reduce heating energy use.
  • High performance glazing on larger window areas reduces heat loss in winter.
  • Underfloor insulation improves the performance of the atria underfloor heating system.
  • Passive solar design techniques make best use of window wall areas to improve daylight levels and reducing energy use.
  • Efficient lights along with time, occupancy and daylight sensors reduced energy use.
  • A mixed-mode ventilation system provides naturally ventilated spaces throughout the year.
  • The air ventilation systems serving the classrooms use air-to-air heat exchangers to preheat outdoor air and reduce heating energy use in winter.
  • The air conditioning unit serving the Performing Arts Centre supplies full fresh air to the space for improved indoor air quality. An air-to-air heat exchanger recovers heat or cool air to minimise energy consumption.


  • A condensing boiler improves the energy generation efficiency of the central gas-fired heating system.
  • Allowing wider temperature differentials in the heating system reduces pipe and pump sizes and keeps down capital and running costs.

Renewable energy

  • Solar hot water units on the roof of the gymnasium heat the water used in the changing rooms.
  • The student centre atrium roof is oriented to allow for the future provision of photovoltaics. The location at the front of the site will allow a visible and iconic architectural form to educate users and public.

Energy use targets

  • The annual energy use target for the entire site is predicted to be less than 80 kWh/m2/annum. This figure represents an average energy use across the whole site including offices, classrooms, IT facilities etc.


  • Surface water is treated in rain gardens and swales strategically located around the site.
  • A buried stormwater pipe collects surface water, which is re-used for irrigating the sports field, cutting down the use of potable water.
  • Rainwater from the three whanau buildings roofs is collected in buried tanks. The rainwater is used for toilet flushing and for general irrigation to reduce the use of potable water.
  • Low-flow water fixtures are used including taps and showerheads.
  • Occupancy sensors are used for demand control of urinal flushing.

Materials and waste

  • Construction waste was reduced by changing the façade design. Standard material sizes were used to minimise construction waste.
  • The waste management sub-contractor sorted construction waste to minimise landfill. Construction waste was monitored monthly, with reporting provided on tonnage to recycling versus tonnage to landfill.
  • Thermal mass is used extensively to regulate internal temperatures to promote thermal comfort and help with passive solar heating in winter, particularly in the atria.
  • Multiplex's project management plan identified environmental impact reduction strategies.
  • Provision was made for on-site filtration and collection of paint and materials including cleaning liquids, which were then disposed of off-site monthly.

Indoor environmental quality

Measures to promote positive indoor environmental quality include:

  • window-to-wall ratios to balance solar heat gain, reduce glare and promote high daylight levels
  • external shading assessment and shading design
  • design of south-lights to the art classrooms to promote daylight levels and natural ventilation
  • design of the administration building to promote daylight levels and natural ventilation
  • using thermally efficient glazing in some areas
  • using thermal mass and insulation to improve thermal comfort
  • a mixed-mode (more than one type) ventilation strategy responds to seasonal changes and promotes indoor air quality and energy efficiency
  • supplying full outdoor air to the classrooms in winter improves indoor air quality and a healthier learning environment.


  • Extensive use is made of natural daylight. The variability of natural daylight levels can also provide more visual stimulation. Spaces that are lit mainly with daylight can have a positive physiological impact, creating better learning environments that encourage increased performance from students and teachers.
  • Natural ventilation throughout the school improves indoor air quality.
  • Full outdoor air systems with heat recovery are used in winter to promote indoor air quality when windows need to be closed to retain heat or when quiet is required.


Incorporating sustainability into the management and curriculum of the school is possible in a number of ways. This includes waste management, recycling systems, capitalising on existing land use and ecology, and promoting transportation initiatives that minimise environmental impact.

The school has established an environmental management plan in line with ISO14001. Their 'walk it in, walk it out' policy is particularly interesting. With no rubbish bins on-site the pupils must take all their rubbish home for disposal and recycling.

Monitoring and results

Only electrical energy use data was available because of discrepancies with the water and gas supply billing.

The monthly electrical energy use is presented in the table below. A gross floor area of 8633m2 projects electrical energy use based on current data to be 37.5 kWh/m2/annum. This projection assumes energy use from November 2005 to April 2006 to be the same as that for May 2005.

The electrical energy use data must be tempered by the fact that two of the whanau blocks are currently not being totally used.

School holidays and an increased role for 2006 will affect the final energy consumption figures.

Figure 1 Summary of electrical energy use by month

Graph showing electrical use, increasing in the cooler months. Usage is just over 5000 KWh in Jan, and just over 35000 KWh in June.

A conservative assessment obtained by removing the gross floor area of these two whanau buildings from the projected annual energy use results in 62.3 kWh/m2/annum. This projection is less than 80 kWh/m2/annum and does not include gas consumption for primary heating.

Also note however that at 2032m2, whanau A is 621 m2 larger than whanau B. This projected energy use is an average of both classroom blocks and offices facilities that typically have very different energy use profiles, which may skew these projections.

Only time can yield more accurate results of annual energy use, however current available data looks promising for the first year of school operation with systems still bedding in and buildings being conditioned.

Lessons learnt

  • Construction waste reduction strategies need to be implemented early in the project to ensure design and construction teams (including sub-contractors) focus on waste minimisation throughout the development of the project.
  • Subcontractors need to be educated early about environmentally sustainable design (ESD) developments so they clearly understand the vision and will support innovative design aspects.
  • Sub-metering of individual building energy and water use as well as stormwater harvesting can help with building commissioning and tuning as well as ongoing resource management and as an educational tool.
  • Investment in ESD measures has both direct and indirect benefits. Capital cost and return on investment cannot be considered alone. Ongoing research into measures that promote positive social and environmental outcomes is also needed to understand the less tangible benefits.


Client The Ministry of Education

Project manager Beca

Architects Warren & Mahoney

ESD Connell Mott MacDonald

Building services & fire engineering Connell Mott MacDonald

Structural engineers Structure Design

Quantity surveyors WT Partnership

Acoustics Marshall Day Acoustics

Civil engineers GHD

Contractor Multiplex