Boilers for school heating

Find information about funding, maintaining and disposing of a school boiler.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Principals and Tumuaki


Boiler heating systems are a safe, low cost method of heating schools. As a board, you need to manage and maintain your boiler well so that it runs safely and efficiently.

Your health and safety responsibilities

Making sure your boiler is operating safely is part of your overall health and safety responsibilities.

We recommend you review your school’s health, safety and wellbeing systems.

Keeping people healthy and safe

This will help you meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. 

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 — NZ Legislation website(external link)

Funding boilers

Your school boiler is essential infrastructure to keep your school operating. Getting a new or replacement boiler is a priority 2 item in your 10 Year Property Plan (10YPP). You pay the costs from your 5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding.

5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding

If your boiler breaks down or needs urgent repair, it becomes a priority 1 project. If the school would have to close down without it — for example, because it's winter — you must replace or repair it immediately. In this case, contact your local property advisor immediately.

Issues to consider when installing a boiler

If you're thinking about installing a boiler, you need to consider our requirements for room temperatures.

Our designing quality learning spaces (DQLS) standards expect school rooms to be kept at certain temperatures so that people using them are comfortable, healthy and safe.

Designing Quality Learning Spaces

You also need to check with your local council whether:

  • your area has restrictions on releasing emissions in your area to minimise pollution and the effects on neighbours
  • you need resource consent.

Modern wood chip boilers are the most environmentally sound option for schools. In most regions, they cost about the same to run as a coal-fired boiler.

If you must burn a fossil fuel, natural gas boilers are environmentally preferable to coal or oil because their emissions are less harmful. However, they still can harm the environment and people’s health if they aren't installed, maintained and operated correctly.

If you already have a coal boiler only use high-grade coal. Lower-grade coal contains high levels of sulphur. It can corrode and shorten the life of the boiler.

Maintaining your boiler

You need to manage and maintain your system well as you have a legal responsibility to make sure your school boiler is safe.

Identify boiler failure as a potential risk in your health and safety plan and include this work as part of your school’s maintenance planning.

The WorkSafe New Zealand website provides more information about your legal responsibilities.

Approved code of practice for the design, servicing, maintenance and safe operation of boilers [PDF, 354KB] – WorkSafe NZ(external link)

You can minimise energy loss with regular maintenance. Set up a system so that the boiler doesn't run when it's not needed.

Boiler tuning business grant

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) estimates that for every $1.00 spent on boiler tuning, $30.00 can be saved through increased efficiency. EECA runs a boiler tuning funding programme for organisations with boiler capacity of over 200 kilowatts.

Boiler tuning support — EECA website(external link)

Engaging a maintenance contractor and inspector

As part of managing your boiler well, you need to engage:

  • a boiler maintenance company, under a preventative maintenance contract. It can maintain your boiler regularly, which stops the boiler from breaking down or developing dangerous faults.
  • an inspector, who is independent from your maintenance contractor, to do a certified boiler safety inspection each year. For information on inspection firms, contact WorkSafe New Zealand.

Contact WorkSafe New Zealand(external link)

Provide the maintenance contractor, inspector and the person operating your boiler with all relevant information and records. You should have an operating manual. If you don’t, ask your maintenance contractor to provide one.

Keeping records

Keep records of all work, repairs or modifications to your boiler. Ask your maintenance contractor and inspector to provide updated information after each visit.

School boiler condition inspection program

Our Building Compliance Manager Argest carries out a nationwide inspection of all school boiler units.

This is undertaken to ensure your school’s assets are safe and functioning as they should be. It helps us find boilers that need attention and also helps us to capture accurate data.

Inspections will be organised with schools and undertaken by Aquaheat (Argest specialist subcontractor). Your school and your property advisor will be sent a survey report after your boiler is inspected. These reports may contain recommendations about your boiler for you to consider and implement in your own timeframe.

But if the report identifies issues considered a serious concern or health and safety risk, act promptly. This work should be prioritised as a 5YA expense.

For more information, call Argest on 0800 274 378 (8.30am - 4.30pm Monday-Friday).

Disposing of your boiler

Boilers are a fixed asset so if you need to replace or remove an existing boiler, talk to your property advisor about disposal options before doing anything.

If you're replacing your boiler for a new heating system, the decommissioning and removal of the boiler forms part of the replacement project budget.

We sometimes have a rationalisation funding programme to pay for removal of school buildings such as boiler rooms. Talk to your property advisor to find out if this is an option.

Replacing school coal boilers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

We are replacing coal boilers in schools so they run on lower carbon emitting solutions. Coal boilers are a significant source of emissions for the state and education sectors. We aim to have all coal boilers replaced by June 2025. When the programme was announced in 2019, there were about 150 coal boilers in schools.

The projects will be delivered by Ministry consultants with support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Coal boilers are replaced with renewable wood or electric heating sources, such as heat pumps.

The programme is part of the $12 billion infrastructure investment package announced in 2019, including a $200 million State Sector Decarbonisation Programme to reduce state sector emissions.

Schedule of schools with indicative timeframes [PDF, 488 KB]

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