Ensuring visitors to Taranaki Cathedral are given a warm welcome is behind an initiative to monitor the temperature and humidity in New Zealand’s oldest stone church.
Two sensors have been placed in the cathedral – one inside the entrance of the church and another near the altar – and will gather data on temperature and humidity variances. A third has been positioned outside the church as a comparison.
The Taranaki Cathedral Project remediation and design manager Jenny Goddard says the aim of the monitoring is to help determine what sort of heating will best suit when work is undertaken to earthquake strengthen and upgrade the building. This will ensure visitors to the cathedral and those attending services or concerts are kept comfortably warm, or cool, depending on the time of year.
“There is a perception that stone buildings are cold, but that’s not necessarily true,” Jenny says. “The stones hold heat and as long as the building is well ventilated to keep humidity down then the building can be warm.”
The cathedral currently has gas heating, which is not flued. This causes humidity levels to rise and is not efficient for keeping the building warm and dry. It is also detrimental to the preservation of the precious body of the church – the stones.
The sensors were placed in February and each month the data collected will be downloaded onto a computer programme and assessed.
“We’ll monitor over a full year through each season to get an understanding of what variances there are. It’s not highly scientific but it gives us an idea of trends and we can determine what sort of heating will be best, how much is required and where we need to put it,” Jenny says.