Boilers make county administrative complex comfortable
Atlantic County, N.J. In 1995, things were getting a little uncomfortable in the five buildings that make up the county’s Northfield administrative complex. Four of the buildings were 70 years old, as was the steam heating system that served them.
Time had taken its toll on the system, and by the ’90s, the two 350-hp boilers that supplied steam via underground piping were failing. The system was leaking and becoming more costly to operate and maintain, and building occupants were never sure what the temperature would be when they got to work.
The materials used in the original system were state-of-the-art in the 1920s and still were in fairly good shape. Consequently, it was deemed a waste to replace the entire system. So the county’s engineering staff, along with locally based Concord Engineering Group, decided instead to update it, switching from steam to hot water and decentralizing the system with sealed combustion, direct-vented boilers installed in each building.
The solution was to replace the aged boilers with modern, environmentally friendly, high-efficiency boilers. That would offer each building, one of which housed an assisted-care facility for the county’s elderly, control over its own temperature.
The challenge was siting the boilers, since only one building had been built with either a boiler room or a chimney. Additionally, the buildings had little space to spare for boiler room construction.
That problem was solved through the purchase of Legend 2000 boilers featuring sealed combustion, direct venting with four venting options and three boiler sizes. Manufactured by A.O. Smith, Irving, Texas, and purchased from Hutchinson & Co., the boilers in all four buildings were vented directly through side walls, eliminating the need for chimney construction.
In three of the buildings, space was found in former supply rooms and service areas. (One did require the addition of a small, separate pre-engineered building, placed a few feet from the main building.)
The distribution system, generally in good condition, was modified to accommodate hot water, and steam traps were removed. Piping was disconnected from the existing underground supply system and routed to the new boilers and pumps.
It was necessary to maintain low-pressure steam in the fifth building, a combination kitchen/warehouse that houses meal preparation facilities for the complex and for the county-wide “Meals on Wheels” program. Installation of separate smaller duct furnaces that supply steam through existing piping solved that problem. The project was completed in less than a year for about $700,000,
20 percent less than the projected cost of rehabilitating the existing boilers. Additionally, overall fuel costs are now substantially lower, and the county no longer needs trained personnel available around the clock to monitor the performance of the large steam boilers, as required by state law.
According to Anthony Cappuccio, director of the county’s facilities management department, residents and employees in all the buildings experienced a much-increased level of comfort through the winter of ’97.