David W. Downey Engineering
State-of-the-art technology provides sustainable, safe heating for students
Winston Churchhill Public School (WCPS) is a single-story school building located in the heart of Kingston, Ontario. Built in the 1960s, WCPS serves 324 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. As a part of the Limestone District, the governing school board has long been a leader in sustainability. Not only does it encourage curriculum and practices that teach students about the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations to enjoy, it also looks for environmentally preferable solutions to maintain its schools.
In the 1980s, the school’s original oil-fired boiler was replaced with five small, modular natural gas-fired boilers. Designed to operate at lower boiler water temperatures, the benefits of the system were never realized because they were used in conjunction with traditional finned tube radiators. These older continuous finned tube radiators required high boiler water temperatures to radiate heat effectively throughout the school’s offices, corridors and classrooms. In addition to not capturing the total energy-efficiencies, it did not offer optimal comfort for building occupants. If the room became excessively warm, windows were often open to compensate, resulting in additional energy loss.
“We knew there had to be a more effective way of heating our building, but we needed a solution that could be used in conjunction with renewable energy sources,” said Glen Carson, facility services manager with the Limestone District School Board. “We needed a solution that would be effective for the students and teachers, while reducing our long-term costs.”
In 2008, the school board approved a complete overhaul of the school’s heating system with the focus of reducing energy consumption. David W. Downey Engineering, Ltd. was hired to design a new system that would not only provide a sustainable solution, but one that was also cost-effective and safe for students. After receiving approval to relocate the boiler room from the basement to a small storage area off the school gymnasium, owner David Downey developed plans to upgrade the system using a new state-of-the-art heating system.
A Low-Temperature Solution
To replace the original condensing boiler system, Downey worked with local manufacturer representatives from DisTech to obtain and install five Viessmann Vitoden high-efficiency, natural gas-fired, wall mounted condensing boilers. Each unit serves as a fully modulating condensing boiler. Solar panels mounted on the roof provide an offloaded energy source from the new boiler plant.
To maximize the low temperatures and energy-efficiency of the condensing boilers, Downey replaced the finned tube radiators located throughout the school with 107 Maxi radiators from Jaga Climate Systems. Unlike the original radiators, the radiators from Jaga operate at lower water temperatures of 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing the firing rate of the boiler by 30 percent; therebyreducing the total amount of energy required to heat the building.
“By developing a system that could be used with multiple high efficiency boilers, we were able to add solar panels as a renewable energy source to extend the life of the system,” said Downey. “The key was not only finding renewable energy sources, but radiators that could work in the system without reducing its energy efficiencies.”
Working one room at a time, contractor DB Mechanical installed radiators in each of the ten
32-foot-long classrooms. Radiators were placed along 30 feet of the walls in individually controlled systems that were linked to a larger, state-of-the-art digital control network that is easily monitored by plant operators or other school administrators.
Within each classroom, teachers can adjust individual thermostats to control the room temperature, so if students are more active, as in many kindergarten rooms, the temperature can be quickly reduced. By using radiators with built-in thermal mass, such as Low-H20 radiators from Jaga, the engineers were able to better control energy loss and maximize student comfort.
In addition to offering easily adjustable temperatures throughout the day, each radiator in the new system is also linked to a timed schedule which reduces temperatures in the evenings when the school is closed. An hour before school is set to open, the system kicks on again, further limiting energy loss.
In addition to classrooms, radiators were also installed in offices and corridors throughout the school.
Heating Solutions that Last
Throughout the six month installation process, teachers experienced little disruption because classrooms were renovated on a rotating schedule. Since the new system has been up and running, administrators have received only favorable feedback from teachers and students about the increased comfort in the classrooms and ease of control of the thermostat. It is anticipated that the increased temperature control will lead to higher productivity in the classrooms.
In addition to providing enhanced comfort and control, teachers have also noted the increased safety of the new radiators. Because they require low temperature outputs, the exterior casing of the radiators remain safe to the touch, making it the perfect solution for schools.
The new radiators have also received compliments for their improved visual aesthetic. The clean lines of the Maxi offer a contemporary looking solution for the classrooms.
The biggest return for the school is the anticipated energy savings. As a result of the centralized digital control device and low-water temperature outputs, the school anticipates saving $20,000.00 in the first year. This will result in a savings of $100,000.00 in the first five years.
In addition to the financial return, the new heating system also provides viable heating alternatives to reduce the school’s dependency on non-renewable resources, further increasing its viability for future generations of Kingston children.