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Brattleboro and Bellows Falls, VT Middle Schools

Save 45% in Fuel Costs with
Renewable Heating and New Biomass Boiler Systems

The Green Street School is located in Brattleboro, VT. Image: greenstreetschoolvt.com

Jim Van Valkenburgh

A project to upgrade the heating system at Green Street School (GSS) in Brattleboro, VT has been a tremendous success in comfort, annual energy use and cost savings. The school was built in 1924 with a coal-fired steam heating system. Later it was converted to burning oil—recently over 17,500 gallons a year. In the summer of 2016, Froling Energy removed the old steam boilers and replaced them with two new high-efficiency boilers: one burning dry wood chips and the other propane gas. At the same time, all the old cast-iron steam radiators throughout the building were removed and replaced with modern hot water radiant panel convectors.

Stunning results from the last two winters show a 35% reduction in heat energy consumption and annual fuel cost savings of 45%.

“The heating improvements at GSS have been amazing for our entire school community!” explained Principal Mark Speno. “Prior to our upgrades, we had a building with drastic temperature changes from room to room. It was common to have (electric) space heaters running in some rooms while others had windows open to try and cool down.”

The new Froling T4-150 boiler

A new building energy control system was also installed. “Now we have a beautiful, consistent school climate,” says Principal Speno. “This has led to a much happier building. Students, staff and parents can expect to be comfortable when they come to school. This energy project has had an incredibly positive impact on our school culture and has helped lead to a safer and healthier school. On behalf of the entire GSS community, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in this dynamic energy-efficiency project.”

GSS is the smallest building in the region to be heated by semi-dry chips, a relatively new biomass fuel that has cost and efficiency advantages. The new boilers and 15-ton capacity dry chip storage silo all fit into the old boiler room and coal bin areas. A Froling T4-150 dry chip boiler is assisted by a Viessmann propane-fueled boiler.

“We’re excited to support semi-dry chip installations as they are easily adapted into the local forest economy and fuel-supply market,” said Program Manager Marion Major of The Windham Wood Heat Initiative, who provided a significant grant for the project. “We are pleased to be a part of the upgrade to Green Street School’s antique steam heating system to install a fully automated wood heating system fueled by semi-dry chips.”  The goals of their program are to heat local buildings more efficiently, renewably and “to support the local economy through the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources. GSS encapsulates this perfectly.”

Bellows Falls Middle School, located in VT, upgraded their heating system to a Froling T4-150. The new boiler replaced their faulty, old, wood-pellet boiler that did not meet their needs. Photos courtesy Froling Energy unless otherwise noted.

“Including students in the conversation through education is a powerful tool,” Marion continued. “My hope is to incorporate the system into the curriculum, so the students can learn about the positive local impact, the science of wood heat, and that they have opted out of oil.”

The project was designed by Chris Hebb of Dynamic Integrations LLC and fully executed by Froling Energy of Peterborough, NH under contract to Windham Southeast Supervisory Union.

One year later, a semi-dry wood chip boiler installation was installed at Bellows Falls Middle School. This was partially funded by The Windham Wood Heat Initiative. However, there were some distinct differences at Bellows Falls Middle School which is part of Windham Northeast Supervisory Union. Marion Major explained, “The previously installed system had a faulty (wood pellet) boiler which never performed up to standard. Replacing this with a reliable system sent a clear message to the community that this was a sound technology to invest in.”

The boiler is the same model as that installed at GSS, a Froling T4-150 with a maximum output of 512,000 BTU/hour. The winning bid, by Froling Energy, converted the existing wood-pellet silo and material handling system to work with dry wood chips which reduces future biomass fuel costs by 35%. The new boiler in Bellows Falls, VT started operation in January 2019, so this will be its first full winter of operation. Results look to be quite positive.

“The Windham Wood Heat program prioritized the swap out with substantial financial incentives to support the school board’s decision to continue with wood heat,” reported Ms. Major. “The project was an important step in building local buy-in for automated wood heat systems.”

Jim Van Valkenburgh is VP Sales & Marketing for Froling Energy. He can be reached at 603-924-1001 x2. For more information on Froling Energy go to www.FrolingEnergy.com.

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