For the last two decades, the listed Venetian Gothic building that houses the school had relied on two dated cast-iron pressure jet boilers for its heating. Heating is a critical service in all buildings, but particularly in schools as if the system fails, the building could face closure. Furthermore, an effective and efficient heating system optimises the learning environment, maximising comfort levels while minimising energy demand for lower running costs and emissions.
So when the old boiler plant at Thomas More Catholic School began to fail, surveyors Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP (FFT) were swift to act, recommending an immediate boiler replacement. Due to the listed status of the building, which dates back to 1863, this cost-effective, non-disruptive solution was the most viable option to achieving high-performance heating.
FFT appointed Cowley Group to carry out the boiler replacement as they had the experience of working on similar projects.
Cowley Group’s Managing Director Anthony Gurr recommended installing two high-efficiency Remeha Gas 610 Eco Pro 13-section replacement boilers (pictured below) to meet the heat demand and site requirements.
Anthony Gurr said: “We always specify Remeha where we can as we find they have the best range of boilers for almost every application. What’s more, they are the most reliable of the boiler brands we have installed.”
Given the heritage considerations, the project was not without its challenges, as FFT’s Project Manager Abigail Blumzon explained: “The first obstacle we faced was access, as the primary entrance to the basement-level plantroom is via a very narrow and fragile Victorian cast iron staircase.
“The flueing arrangements for the new condensing boilers were similarly more complex than would otherwise be the case, due to the listed nature of the building.
“Added to this was the need to avoid any disruption either to the service or the building, as this emergency boiler replacement needed to take place during term time. This meant ensuring that the heating service remained uninterrupted throughout the changeover, while maintaining a safe environment for the students and minimising noise and disturbance.”
It was no small feat for Cowley Group. In order to overcome the access constraints, the old boilers had to be broken down and craned out of the basement through a lightwell. The new Remeha boilers then had to enter the plantroom through the same space.
Anthony commented: “A key benefit of the Remeha boilers on this project is their weight as we were able to lift them down into the plantroom. They were also narrow enough to fit through the doorways.”
Following his recommendation, a plate heat exchanger was applied to hydraulically separate the two circuits. This prevents any debris or contaminated water entering the new boilers, increasing their longevity and durability while optimising their operational performance and the overall efficiency of the system.
In addition to cordoning off the ‘hot works’ zone so that the school remained a safe environment for its students, Cowley Group needed to devise a suitable flueing arrangement for the new condensing boilers.
Anthony explained: “The school building has a 27-metre-high chimney, listed and built in 1878, so the most appropriate solution was to reline it and drop the flue down inside the lining tube. This was carried out by Flue Stax Ltd. The scaffolders did a good job but, given the height, it was quite an exacting task — although one that we managed to complete successfully.”
“The whole project went very smoothly,” confirmed Abigail. “Given the hurdles which the team had to overcome, the excellent result is a testament to everyone who worked on the project.”
With the new Remeha boilers now fully operational, the students and staff at Thomas More Catholic School are benefitting from higher comfort levels throughout the building. The new boilers will also bring financial and environmental benefits, thanks to their high efficiencies and low Class 6 NOx emission levels. Energy usage, heating costs and associated emissions will all be reduced, while the improved reliability will further reduce maintenance costs in the months ahead.
The school is delighted with the installation, which was carried out smoothly and to schedule.
Robin Caunt, Site Premises Manager at Thomas More Catholic School, said: “Excellent project management from start to finish by all those involved. The boiler room has been improved with better lighting, painted floor and incredibly quiet boilers.”
The Remeha Gas 310/610 Eco Pro high efficiency condensing boiler series is specially designed for maximum versatility and energy efficiency. Available in five to 10 sections, its compact design means it fits through any standard doorway. For restricted or awkward access, it can be disassembled into parts, reducing labour and time costs.