Refurbishment project at special needs school funded by the EFA

Abbey Hill Academy, facing risk of a complete boiler breakdown with equipment over 25 years old, was in urgent need to find a replacement. After the completion of a site survey, a system consisting of Hamworthy cast iron condensing boilers and direct-fired water heaters was identified as best solution to be fitted to the existing heating system. Financing was secured by a successful bid from the Condition Improvement Fund provided by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) available for academies and sixth-form colleges.

Abbey Hill Academy is a school for children with learning difficulties based in Stockton-on-Tees. The facility consists of three buildings providing a comfortable learning atmosphere for around 300 students aged 11 to 19 years. Two old cast iron sectional non condensing boilers were supplying heating and hot water for the main Stephenson Building consisting of 18 classrooms for around 160 students. Old atmospheric water heaters installed in the same building, delivered hot water to showers, sinks, basins and the main kitchen.

Philip McHale, Premises & Facilities Manager at Abbey Hill Academy as part of the Horizons Specialist Academy Trust, was looking for a cost-effective solution.

“The priority was to find a boiler that was energy efficient, would reduce costs, could be fitted to the existing system and came with a complete package of supply to commission. I checked a lot of boiler manufacturers and found Hamworthy’s website to be useful with the offer of a free site survey. We were pleased that we got to meet both Steve Johnson, area sales manager and Stuart Turner, the national sales manager. Both had a genuine interest in our project.”

Two Purewell VariHeat cast iron condensing boilers with a combined output of 360kW were chosen to replace the two old non-condensing cast iron sectional boilers. With heat exchangers made from the same robust material, big waterways and an upgrade to condensing models, the boilers offer long-term reliability, compatibility to the existing heating system while profiting from up-to-date technology for best efficiency.

The hot water supply was met by the installation of two Dorchester DR-FC Evo direct fired condensing water heaters to replace old water tanks, delivering a total output of 1,192 litres per hour.

Philip notes “We updated the old tank fed system that delivered poor hot water pressure to mains fed. There has been a vast improvement in hot water pressure and it has also improved our Legionella management. The web based control system enables us to manage the usage of the boilers, saving us energy.”

The water heaters have an anti-legionella safety function, which means water will be heated for a period at a high temperature (e. g. 65°C for one hour) to prevent the risk of legionella bacteria forming in the vessel. Additionally, the recirculation pump can be set to run to ensure the whole system is purged. Built in controls allow this task to be performed on a regular basis, ensuring water stays legionella-free and safe.

Mark Smith, Project Engineer at Leybourne Urwin Ltd, mechanical and electrical engineers who installed the boilers and water heaters, says: “The boilers were very easy to position and install, the installation instructions were clear to follow. Everything was delivered as and when Hamworthy said it would be. We also used the Hamworthy pipe kits, which are great, as they save time on site.”

Abbey Hill Academy was seeking a way to finance the capital-intensive project. For this purpose, the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is offered by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). CIF is an annual bidding round available for academies and sixth-form colleges to fund projects to keep buildings safe and in good working order. This could be e. g. rectifying health and safety issues, problems with building compliance or improving poor buildings condition. Previous CIF rounds have been heavily oversubscribed which is why applicants need to meet the bid criteria and demonstrate the urgency of projects in order to secure the fund. Philip explains

“The bid criteria set by the EFA put the boiler replacement programme in a high priority level. Due to the condition of our existing boilers and the likelihood of complete failure, our bid was successful.”

After the installation, commissioning of the newly installed boilers and water heaters was carried out by a Hamworthy-approved service engineer. This not only ensured that they were set up for optimised performance, but also improved their warranty terms, covering parts plus labour for two years from commissioning.

Mark Smith adds “We chose Hamworthy for commissioning, as they are the manufacturer, know what they’re doing and what they are looking for during commissioning.”

About working with Hamworthy, Philip comments “The customer service was good. We had the free site survey and direct contact with Steve (our local contact). The boilers arrived on time and well packaged and the commission of the system at the end of the job went well. I’m all round happy with the service.”

For advice on making the right choice for your heating and hot water systems, talk to Hamworthy; telephone 01202 662500, email sales@hamworthy-heating.com, or visit www.hamworthy-heating.com.

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