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Three years ago, Campion Academy, a 107-year-old secondary boarding school of 165 students, in Loveland, Colo., made plans to renovate 1920s-era Hankins Hall, one of the oldest and most beloved buildings on campus. The project focused on restoring the visual appeal of the building, while upgrading most of its electrical and mechanical equipment to more energy-efficient technology, including the school’s selection of heating and hot-water equipment.
The Selection Process
Though the original plan was to replace Hankins Hall’s aging hot-water boilers with similar equipment, the school and its mechanical engineer, with input from plumbing contractor Chambers Plumbing & Heating, Inc., of Loveland, opted to go with the more energy-efficient, versatile Rinnai Condensing Gas Boilers. One of the big selling points were the boilers’ outdoor reset function and modulating pumps, which helps the boilers to operate more efficiently by sensing outdoor temperatures and adjusting output accordingly.
“The reason we thought the Rinnai boilers would do so well in this application was that they have the capability to monitor the ambient temperatures outside and heat the building according to those temperatures,” said David Lohnes, president of Chambers Plumbing & Heating. “The fact that these boilers can modulate up and down so the heat load needed is met without over firing and wasting energy made a big impact. So, instead of one or several boilers coming on all at once and producing an excessive amount of heat, only the unit or units necessary will fire and produce the ideal amount of heat needed for the conditions.”
Installing multiple condensing boilers together in a system also offers redundancy, meaning that if one unit should happen to go down, the remaining boilers will continue functioning to ensure that all heating needs are met. Also in Rinnai’s favor, the school previously installed Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters on campus, which helped solidify the school’s latest equipment decision.
“We’d actually had four Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters installed earlier for domestic hot-water heating in another building on campus and they’ve been very dependable,” said Dean Helm, vice principal of finance at Campion Academy. “Plus, we were intrigued by the technological features of the boilers and the utility savings that can result from their high energy efficiency.”
Attached to a dormitory and cafeteria, Hankins Hall has three floors. The first—a basement—houses classrooms, while the second floor is the location of the campus chapel. And, the third floor is home to meeting space and classrooms. After disconnecting and removing the existing boilers, Chambers Heating & Cooling installed three natural gas-powered, wall-mounted Rinnai Q175S Condensing Boilers on the first floor of Hankins Hall with. The Rinnai Q175S is a high-efficiency boiler—95 percent max—with a maximum input of 175,000 Btu. Its compact, wall-mounted design takes up considerably less space than traditional standing hot-water boilers, freeing up more space for other uses in retrofits. The condensing boilers were connected to provide heat to baseboard radiation on the first and second floors and 16 old cast-iron radiators on the third floor to maintain the original architectural design. There was no need for system balancing, as Rinnai’s self-balancing manifolds manage flow to all zones of the building, as needed.
The project ran smoothly, and the newly restored Hankins Hall was reopened for use. The renovated building has been a big hit with Campion Academy students, faculty and alumni, and the Rinnai Condensing Boilers are performing efficiently and reliably.
“The Rinnai boilers at Hankins Hall are doing exactly what they are supposed to do and have not given us an ounce of trouble,” Helm said. “We’re happy with our choice.”