In order to maintain smaller schools and improve the current facilities, the community surrounding Forest Hills Public Schools approved major renovations, including districtwide heating and cooling replacements and upgrades.

The Forest Hills School District in Grand Rapids, MI, was founded in 1956, when 13 neighboring, one-room schools consolidated into one district. The district serves more than 8,600 students and annually gains approximately 200 new students.

In 2000, voters approved three separate bond proposals totaling more than $122 million to invest in the future of Forest Hills Public Schools. In order to maintain smaller schools and improve the current facilities, the community approved major renovations, including districtwide heating and cooling replacements and upgrades, technology replacements and upgrades, land purchases, and bus and roof replacements. Funds also were provided to build a new 7-12 school and a new K-6 school. These new buildings, along with the renovations in the existing facilities, will be sufficient to house the increased number of students anticipated for the next five years.

"With the student population growing, facility expansion was inevitable, and the boilers were not able to keep up with the demand. The boilers were old, undersized and requiring more maintenance," said Bob Langerak, director of operations for the school district. "In addition, air conditioning was being installed, so it was the right time to renovate the boiler system. "

The mechanical rooms in five of the school district's facilities were equipped with new Lochinvar high efficiency boilers. The heating and cooling systems were upgraded at Collins Elementary, Northern Hills Middle School, Central High School, the Administration Building and the Community Aquatic Center. The previous boiler systems, comprised of multiple units with varying capacities, were 15-35 years old.

The most challenging part of the new boiler system design was the overall size of the units, which was a critical factor in each of the installations. The Central High School mechanical room was originally designed with 13 units that have now been replaced with six Lochinvar Power-Fin (PBN2000) boilers. Collins Elementary School installed two Power-Fin (PBN1500) boilers; Northern Hills Middle School was renovated with three Power-Fin (PBN2000) boilers; the Administration Building was retrofitted with two Copper-Fin II (CHN0751) boilers; and the Community Aquatic Center installed two Copper-Fin II (CHN1440) boilers.

"The Power-Fin and Copper-Fin II boilers have higher heating capacities but are small in size, which has opened up a lot of space in each of the mechanical rooms," said Langerak.

"The compact size of the Lochinvar boilers definitely aided in the installation, especially the Power-Fin boilers at Collins Elementary School and Central High School," explained Robert Gengelbach, P.E., senior mechanical engineer with URS Corp. Because of the unique vertical chassis design, the Lochinvar Power-Fin boiler fits in less than six square feet of floor space.

Operating efficiency was another key factor in choosing the products. The Power-Fin models operate at an 87% thermal efficiency rating, and the Copper-Fin II models operate at an 84% thermal efficiency rating. Winter 2002 will be the first heating season for the boiler systems, and Langerak expects to see energy savings compared to last year, even with the building expansions.

Recognizing the importance of installing an energy-efficient system, Lochinvar sales representative Paul Hedlund recommended using the Harmony Sequencer on the Power-Fin boilers and Heat-Timer controls on the Copper-Fin II units. The Harmony Sequencer precisely matches the infinitely proportional firing rate of the Power-Fin with the fluctuating demand of the system, optimizing system efficiency and reducing boiler cycling, thus saving product life and fuel dollars.

"Our goal was to install an energy-efficient heating system that would be able to accommodate our growing student population and building expansions. The new Lochinvar boilers, operating with advanced control systems, will provide the needed heat and cost savings we are striving to achieve," said Langerak.

For more information on Power-Fin and Copper-Fin II boilers, visit Lochinvar's website.