Chipping away at heating costs


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    Hartford Central School District in Hartford, N.Y., paired with CSArch Architecture | Construction Management in 2006 to develop the district's new Alternative Energy Plant, making it the first public school district in New York state to implement wood chip gasification technology to heat its facilities. The Albany, N.Y.-based CSArch designed the new 2,000-sq-ft Alternative Energy Plant. The plant is located adjacent to the 84,330-sq-ft K-12 school and a 7,000-sq-ft technology building, both of which will be heated by the Alternative Energy Plant.


    Through the gasification process, the plant will convert wood chips from local tree farms and byproducts from local industries to fuel for the district's boilers. Within the plant, wood chips travel by way of an auger from a fuel bunker into a gasifier where they are heated to extremely high temperatures, ignite, and then create gas. The gas is burned in a standard, 12-ton steel boiler to produce hot water, which is then distributed throughout the school's hot water heating system. The system can operate at partial or full capacity depending on heating demand. The district estimates that the plant will burn 1,600 tons of locally sourced wood chips in the first year of operation.


    The school district expects to generate long-term cost savings as a result of the Alternative Energy Plant. Two years ago the district paid $150,000 for oil and in 2010 the estimated costs of providing the same amount of heat with chips is $45,000, i.e. approximately 30% of the cost of fuel oil.


    Additionally, purchasing wood chips close to home tor burn for fuel instead of relying on foreign fossil fuels will reduce the carbon footprint, help support the local economy, and provide local farmers with the system's byproduct, potash, for fertilizer. Forty percent of the cost of the gasification equipment was made available through the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.


    The new building features expansive windows on three sides that will allow students and the community to watch how the new system works. The district will create a hands-on curriculum to educate students about the environmental impact of renewable, alternative energy and motivate them to think in terms of solutions.


    “Hartford Central School District has long wanted to find an alternative energy solution that would help us save money and reduce our carbon footprint. CSArch helped us identify the kind of alternative energy system that would best fit our needs. When we took this vision to our community, they backed the project 100%,” said Thomas Abraham, superintendent of Hartford Central School District.





    Information provided by CSArch Architecture








    Hartford Central School District paired with CSArch Architecture | Construction Management and developed the first public school in the state of New York to heat district facilities with wood chip gasification technology. Located adjacent to a 84,330-sq-ft school, the Alternative Energy Plant burns wood chips and other local industry byproducts in a 12-ton steel boiler, which produces hot water that is then distributed throughout the school's hot water heating system.




    The benefits of the new system for the school district include:




    • 30% reduction in the cost of fuel oil

    • In 2008, heating oil cost $150,000; wood chips cost $45,000

    • Providing local farms with the system's byproduct, potash, for fertilizer.



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