Springfield School District Standardizes Systems With ClearFire® Condensing Boilers

Case Study

  • Industry: Education
  • Location: Springfield, Oregon
  • Profile: District includes 24 schools that educate 10,600 students
  • Challenge: Identify a reliable condensing boiler that meets the needs of all schools in the district
  • Solution: ClearFire® line of boilers met the district’s efficiency, reliability and component standardization goals
  • Results: Boilers have been efficient, reliable and quiet as well as easy to install, operate and maintain

There are 24 schools in the Springfield Public Schools district, located in Springfield, Oregon. Terry Rutledge is the mechanical, electrical and plumbing foreman responsible for managing the systems in all the schools throughout the district.

Sister schools Maple Elementary and Thurston Elementary were built in 2010. At that time, both schools were outfitted with condensing boilers from another manufacturer to heat the 56,890-square-foot buildings. Rutledge said within a few years, both boilers failed, and maintenance on the systems was an ongoing task. His team replaced every major component in at least one boiler at both schools.

With 24 schools under his supervision, Rutledge knew that standardizing the boiler systems would be beneficial with regard to serviceability, maintenance and replacement parts. After evaluating product lines from several manufacturers, Rutledge selected Cleaver-Brooks ClearFire® condensing boilers due to their efficiency, durability, ease of parts, and maintenance.

Maple Elementary School

The boilers in several schools were replaced with ClearFire-C (CFC) condensing boilers, and Rutledge wanted these boilers to replace the faulty ones at Maple and Thurston Elementary Schools. The only problem was that the CFC boiler was too large to fit through the school’s doorway into the mechanical room. At the time, the schools were the two newest in the district, so Rutledge did not want to remove a window or put a hole in the side of the wall to bring in the boilers.

He expressed his concern to Mike Colombo at Cole Industrial. Cole Industrial is an authorized Cleaver-Brooks representative headquartered in Lynnwood, Washington with offices in surrounding states, including Oregon. At the time, Rutledge did not know that Cleaver-Brooks was already working on a solution, the ClearFire-CE (CFC-E) condensing boiler.

The CFC-E condensing boiler, named a finalist in the 2018 AHR Innovation Awards, is designed to achieve up to 99% efficiency. It features dual temperature returns, making it simple to integrate into any building design. The CFC-E fits through a standard doorway and features patented tube and burner technology along with intelligent controls to optimize system performance and minimize costs.

Before Cleaver-Brooks launched the CFC-E, Rutledge said, “Mike was nice enough to call and tell me about the new product and ask if we wanted to be a beta test site. I said I was very interested.”

Springfield Public Schools purchased serial numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the CFC-E in December 2016 and installed the boilers the following month.

The state of Oregon requires an Operator Stamp to pull a boiler permit or install process piping, so Springfield Schools partnered up with Cole Industrial to sell them the boilers, pull the necessary permits and weld the piping.

Rutledge is a steam fitter by trade, so after he and his maintenance crew obtained the proper permits, they installed the boilers in house. At the first school, they demoed out one of the faulty boilers and put in the new CFC-E. After they got it up and running, they went to the second school and did the same thing. According to Rutledge, “It was a very easy and successful install, and the facilities never lost heat.”

Rutledge said operating the boilers has been very easy as well. He added that the boilers are whisper-quiet, explaining, “When you walk into the boiler room, you have to touch the screen to see if the boiler is running.”

To date, eight schools in the district now have ClearFire boilers, and Rutledge said, “I would like to get all the schools in my district eventually swapped over to ClearFires. The goal is to replace all the boilers in the district.”

Occasionally, other school districts call Rutledge to ask his opinion about the boiler systems. He says he strongly recommends any product in the ClearFire line based on their efficiency, overall vessel warranty, maintenance and ease of operation.

He also highly recommends that districts move toward standardization. “We are not unique in the fact that we have to ask our maintenance crews to wear many hats. To have a top-notch, experienced boiler tech come and know everything about 15 different boilers is a little bit challenging. By standardizing the systems, the output can be different, but the components are the same.”

On the rare occasion they have to seek help, Rutledge said, “I’m super pleased with the support we’ve received and highly recommend Cleaver-Brooks to anyone.”