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Corban College upgrades historic Oregon site's boiler system

Monday, July 7, 2008
  • Behind these doors are two large boilers which the College has retired in favor of smaller and higher efficiency boilers located in separate buildings.

  • This Cleaver Brooks boiler, with a capacity of over 1000 gallons, was put into service in 1969 as part of the boiler system that heated the major buildings on campus. Campus Care kept it well maintained and State-certified during all of its years of operation.

  • Six new boilers like this one will be installed in campus buildings previously serviced by the old boiler.

Separate, high-efficiency boilers in four buildings at Corban College and Graduate School will replace the boiler system used by both former occupants The Oregon Institute for Deaf-Mutes and The Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital.  Work began in May to retire the old boiler plant, which has serviced the oldest buildings on campus since 1897, and replace it with an energy-efficient system.  The project is set to be completed in early November and is designed to reduce maintenance and improve energy efficiency.  
The buildings, which are contemporaries of The Oregon State Mental Hospital, once housed The Oregon Institute for Deaf-Mutes and, later, The Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital.  The Oregon Institute for Deaf-Mutes built printing and carpentry shops to train its students in the spring of 1894.  After the school’s relocation to town in North Salem, the state Tuberculosis Sanitarium acquired the property and opened in November, 1910.  Corban College and Graduate School, then known as Western Baptist Bible College, purchased the buildings and 100 acres in 1969.  Since 2005, significant campus upgrades have been made pursuing the College’s 2010/2020 vision campaign, which involves updating all existing buildings as well as the addition of new ones to accommodate the College’s growth.  
Heating for most of the buildings on the lower campus has been supplied by the same boiler system since 1897. Before being shut down this spring, underground steam lines had serviced the buildings that host two residence halls, the majority of classrooms, administration, and other offices.  Over time, aging pipes resulted in increased maintenance and rapidly decreasing efficiency. Rather than face mounting maintenance and energy costs, Corban’s Board of Trustees voted to move ahead with the upgrade at their quarterly meeting in February.

The installation of the new system requires no digging or ground disturbance.  Use of existing steam radiators will continue in the larger buildings; they have been tested and updated for the highest efficiency.  Natural gas consumption is expected to decrease by fifty percent, according to Corban’s Maintenance Supervisor Patrick Walsh.

The College chose McKinstry Energy Services of Seattle, known for its energy improvement services throughout the Northwest, to perform the upgrade.  Beginning with an energy audit in February funded by an incentive program with Energy Trust of Oregon, the entire project itself is being funded by a 15-year, low-interest loan called SELP through the Oregon Department of Energy.  
“This is one of the best economic returns on a boiler replacement I’ve ever seen,” said Chris Bristow, account manager for McKinstry’s Salem office.  “Self-funding programs like this work well for institutions that don’t have capital funds available up front.”
Corban’s President Reno Hoff said that the College would realize savings, after loan payments and interest costs, at an average of $11,000 per year.

According to Bristow, the McKinstry audit revealed that, other than the old boiler system and some lighting/heating adjustments in the sports center, the College is in good shape.  Director of Campus Care Tom Samek reported that in the last two years, his staff had already updated about 30 of the halide gym lights with high energy-efficient T-5 lights.  Samek assured, “The remainder of the old lights will be updated to match the current T-5 lights over the gym floor.  The T-5 lights are brighter, use less power, and have an instant on-off feature—where as before if you turned them off, or someone accidently turned them off, they required 15 minutes for a cool-down period before they would turn back on again.”  Samek’s team is also installing HVAC controls to aid energy conservation in the sports center. 

“Corban is doing an excellent job at reducing its carbon footprint.” Bristow pointed out, “They’re reducing emissions and doing it in a manner that makes good fiscal sense.”