SEDRO-WOOLLEY — A state-of-the-art boiler system is now heating Sedro-Woolley High School.

A recently constructed building attached to the east side of the school boasts a pair of Cleaver-Brooks ClearFire-CE boilers and their accompanying array of digital displays, pipes and valves.

Construction on the system began in May.

The school also installed a new high-efficiency water heater, replacing yet another failing system.

Sedro-Woolley School District Facilities Manager Ken Franks resembled a proud, doting parent while showing off the school’s new boilers.

“This is going to work so well,” he said. “These boilers are so much more efficient, and plus, all the mechanicals were on this side (east) of the building so we had a spot to build here.”

The new heating system, which will serve the school’s main building, couldn’t have come at a better time as fall approaches and winter looms on the horizon.

While the final costs are still being tallied, district Executive Director of Business & Operations Brett Greenwood expected the project — including construction of the new building — to be about $1.9 million.

The district received a $300,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce, and a capital levy approved by voters in 2020 is covering the rest of the project’s cost, he said.

“This is the marquee project of that levy and we were very pleased the community passed that (levy) and were willing to fund it. We couldn’t not have undertaken this project without that.”

And that grant application led to another windfall for the district in regard to the high school campus lighting, which is scheduled to be switched to LED in the near future.

“They (Department of Commerce) contacted us and said they noticed we had some real old lighting as well. They informed us they had other grant money available for (replacing the lighting),” Greenwood said. “So we wrote another grant for the lighting and we expect that to be about $150,000.”

High efficiency means significant savings for the school district.

“The old boilers have a 3-inch gas line running to each one,” Franks said. “We have one, 2-inch line coming in here for both boilers.

“And those two (boilers) work together and it’s on demand. As demand lessens, they ramp down and they will also go back and forth with one running for awhile and then the other. If it’s a heavy-use day, then they will both light up.”

Franks said the boilers are expected to pay for themselves in five or six years.

“It’s going to be quite the savings,” he said. “This is a real good thing.”

The home for the new boilers is a far cry from the school’s old boiler room located underneath the gym.

The old iron boilers — also made by Cleaver-Brooks — had been heating the school since 1963.

In recent years, it has been a game of hide-and-seek when it came to finding replacement parts for the old boilers.

“They were constantly breaking down,” Franks said. “You just never knew what to expect when you arrived in the morning. They just weren’t reliable anymore. And plus, they weren’t efficient at all.”

Those boilers will be removed next summer in Phase II of the project and replaced with smaller models responsible for heating the gym.

— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter:@goskagit, Facebook.com/VinceReports/

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