Piping hot savings for St James School

St James’ School, Ashford, Middlesex has been an Auditel client for some years. The relationship started when they asked us for advice about their ageing array of 5 gas boilers. One was no longer operational and the 400kW produced by the remaining plant was insufficient, running at or close to 100% capacity.  Around 1.1m kwh of gas per annum was being consumed at a cost of c. £35k.

The existing plant was subject to regular failure and the ongoing cost in maintenance and repair was up to £17,000 per year. The incumbent boiler servicing company had given an indicative quote of £176,400 – £205,000 for the work but the school was not totally clear whether this work would even solve all their issues.

Auditel carried out an initial (free) survey which showed:

  1. The distribution pipework throughout the buildings was aged and would require replacement in the near future. Any boiler replacement works would need to be carried out with this in mind.
  2. A plan to construct a new, sizeable building located quite close to the boiler house would need to be “designed into” the project adding a minor cost but potentially saving many £000’s later on.
  3. We proposed a ‘stage 1’ project to replace the primary plant incorporating a separate system with a plate heat exchanger to avoid any residue within the existing distribution system from affecting the new plant installation.
  4. To improve efficiency, the new plant would need to be sized to operate within its optimum efficiency range.
  5. A need for zoned heating in the future – at least per floor and possibly per ½ floor. Therefore, we proposed that the primary plant be designed to incorporate a low loss header capable of serving multiple / individually controlled circuits in the future.
  6. We were asked to consider the possibility of a biomass heating solution, but this was deemed as not economically viable given the specifics of the site.

Our objectives for the project

  1. To deliver surety that the solution is the right one to meet their unique needs and infrastructure and reduce maintenance requirements and energy usage in the future.
  2. To confirm that everything in the accepted quote would provide a complete solution, including permissions and asbestos issues.
  3. To obtain fully comparable quotations for the work to enable an easy best value decision.
  4. To enable substantial cost savings as a result of a competitive tendering process.
  5. To provide professional advice at all stages of the procurement process and potentially for us to take over and manage the whole process from inception to commissioning and beyond if they desired.
  6. To assist in financing the project in an optimal way should this be attractive, including researching current grants/government incentives.

Work undertaken

As a result of our initial report and shared objectives, St James’ School appointed us to manage the end to end implementation of the Phase 1 project. This began with a very detailed site survey to understand both the nature and extent of the existing system and also the needs and aspirations for the system in the medium term.

This exercise resulted in the production of our ‘future proofed’ report detailing full findings and recommendations with a full Performance Specification & Tender Pack to enable the acquisition of competitive tenders. The tender list was thoroughly researched to ensure that any contractor invited to bid was solvent and highly qualified for the work.

The timing was far from ideal as the tender was issued at the end of April 2017 and as all school heating jobs happen in the summer holidays installers tend to get booked months in advance. Only two (out of seven) potential responses were received.

The winning bid was from a company we have worked with before, JCH London, who quoted £136,200 plus the cost of asbestos removal (£14,000) for an elegant solution incorporating 4 Viessmann boilers with a capacity in excess of 500KW, management system and all ancillary equipment including meeting the needs of the new building with just one further boiler and pump to be added.