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Project: Phillips Exeter Academy – Central Boiler Plant (Phase I)
Location: Exeter, NH
The relationship between Philip’s Exeter Academy (PEA) and EnviroVantage began over 20 years ago when PEA became our first commercial client. Since then, we have completed many projects for the school ranging from exterior lead prep jobs on numerous buildings around campus to asbestos abatement in the athletic gyms.  EnviroVantage is frequently called on by PEA’s facilities managers whenever they have an emergency, such as broken pipes with asbestos insulation, asbestos floor tiles and mastics, mold from water damage, and many other hazardous jobs over the years.

PEA originally had 6 enormous boilers incased in layers of brick and asbestos that date back to the early 1900’s. Over the course of the years, one of the brick boilers was removed and a newer boiler was installed, but that still left the majority of the boilers outdated and inefficient.

Many factors led up to the school confirming the decision to start the long overdue upgrades to their boiler plant system and facility. One of the most important reasons was because it was a complete waste of economic resources. Other contributing factors included old valves and shut offs that could no longer hold back the scorching steam, multiple inconvenient fuel supplies, the inefficient heating of the boilers, the excess time it took to maintain them, and most importantly the overall safety of the managers working around the unsafe hazards that the boilers generated. The replacement of the old with new, more efficient boilers greatly increases the steam production efficiency of the heating plant, saves time and money, and eliminates the unnecessary risks to the employees working in the plant.

Phase I started with thousands of linear feet of asbestos removal which was resourcefully coordinated by one of EnviroVantage’s mostexperienced asbestos supervisors, Pete Carlburg. Multiple areas of asbestos on the steam lines needed to be abated allowing the mechanical contractor to cut and cap lines and re-route the steam to ensure there was minimal down time for the campus to be without hot water.

Once the steam was re-routed, EnviroVantage stepped back in to place the entire area around the boilers under containment and negative air. A massive plastic wall was erected to divide the containment from the rest of the boiler facility that needed to remain operational throughout the entire renovation.

Asbestos pipe insulation was to be removed using glove bags. This soon presented a dilemma because when the insulation was removed, the sheer heat of the pipes melted the bags and even the gloves of the men working on them. The pipes required at least 3 to 4 days to cool down, even after being shut down and drained. Despite the extreme conditions of the heat from the raging hot pipes, on top of the sizzling summer temperatures confined inside the containment, the asbestos workers never missed a beat. Tractor trailer after tractor trailer was filled to the brim until all of the asbestos was successfully removed for Phase I of the renovation.

Next, EnviroVantage jumped right in to the demolition portion of the project. We began the process by demolishing the suspended steam lines, ranging from 8 to 14 inches in thickness that needed to be removed. This was a dangerous task as the workers needed to maneuver around live steam, and gas lines.

Constant chipping and hammering on the brick shell of the boilers required taking shifts between both people and equipment. The core demo team of Troy Purington, Brian Tebbetts, and John Moore whittled away at one of the most complex interior demo jobs ever performed by EnviroVantage. An added difficulty was that the only way to remove the loads of debris was to somehow lift it up and out of the double doors located ten feet overhead. To accomplish this feat, we used two mini skid steers and the excavator to lift all the debris into a bucket which was attached to a lull on the outside of the building.

100% of the metal was recycled, the concrete went to a concrete crushing plant, and all other general waste went out separately to the appropriate places. The disposal company dumped and returned 2 to 3 twenty yard cans per day of concrete and brick until all three shells were fully removed. While taking out load after load of brick, several torch cutters were used to cut the steel tanks and tubes down from each set of boilers. Each brick shell had three huge steel tanks inside and about 150 steel tubes connecting the tanks together, all of which were meticulously cut in to sections, lowered down, and hauled out. We were then able to cut down the rest of the steel structures along with all of the beams and supports, leaving a bare floor and ceiling.

Next, the breeching and duct work were cut into large sections and removed. The team then sliced the concrete floor along the center of the column line, and the side on which the boilers had been was pulled up by jack hammering the concrete with the excavator. EnviroVantage scraped the area with skid steers picking up any loose debris that was left behind.

The crew then used a concrete sealer to lock down any leftover dust giving the next round of contractors a clean, dry space to come in and start the rebuild. After the new steel was built and a concrete floor was poured, EnviroVantage came back to coat the ceiling with fresh white paint and give the finished boiler room a clean, sharp look.