Decentralizing the Heating System for Efficiency

Decentralizing the Heating System for Efficiency

Key Characteristics:

  • Decentralizing heating system;
  • Retrofit;
  • Occupied space;
  • High efficiency boilers


In Emmittsburg, MD, FEMA’s campus of approximately eight buildings was being heated by one centralized steam system.  At one time this campus was part of a larger complex in which even more buildings were heated from the same source.  When these eight buildings were purchased for their current purpose, the heating system remained intact, meaning FEMA had to purchase steam from the centralized system still owned by the original proprietor. This system of heating was not only expensive but it was also inefficient, both in terms of energy use and in regulating temperature for each individual building.

The campus needed a less expensive and a more energy efficient way to heat each building to accommodate the varying uses of each area.  However, these buildings were occupied daily, so the work had to be accomplished while maintaining comfort and operations for their occupants and customers.


W. L. Gary Company set to work to decentralize the campus.  Each building was outfitted with its own boiler packages to replace the steam heating.  The boilers installed were Energy Star Rated with a high AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating.

We worked in each building on campus individually.  We first installed one to four compact boilers in each building’s mechanical room depending on its requirements.  Once the boilers were installed and ready for operation we tied them into the current systems in the building.  Then we shut off the steam to the building.  This allowed for a seamless change over from one heating source to another without disturbing the building occupants.

Also in the boiler rooms, electric unit heaters were installed to keep the room warm enough to prevent the water in the pipes from freezing.  Two additional boilers were installed and tied into the lines under the sidewalks to melt the snow on campus creating a safer campus environment.

With high efficiency boilers installed in each of the buildings, there is no further need for the campus to purchase steam.  Each building is able to regulate its own heat, creating comfortable environments for all building occupants and creating a more energy efficient campus.

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