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Montana Western Kicks Off Heating Plant Upgrade Project

February 11, 2022

During the 67th Legislative Session last spring, House Bill 5 appropriated $2.495 million to the University of Montana Western for heating plant upgrades.

Montana Western Campus

This fall, GPD Engineering from Great Falls completed the engineering design and construction drawings. In a competitive bid process, 4Gs Plumbing and Heating from Missoula has been selected as the general contractor by the State Architecture and Engineering Division.

The primary scope of the project is to replace the existing biomass (wood chip) boiler with a dual fuel natural gas boiler. The project scope also includes replacement of ancillary equipment including the deaerator tank, surge tank, feed water pumps, new equipment controls, upgraded environmental controls, and building envelope improvements. This new boiler, coupled with two other existing natural gas boilers, will result in a best-in-class heating plant.

A pre-construction meeting was held recently on campus with the general contractor and numerous sub-contractors. The sub-contractors selected include several Dillon contractors who have been awarded substantial portions of the project. The local contractors include Bridger Creek Development, West Electric, Beaverhead Glass, and Van Marter Interior Finishing.

It is expected that contractors will begin on-site work in early March 2022. Work will continue throughout the spring and summer with expected project completion to be September 2022. Delivery lead time for many of the larger equipment purchases are forecasted as being 25-30 weeks out, so orders have already been placed for these items. A slow-down in on-site work during the May/June timeframe is expected as contractors will most likely be in a holding pattern waiting on equipment deliveries at that time.

Construction activity is confined to the heating plant and the immediate vicinity. This area of campus sees high usage in terms of vehicle and foot traffic. The construction areas will be clearly marked and cordoned off as required with temporary fencing, barriers, and caution tape. Additional updates will be forthcoming as construction progresses.

“This is a very exciting project for the campus. About 95% of the campus heating and hot water needs are provided using steam as the heating medium. This project will provide redundant systems, a high level of reliability, and accommodate a 40% increase in user demand as our campus needs grow,” said Montana Western Director of Facility Services, Michael Brown.

For more information about the project, please contact Michael Brown: [email protected] or 406-683-7145.