Luzerne County Courthouse to get standalone heating system

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
O’Neill -

WILKES-BARRE — The Luzerne County Courthouse will soon have its own heating system instead of relying on steam delivered through an aging and deteriorating underground pipe linked to a boiler plant near the prison on Water Street.

Two new courthouse boilers are scheduled for delivery Thursday, said Edmund O’Neill, the head of the county’s operational services division.

The gas-fired condensing boilers, which are about 6.5 feet tall and 2,170 pounds each, will be carried into the courthouse subbasement by a small crane, O’Neill said Tuesday.

Pennsylvania-based McClure Company, which is handling the project, had originally proposed installing the boilers in fourth-floor courthouse jury rooms that are no longer used because they are not accessible to the disabled.

That option was considered because the boiler intake and exhaust lines could be installed at the roof to ensure proper venting, O’Neill said.

Instead, contractors and the county administration found a solution to run the lines through a subbasement opening that used to be a window on the northwestern side of the building.

A louvered vent will disguise the equipment from the outside so it won’t create a “visual obstruction,” O’Neill said.

The subbasement option also requires less plumbing.

County officials have stopped keeping important records in the subbasement due to past flooding damage.

O’Neill said the boilers will be elevated.

“I have been told that they will be at a level where they would not be impacted if we had a reenactment of 2011,” O’Neill said, referring to that year’s record Susquehanna River flooding.

County council voted in November to hire McClure for $3.98 million to complete the boiler work and other county government energy projects.

The company’s contract guarantees $5 million in savings over 12 years on energy expenses, operational costs and avoided capital repairs, the administration said.

The project includes central steam plant upgrades. The plant has three boilers, but one is inoperable and another is too large and not expected to meet state inspection standards, officials said. The plant’s capacity will be reduced when the courthouse abandons the steam line, but it will still serve the prison and three other nearby county-owned buildings.

McClure’s contract also includes prison plumbing and laundry upgrades, a prison hot water system replacement, installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures at nine county facilities, and weatherproofing of county buildings.


By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.