New forest biomass facility saves school $76,000

New forest biomass facility will save school district $76,000 per year

[Oregon Department of Forestry] The Enterprise School District today cut the ribbon to formally launch a new forest biomass energy facility which seeks to save the District $ 76,000 per year in energy costs and use existing forest wood wastes in Wallowa County.The 1.5 million dollar project is the first biomass boiler system to be installed in an Oregon school district in over fifty years. The biomass project, which took nearly a year to complete, is the first project of its type to qualify for Oregon’s new Renewable Business Energy Tax credit, which provided almost a third of the cost.  The project allows money to stay in the local economy, while the boiler system makes use of wood that would otherwise increase forest fire risk.
“This project demonstrates that by working together we can restore forest health, create economic growth in rural communities, and help Oregon meet its ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions,” states Governor Ted Kulongoski. “This project is a model for other communities across the state.”


McKinstry, in collaboration with a team of local contractors, constructed the building that houses the boiler and biomass materials, performed comprehensive lighting retrofits and controls upgrades, and provided a series of energy conservation improvements.

“McKinstry enjoyed being involved in the project for so many reasons,” says Cam Hamilton, Business Development Manager for McKinstry’s Portland office. “It was a great renewable and energy efficiency project, the people of Enterprise are wonderful, the school district board and administration were engaged and involved, and it keeps the resources in the local economy.  It is a win for all that are involved.”

The biomass boiler is designed to use renewable fuel sourced from the remnants of forest management activities and wood manufacturing residues provided by local companies in Wallowa and Union counties.  The boiler was manufactured by Oregon-based SolaGen.

Benefits of forest biomass

The Oregon Department of Forestry in La Grande worked closely with Wallowa Resources in Enterprise and other project partners to develop a strategy that would ensure the school district of a long-term supply of biomass fuel, while supporting objectives within Wallowa County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Fuel for the biomass boiler is sourced from by-products of active forest management and wood residue from the manufacturing process.  Forest biomass is generated by fire fuels reduction in forests, a process that assists in mitigating forest fires; commercial timber harvest, timber stand improvement activities, and non-commercial thinning, which includes pruning and tree removal.  Trees from this source are often used in renewable energy production (heat, steam, electricity, and bio-fuels). Wood manufacturing residues including bark, sawdust, chips, and veneer cores provide additional sources of raw material for renewable energy production.

The Enterprise School District’s new biomass system is estimated to save over 45,000 gallons of fuel oil per year, and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.016 million pounds, equivalent to removing 67 cars from the road annually or planting 138 acres of trees in Oregon each year.  Additionally, the School District anticipates that the biomass system will provide an annual energy cost savings of $76,000.

About McKinstry and ODF

Established in 1960, McKinstry is full service design, build, operate and maintain (DBOM) firm.  McKinstry’s professional staff and trades people deliver a variety of services including mechanical engineering, construction (HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, electrical), architectural metals, 24/7 service and maintenance, energy/LEED services and onsite facility management to clients. Headquartered in Seattle, the company also offers high performance design build and facility management services at branch offices in Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  As an early adopter of the DBOM process, McKinstry advocates collaborative and sustainable solutions that are designed to ensure occupant comfort, improve systems efficiency, reduce facility operational costs and ultimately optimize client profitability for the life of their building.

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The Oregon Department of Forestry was established in 1911. It is led by the State Forester who is appointed by the Oregon Board of Forestry. Statutes direct the State Forester to act on all matters pertaining to forestry, including collecting and sharing information about the conditions of Oregon’s forests, protecting forestlands, and conserving forest resources. Department activities include protecting 15.8 million acres of forestland (most privately owned) from fire; administering forest practices laws; assisting landowners and managing state-owned forests.

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