Yeah, I don't think copper pipe for that one. Actually having been a part of that kind of operation, that seems like it is about right for a new boiler install. Actually kinda low like they missed some thing. They thing you gotta understand is what it takes to do the job. In EFM terms that would be 25- efm 520's set up in a row to provide the right heat output. You have the initial engineering, the state oversite (SED), the bid process, the awarding of bids, the submittal process, the acceptance with changes to the proposed equipment by the engineering firm. All that is handled by the management firm or General contractor depending on the job requirements. Once the job begins, you have the demolition phase, which has to be pretty large because a boiler needed to heat an old at least 50 years old building that was probably insulated to the value of the times was and still is pretty big. There might be asbestos involved ( cringe). Just getting the site properly prepped for a new boiler install is a large undertaking.
Installing the new boiler system would be an expensive venture also. Nowadays they run several smaller high efficiency boilers in a primary secondary arrangement. The 6" to 12" mains would have to be rearranged to facilitate this. Much of the work is done off site to use shop facilities. Add the new electrical upgrade power wise, and a whole new control system to smooth out the highs and lows of the temperature fluctuations and the project gets bigger and bigger. The customer isn't getting the cheapest boilers on the market either. They are getting the above average ones specified by the engineering firm. They are called SPEC GRADE. All the new pumping upgrades. Can't put new boilers in without getting the latest and greatest pumping / VSD combos. Not taco 007's. Maybe 25-50 hp three phase in parallel. Then there is the refinishing of the boiler room. The floors, walls, and ceilings get the full treatment. All areas are brought up to fire code. The system is tested and certified by the proper agency.
All said and done, that project is actually quite the good deal by that school district. You have to consider that in Connecticutt, all labor to work on a school or government project has to hold a workman's license. That means certified welders, electricians, steam and piping fitters, carpenters. All workman. That doesn't mean just Union either. The going rate for that kind of labor in Connecticutt is around $75 per hour on average. That is the cost to the contractor. Add 10% profit and 15% overhead to that figure and the labor is costing over $100 per hour. That is a minimum figure. it doesn't take long paying 10 men 40k per week to bring that $1.3 million figure right into focus. When it is all over, that figure is covered by the savings of installation of a high efficiency boiler system with all the bells and whistles. They usually don't put them in unless it's cost effective. There is usually more involved that a simple boiler change out. There are additional items included. Sort of like a political bill.