Global Engineering Solutions: New STEM Middle School at McKinley High School

Existing building retrofit at an educational facility.


McKinley MS Science Lab. Courtesy: Joseph RomeoEngineering firm: Global Engineering Solutions
2014 MEP Giants rank: 84
Project: New STEM Middle School at McKinley High School
Address: Washington, D.C., U.S.
Building type: Educational facility
Project type: Existing building retrofit
Engineering services: Electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, and energy/sustainability
Project timeline: 8/27/2012 to 2/14/2014
MEP/FP budget: $7,000,000


McKinley Technology High School is a public high school and the hub of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program for the district. Combined with its innovative college preparatory program, the school is positioned to become one of the highest performing high schools in the nation that prepares students for the challenges of working in a competitive global market. Over 60,000 sq ft of surplus space in this historic urban school building was repurposed to accommodate 340 students in a new STEM middle school program with a construction cost of just over $13 million.

McKinley MS Classroom. Courtesy: Joseph RomeoSolutions

Global Engineering Solutions (GES) provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP and FP) engineering design and construction administration services for the high-performance education space. The MEP and FP systems reinforce the architect's design, which focuses on creating collaborative and project-based learning spaces that are the core of the STEM program. The project features new, flexible classrooms and laboratories equipped for multiple 21st-century learning modes. An overhead distribution system supports the electrical, IT, and telecommunications requirements of the laboratories and provides the flexibility to accommodate multiple styles of teaching with hands-on, project-based learning. The project recently earned a LEED-CI Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first public school renovation in the district to earn a LEED rating of this level. Points were given for GES' design of the high-performance HVAC system, water efficiency, and the use of energy-efficient lighting. GES engineers designed an energy-efficient four-pipe fan coil mechanical system using incremental room units with a combination of fans and single coils for both heating and cooling. Each fan coil unit is served by either chilled water or hot water from the main central distribution system. The air is recirculated through the unit by the fan, heated or cooled, and filtered before being discharged back into the space. Outside air is directly ducted to each space for mixing with the return air. All spaces are ventilated at a constant flow when in use to maintain indoor air quality. High-efficiency water faucets and low-flow fixtures helped reduce potable water use by 31.9% from the calculated baseline design. Energy-efficient lighting minimized the lighting power density, while daylighting controls and room occupancy sensors reduced the overall energy consumption in the project.

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