Project profile: High school MEP system installation

Newly installed MEP systems at the Waterbury Career Academy aim at generating significant energy savings as the energy model was designed to exceed ASHRAE 90.1-2007 by 63.4%.

By Consulting Engineering Services Inc. November 4, 2014

Project name: Waterbury Career Academy High School

Project type: New construction

Engineering Firm: Consulting Engineering Services Inc.

Building type: Educational facilities

Location: Waterbury, CT

Timeline: 2010 – August 2013

Building details

The Waterbury Career Academy, an intra-district high school, was a new construction project consisting of 150,000 sq ft. It focuses on teaching science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM skills. Engineering Technology features a manufacturing shop, engineering lab, CAD I/II lab; Computer Systems has a Cisco shop, electronic engineering lab, instructional computer lab; Human Services contains a Health and Safety lab, human services classroom, preschool classroom; and, Health Services is supported with a medical skills lab, physical therapy lab, simulated clinic with nurse’s station, and exam room. The primary design challenge was to fit the square footage required and the equivalent area of a football field on a very steep site, while preserving existing wetlands and other natural features.

Project details

The project team provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing as well as fire protection engineering design services, utilizing AutoDesk Revit MEP 2010 for the new construction of the Waterbury Career Academy. The project team also provided building modeling services. The HVAC systems include 150 geothermal bores to cover the buildings heating and cooling load. Water to water heat pumps located in the ground floor mechanical room convert the geothermal ground source water into building heating and cooling water. The majority of the building is ventilated, air conditioned and heated utilizing an active chilled beam system connected to a dedicated outside air system.

The dedicated outdoor air system provides 100% dry, tempered outside air to the chilled beams. This unit contains a desiccant wheel and a total energy recovery wheel, chilled water coil and hot water coil to dehumidify and reheat the outside air efficiently. The kitchen, cafeteria and gym are served by an air handling unit with chilled water coils and hot water coils. Separate zones are provided by VAV boxes with hot water reheat coils and radiant floor heating was provided in the cafeteria for first stage of heating. Locker rooms have a heat recovery ventilator to reclaim energy and all other restrooms are exhausted through the dedicated outdoor air units to reclaim energy.

Electrically, the highlights include a 50kW rooftop photovoltaic system located on the gymnasium roof which will provide $15,000 per year in energy savings. Pendent lighting fixtures are provided throughout the building with daylight dimming controls. There are two levels of lighting controls provided in each classroom and the offices. A generator will support emergency lighting, freeze protection, fire alarm system and the fire pump. The school was designed in accordance with Connecticut’s High Performance Building standards and is LEED Gold equivalent.

Project results

The Waterbury Career Academy has been fully functioning for less than one year. The systems included will produce a significant energy savings as the energy model concluded that this new school was designed to exceed ASHRAE 90.1-2007 by 63.4%. Project engineers used various high energy efficient systems such as low flow fixtures in the bathrooms that consume 20% less water in aggregate as compare to base levels calculated by meeting the Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 fixture performance requirements. They also contribute to the 30% reduction of total potable water usage. The installation of on-site renewable energy micro-inverters will provide at least 3% of the building’s energy needs while also providing $15,000 per year in energy savings. This is based upon the US Department of Energy Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey for estimated electricity usage. Each classroom is equipped with one row of dimming 0-10V lights on a daylight sensor to conserve energy as well as a second row of full linearly dimmed lights. In addition the indoor light measurements confirmed that both typical classrooms and office receive an average luminance above 25 footcandles. It is also predicted that the HVAC systems will provide approximately $475,000 per year in energy savings.