Project Profile: Casey Middle School

Firm name: EMC Engineers

Project building name and location: Casey Middle School, Boulder, Colo.

Type of building and type of project: Elementary School, New Constuction

Project completion date: July 2010

Engineering challenges and solutions:


Casey Middle School opened in August 2010. The 107,000-sq-ft high-performance educational facility incorporated advanced insulation systems, ample daylighting features, precise lighting level controls, renewable geoexchange heat pump technology, and heat recovery ventilation systems.

The budget for the entire project was $24.7 million, and the building was completed at a cost of $26.6 million. EMC’s participation in the project began in January 2008 and the building was completed in July 2010, two months after the estimated completion date but in time for the 2010 fall semester.

Every design issue was taken into consideration to make Casey one of the most efficient, healthy, and modern schools possible. Achieving the aggressive energy-saving goals demonstrates how high-performance engineering can create sustainable, cost-effective educational facilities.

With its low energy use, Casey is very cost-effective for Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) to operate. As a result, the school will receive a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold rating and it may achieve Platinum status, which would make Casey the first school in the state to achieve such recognition.

To transform Casey into a viable school again after being inefficient and outdated for years, EMC applied a number of techniques to make the school both attractive and energy-efficient for BVSD. EMC incorporated the following innovative design features in its construction:

  • A geoexchange system as the primary heating and cooling source. It uses a system of underground pipe loops routed in 70 vertical boreholes, each 370 ft deep, located beneath the athletic fields
  • Geoexchange water-to-air heat pumps serving each classroom. A variable primary/secondary pumping configuration is used to circulate condenser water between the heat pumps and the geoexchange field
  • A dedicated outdoor air delivery system that uses heat recovery and delivers fresh outdoor air to the individual heat pumps
  • Variable speed exhaust fans with variable speed make-up air units serving the kitchen
  • A variable speed, gas-fired air handling system with economizer control and demand controlled ventilation for the gymnasium
  • Three water-to-air geoexchange heat pumps with demand control ventilation and energy recovery in the cafeteria
  • A variable speed geoexchange rooftop heat pump unit with energy recovery and demand control ventilation in the auditorium
  • A gas-fired condensing boiler domestic water heating system that uses a recirculation loop controlled by an occupancy schedule for the core of the building. Additional point-of-use water heaters are used for the extremities of the building to reduce hot water circulation, piping, installation costs, and energy losses
  • High-efficiency toilets, pint urinals, and low-flow faucets and showers, which together achieve more than 40% water savings
  • A direct digital control and energy management system that assures the energy savings and operating cost reductions. This is done through scheduling, economizer controls, heat recovery controls, variable speed fan and pump control, controlled ventilation, and trending of operational points for “tuning” the building.

As a result, Casey Middle School’s capacity has increased by 20,000 sq ft and 200 students. More importantly, the new Casey Middle School will provide students and staff with a healthier, more comfortable school that, while larger in size and capacity, will have lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint than the original school.




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