Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Public Schools wanted to add a state-of-the-art high school that would utilize energy efficient equipment and technology, while having a minimal impact on the environment.
Skyline High School is a center of innovative learning for today’s students, with a design that facilitates innovative learning in tomorrow’s students as well.
Peter Basso Associates provided mechanical and electrical engineering services for the four story, 380,450 square foot facility consisting of four flexible magnet classrooms, four learning communities, gymnasiums, cafeteria/commons, twelve lab spaces, decentralized administration, auditorium, black box theater and natatorium. Skyline High School was the second comprehensive high school in Michigan to earn a Silver LEED status from the U.S. Green Building Council. Total LEED points awarded were 3 shy of Gold status, far exceeding the District’s goal of Certified.
To deliver a state-of-the-art facility that minimized impact on the environment, the facility design included many features to improve energy use efficiency: geothermal heat pump system (no boilers or towers), air side energy recovery, demand control ventilation, dedicated outside air units with OA VAV control and demand control ventilation for each classroom heat pump, high efficiency heat pumps, variable speed drives on heat pump loop distribution pumps, geothermal field bypass based on building return water temperature, high efficiency lighting, lighting controls – using local controls in conjunction with occupancy sensor controls, and occupancy sensors for lighting and temperature. These features make good business sense too. Project engineers estimate that in 4 to 5 years, efficiencies created by these systems will pay for initial capital costs to implement them.
Heating and cooling for the entire building is provided by a closed loop geothermal heat pump system. One of the project’s unique challenges included installing one of the country’s largest horizontal geothermal fields comprised of over 80 miles of underground piping. Without a boiler or chiller plant, seasonal startups and shutdowns are avoided. Dedicated water source heat pumps for each space provide instant heating or cooling throughout the year. This is very beneficial for schools in the swing seasons of fall and spring.
The building was designed in a four-story configuration to reduce the building footprint. While this challenged the placement of the mechanical/electrical systems, it also provided the opportunity to isolate mechanical equipment in fifth floor penthouses, reducing HVAC noise and facilitating maintenance. The involvement of the maintenance staff throughout the design proved to be key in developing a useful, high performance building. All systems and utilities (including electric, gas and water) are monitored continuously and trended. This allows building operators to view and adjust building performance over time. The building was fully commissioned by a 3rd party and the design engineer and commissioning agent teamed throughout the first year of occupancy to give the building operators additional insight and keep the building performing to the design intent.
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