by Brian Stone
With the growing popularity of career technical education (CTE) programs and the increasing need for energy and resource conscious facilities, greater specialization of systems and spaces is needed when designing new high schools. JCJ Architecture is seeing this across many projects, with the following two projects serving as case studies.
Currently under construction in Bridgeport, Conn., the new Bullard-Havens Technical High School will feature 13 vocational programs within the 215,000sf building. In accordance with the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, all state-owned facilities must lead by example through reduced energy usage and carbon emissions. To this end, 81% of the building is served by a geothermal energy heating and cooling system using high efficiency water to water source heat pumps. Electric rooftop air handling units serving a network of variable air volume (VAV) units provide ventilation for this system. The remaining 19% of the building contains six industrial vocational shop suites served by energy recovery ventilation (ERV) and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pump systems. These all-electric system selections result in a building with net zero carbon emissions and significantly lower projected energy usage than the ASHRAE Standard 90.1 baseline. Post-construction installed photovoltaic panel arrays will create on-site renewable energy production, further contributing to the project’s sustainable design goals.
The new Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, located in Haverhill, Mass., is currently in its schematic design phase. The 380,000sf building will house 21 vocational programs. The project team conducted a life cycle cost analysis to consider mechanical system options. Factoring in energy usage and source, installation and operating costs, tax incentives, and other potential grants through the Mass Save program and the federal Inflation Reduction Act, they were able to make an informed decision to use a geothermal heat pump system for heating and cooling with a VAV displacement system for ventilation. Similar to Bullard-Havens, this fossil-fuel free system will allow the new Whittier building to operate with net zero carbon emissions.
The design of both schools will serve as a resource for teaching students about sustainable design. Students enrolled in sustainable architecture, electrical, and plumbing and heating programs will be able to see high-performance systems in place to learn about how they function and their component parts. The data provided by the Building Management Systems will provide a real world understanding of energy usage and how it varies by time of day and throughout the year. Beyond training within the shop spaces, each school teaches hands-on experience across multiple trades by building a residential scale wood structure that can be outfitted with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Bullard-Havens’ E-House will even feature a dedicated geothermal well for the students to practice installing and maintaining these net zero carbon systems.
The new Bullard-Havens Technical High School will be ready for occupancy in 2025 and will be a benchmark for sustainable technical school design in Connecticut. Employing similar strategies for the Whittier project will allow that school to follow the same successful path to welcoming students in 2027.
Brian Stone, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, MCPPO is associate/senior project architect at JCJ Architecture.