Case Study: Consulting Engineering

Canoe Creek K-8 School

School District of Osceola CountySt. Cloud, Florida

Florida's First Zero Carbon Ready Prototype School

In response to the quickly growing state population, the 1998 Florida legislative session introduced a statute to encourage prototypical designs for new public schools, enabling districts to reduce the time and cost of developing new facilities. However, 25 years later, the MEP engineering accompanying the prototype design has not kept up with the increasing demand for sustainable, carbon-neutral designs or enhanced IAQ preferences. Canoe Creek K-8 School challenged this notion and transformed a tried-and-true school prototype into Florida’s first zero carbon-ready prototype K-8 school. Serving 1,480 kindergarten through 8th grade students, Canoe Creek set out to be the premier environmental STEM school in the School District of Osceola County (SDOC).

The Challenges

  • Establish a prototype K-8 school for 21st century learning
  • Provide a high-performance school under an accelerated three-month design schedule
  • Pursue zero-carbon design in a renovation and addition project
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Another successful high-performance building criteria project at Osceola Schools is saving $86,000 in annual energy savings. In addition, a very tight building envelope allowed for an 84-ton reduction in chiller capacity, providing $210,000 in first cost savings. Well don, CMTA MEP engineers! Created with Sketch.

Marc Clinch

Chief Facilities Officer, Osceola County School District

The Solutions

After recent success at NeoCity Academy, the district’s and state’s first Zero Energy school, CMTA was hired to provide mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design, as well as technology design, for Canoe Creek K-8 School. The addition and renovation project includes a new, two-story classroom building, administrative and dining buildings, and a gymnasium. Other project components include telecommunications, access control and security design, and site utilities.

The new construction of Canoe Creek K-8 was designed to achieve drastic energy reduction with the potential for future roof-mounted on-site renewables. High-efficiency water-source heat pumps (WSHP) with a Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) condition the building and deliver fresh air to the spaces. Domestic hot water heat pumps and water-cooled IT systems are tied into the condenser loop. In addition, the lighting energy expended is only a fraction of what a typical school uses, thanks to a lighting power density of 0.33 W/ft2 and occupancy and daylight controls. An envelope mockup was also built on-site to validate and encourage proper envelope construction techniques. This mockup helped the high-performance envelope pass the building pressure test at an ultra-low 0.06 cfm/ft2@75Pa. Finally, the school incorporates several high-performance measures in the full kitchen, including leveraging ventless combi ovens and dishwashers that eliminate the need for Type I hoods and grease-laden ductwork, fans, or makeup air systems, as well as walk-ins with water-cooled condensers.

The RFQ for this project married two very different goals for SDOC: to provide a high-performance school with a low EUI and to utilize a prototypical design with an accelerated three-month design schedule. The prototype that was initially used was programmed for VAV air handling units and an air-cooled chiller plant. Without compromising on the total square footage dedicated to MEP and the general locations of the mechanical spaces, the design team was able to optimize the adopted prototype floor plan to accommodate a DOAS, distributed water-source heat pumps, condenser water loop with fluid cooler, and a water-to-water heat pump loop. From an MEP perspective, challenging the prototype process has allowed the team to continually refine and optimize within the prototype framework versus simply maintaining the status quo between consecutive prototypes.

Florida was one of the top 10 fastest-growing states between 2010 and 2020, with a population expanding by 15.6%. By comparison, Osceola County grew by nearly 50% within that same time. By choosing to incorporate high-performance design strategies within an existing prototype, the district will meet the continued student enrollment demand while simultaneously decreasing the district’s projected carbon footprint over the lifetime of the schools. On average, Florida schools are constructed for a lifespan of 50 years, and choosing a high-performance design for each new building prevents ~13,100 MT CO2e from entering the atmosphere, offsetting the work of 310 acres of U.S. Forests in one year.

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) was also a high priority for the project. An energy-saving strategy often used in Florida schools is to reduce ventilation in learning spaces by leveraging bi-polar ionization technology. However, instead of following a typical design, the DOAS at Canoe Creek delivers decoupled outside air to all classrooms at a rate 20% above those established within ASHRAE 62.1-2016. The outside air is MERV 13 filtered, with a CO2 setpoint of 1,000 PPM in each learning space. Conditioning is provided by decentralized water-source heat pumps, utilizing hot gas reheat for active dehumidification, UV lights for coil cleaning, and custom filter racks that are MERV-13 capable. The active dehumidification within each learning space, paired with dedicated temperature control, ensure each space is designed to ASHRAE 55-2017 standards. The air change rate within the learning spaces follows the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s recommendation for pandemic resilience.

The Results

Due to the innovative, energy efficient design strategies implemented at Canoe Creek, the school achieved the district’s energy use goals. Using Integrated Environmental Solutions Virtual Environment (IESVE) modeling software, the new building was modeled to operate at 21 EUI. One year of energy data shows the actual building is outpacing this estimate at 20 EUI.

Based on the success of Canoe Creek, the SDOC is replicating the design at the new Sunbridge K-8 and Roan Bridge K-8 schools. CMTA was proud to continue working with SDOC to create a high performance, sustainable building for Canoe Creek students.

Canoe Creek Energy Use