Schools are important community investments – institutions responsible for nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, for generations. In many cases, the facilities are required to outlive their expected useful lives: rehabbed, repaired, and expanded, over-and-over again for 50 years, or more. To meet the long-term needs of such a facility, presents unique design and engineering challenges, to keep students and teachers safe, in a learning-friendly, comfortable environment, and to keep costs low.
This fall, the community of Atoka, Oklahoma retired their aging elementary school that had been serving local families for the previous 80 years. The voters passed a bond issue to fund the upgrade to the district’s elementary school facilities.
And what an upgrade it is.
Opened to the public, new and returning teachers and students in August, 2013 – the new Atoka Elementary School (Atoka, OK) has significant innovations in the design; MPW Engineering was an important partner in engineering cost-effective systems, and one of the cost-effective-solutions is the facilities’ variable refrigerant flow system (VRF).
VRF, though utilized widely throughout Europe and Asia, is relatively new to the U.S. A VRF system can, simultaneously, heat and cool a facility by removing heat from the parts of the building that are being heated by the sun, and transfer that energy to parts of the facility that need to be heated. Heating and cooling requirements are dynamically and efficiently optimized throughout the day as a facility experiences different thermal loads from solar, people and other environmental factors. As the system responds to these dynamic needs, costs and comfort are maximized.
Key to the performance of a VRF system are the variable speed compressors, which can operate at more efficient and intermediate levels, and reduced infrastructure (ductwork) throughout a facility. In most cases, the total cost of equipment, installation, and operational costs are much lower than traditional HVAC configurations. Besides comfort and reduced costs, a VRF system contributes to environmental benefits, such Energy Efficiency, and Indoor Environmental Quality.
MPW Engineering is grateful for the opportunity to be a strategic partner of communities responsible for building the next generation of educational facilities.