Project Profile: West Springfield High School

Over the course of a school day, as occupancy levels fluctuate within a space, the variable demand for cooling and heating can make it difficult to keep a space comfortable for students, faculty and staff. Therefore, an HVAC system that can meet shifting comfort needs is particularly beneficial for a school. This is certainly true for West Springfield High School, in Springfield, Virginia. West Springfield High serves over 4,000 students, and as part of a major renovation, the school sought a more effective way to keep everyone comfortable. The solution was CITY MULTI® Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric)

Mike Stepp, president, AMS Contractors, Inc., Lorton, Virginia, worked with APG to incorporate the owner’s design and selected Mitsubishi Electric VRF for the school. Stepp believed Mitsubishi Electric VRF was the best option because it could keep everyone comfortable and fulfill new requirements from the school’s design team.
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He said, “In Fairfax County, they’re leaning toward using VRF systems for schools because it’s incredibly efficient, costs less to operate and saves a great deal of floor space. It virtually eliminates mechanical rooms. A typical high school would have a boiler room which is a large room filled with boilers, water heaters, chillers, pumps and all kinds of piping, and with VRF, they’re able to convert that floor space into usable classrooms or a teacher’s lounge.”

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Stepp submitted Mitsubishi Electric VRF to the school because of his team’s experience with the system, his confidence in its quality and its ease of installation. He continued, “When it came to selecting a brand, the school would have accepted another as long as the system met the specifications, but every system is different and you have to be aware of those differences rather than just looking at the prices. We chose Mitsubishi Electric because it offered the best design and our people have extensive training from Aireco on the products. We’re very comfortable with it.”
According to Stepp, the HVAC installation was also one of the easier parts to the school’s renovation because of the system’s versatility. He said, “VRF offers an easy installation during renovation because you can install the new system without removing the old one and that’s important during the construction phase because the school wants to keep the air conditioning as long as possible.”

When the renovation is completed within the next year, students, faculty and staff will enjoy year-round comfort at West Springfield High School thanks to their brand-new Mitsubishi Electric VRF.

How VRF Solves IAQ Challenges in Educational Facilities

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is especially important in educational facilities. Viruses, bacteria, allergens, dust, gases and other contaminants circulate inside, causing breathing hazards and bad odors. As a result, schools face a host of mandates and codes relating to IAQ. If you’re looking for a product that can meet those requirements, here’s a few reasons why we here at the Advanced Products Group (APG), a division of Aireco Supply, Inc., have chosen to use Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF):

  • Advanced Filters. VRF’s indoor units have filters that capture and remove contaminants that can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, spread illness and impact IAQ. Some manufacturers offer platinum deodorizing filters, which use nanotechnology to absorb odors to neutralize the worst smells. VRF’s filters are easily accessible and washable, and usable for up to 10 years.
  • Zoning Capabilities. Isolating air handling within a classroom helps contain a sick student’s germs — a boon to IAQ. Otherwise, one child’s sneeze can get passed along to many people.

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  • Constant Comfort. With traditional, non-inverter technology, HVAC systems tend to cycle a lot — turning on and off repeatedly. The frequent cycling causes major temperature swings and, potentially, health concerns. VRF has the ability to meet and maintain the load of a space.
  • Easy Integration. Schools typically have a high outside air requirement. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to address these needs while still maintaining, and even adding to a VRF system’s energy efficiency. The approach considered will vary based on the project’s climate, but common solutions include bringing outside air into the VRF indoor units via inline fans, adding an Energy Recovery Ventilator or a Dedicated Outside Air System.

As VRF has continued to innovate and improve, it has evolved from being a good solution for educational facilities to the solution.