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Merrimack Valley High School

A High-Performance School for
a Lower Overall Cost

Merrimack Valley High School Gets an
“Extreme” Makeover

Energy improvements can cost less than conventional building practices. Because the performance of the building envelope leads to a much lower design load, the mechanical systems can be downsized significantly, thus reducing the initial cost of construction. As a bonus, this saves energy for the life of the building.

While long-term energy savings are important, a high-performance building envelope also saves during construction. By using the Cost Reduction Protocol (CRP) to guarantee the building's performance, the mechanical system can be “right-sized” to save a portion of the cost of construction. With a rigorous quality assurance program and compliance testing, the CRP guarantees the performance standard will be met. Merrimack Valley High School had a total building cost of $9.4 million with major additions of 138,000 square feet. A high-performance building envelope cost only $133,000 and saved eight times this investment in HVAC system costs. The innovative HVAC system, developed for the unusually low design load, cost at least 25% less than it would have with a conventional building envelope. This resulted in savings of $946,000, or about $6.85 per square foot according to data provided by Banwell Architects and Bill Root of GWR Engineering.

High-performance building envelope resulted in savings of $946,000 in the initial construction. At the end of the first full heating season, the operators of the facility reported that they used only half of the expected fuel.

The CRP savings are not just realized during the construction process. These savings are ongoing for the life of the building in the form of lower operating and fuel costs, proving that building green can be a win-win proposition.

Before Completion

Boiler Room

Boiler Room

Estimated Standard
Actual High-Performance
Total HVAC System Cost $4,267,000 $3,200,000
Total Shell $33,320 $133,280
Total High-Performance
design and commissioning
$0 $10,900
Total additional work by building
envelope related trades
$0 $10,000
Total Shell & HVAC system cost $4,300,000 $3,354,000
Total net additional cost or savings $945,800
Total building cost (excluding site
$10,350,350 $9,404,950
Square foot costs
($/sq. ft. of floor space)
Building $74.90 $68.05
HVAC $30.87 $23.16
High Performance Shell including
all related costs
$0.24 $1.12
Subtotal $106.01 $92.33
Savings ($/sq. ft. of floor space)
Savings ($/sq. ft. of wall area) $25.16