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Project Spotlight: Houston ISD – Sterling Aviation High School

by Kat Phelps, Marketing Manager

When the Houston Independent School District was ready to replace one of their existing schools, they took the opportunity to really explore new horizons. The three-story, 252,000 sf Ross Shaw Sterling Aviation High School includes an aviation magnet program to produce the next generation of pilots, mechanics, engineers, and aviation leaders.

Stantec created a unique, aviation-themed design that includes a three-story glass atrium entryway featuring an adjacent airplane hangar where students will gain first-hand technical experience working on aircraft. Additional areas within the school include an athletics center, a fine arts area, a life skills area, and administrative offices.

The learning spaces were designed for flexibility and transparency. There are various sizes and configurations of spaces, with moveable partitions and glass to engage and interest the students. In the aviation program, the school also offers flight simulators, mechanical and airframe studies, and aircraft maintenance instruction. The combination of core academic courses as well as specialized, career-focused courses helps these students integrate learning and work-world experiences.

DBR provided mechanical, electrical, and technology design for the additions and renovations. For mechanical systems, we designed a new water-cooled central plant to feed the entire campus, using high-efficiency centrifugal chillers and a variable flow primary distribution pumping system. Air-side mechanical systems include a high-performance VAV design, with low temperature supply air which allows a reduction in the airflow rate required to keep the building comfortable. This lower airflow results in a lower installed cost with smaller duct sizes, fewer air devices, and smaller fan motors. The system saves energy by reducing the fan power required. A Building Automation System was designed to manage the outside air delivery, thermal comfort of the occupants, and lighting controls. Water use was reduced through drought-tolerant vegetation, efficient irrigation, and low-flow/dual-flush fixtures.

The building features LED specialty, theatrical, and exterior lighting, with modern lighting controls including time schedules, occupancy sensors, and photocells. All classroom spaces have natural daylight with responsive controls. Sterling Aviation High School has been certified LEED Silver and is predicted to have an energy cost savings of over 19% compared to the energy code baseline.

Development Team

Owner/Developer Houston ISD
Architect Stantec
General Contractor Cadence McShane
MEP Engineer DBR Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Structural Engineer Garza + McLain Structural Engineers
Civil Engineer S&G Engineering Consultants, LLC

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