Entrance to Liberty Middle School
Students look through windows into the Liberty Middle School telecommunications room
Inside the gymnasium at Liberty Middle School

Liberty Middle School

La Vista, Nebraska

123,000 GSF

Alvine Engineering was instrumental in developing a comprehensive energy management approach and providing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, architectural lighting, and commissioning for this Papillion-La Vista Community Schools’ middle school. This project was also forward-thinking as the systems were required to be sized to accommodate a future addition.


  • Vertical water-cooled heat pumps with individual space control are located in individual mechanical closets accessed from the corridors to allow monthly maintenance to be performed without disrupting the students.
  • Heat pump water loop is a ground-coupled vertical well field emergency backup heat for the ground-coupled heat pump loop provided using a high-efficiency natural gas boiler.
  • Code-required outside air for the ground-coupled heat pump system is provided by seven energy recovery units. The units include direct expansion cooling and hot gas reheat to dehumidify the outdoor air and an electric heating coil to prevent frosting on the energy recovery unit heat transfer surface during extremely cold ambient air temperatures. The cooling and heating portion utilize the geothermal ground loop.
  • Each space includes a CO2 sensor used to control the amount of outdoor air each heat pump requires. As the overall outdoor air flow reduces, the energy recovery unit fan speed is reduced to save motor energy.
  • Benefits of daylighting studies have shown that students in rooms with daylight integration experience 20% increased math scores and 26% increased reading scores compared to those tested in rooms with less daylighting. Daylighting analysis and design services were included in the project scope to capitalize on these benefits to student performance and energy saving opportunities. Light shelves and clerestory glazing were used in the design to bounce light from high-daylight exposures into the interior. The use of LEDs and dimming switches also maximize energy savings.
  • Recipient of the ACEC Nebraska’s Honor Award for Excellence in Energy-efficient Design.
  • Awarded Illuminating Engineering Society Illumination Award of Merit.

Photography credit: Kessler Photography

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