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Washington High School HVAC Upgrade


Washington High School was the last secondary school in the Cedar Rapids Community School District that needed to improve its heating, cooling, and indoor air quality. Waiting patiently for its turn, the 60-year-old building required nearly 350,000 square feet of new mechanical systems, including a replacement for its outdated boiler.

As HVAC replacement projects were completed throughout the district, a few middle school and high school facilities chose to invest in geothermal systems. Each school’s geothermal system required a different design based on location, site, and budget. The district monitored performance and energy savings at these locations, while also noticing reduced maintenance requirements and a quick return on investment. As a result, the Cedar Rapids Community School District decided to install geothermal systems in several other school buildings.


Once project funds were available from SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) for Washington High School, Shive-Hattery provided hydrogeological investigative services to determine which type geothermal of system would work on the site.

The high school didn’t have enough surrounding land for a closed-loop system, which requires hundreds of underground wells. After evaluating the site, a new open-loop ground source heat pump system was suggested by Shive-Hattery for Washington High School’s HVAC replacement. The project required drilling down into the aquifier. The water from the aquifier travels through building pipes and then back to a well that puts the water into the earth.

Shive-Hattery also worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the City of Cedar Rapids, and the Iowa Department of Health to make sure the geothermal installation process was completed according to requirements. Permit applications, preliminary test well installations, implementation of drawdown tests, injection pumping and subsequent testing, and the analysis required to provide a recommendation regarding groundwater well system feasibility were also completed by Shive-Hattery.

As a continuation of improvements throughout the district, all spaces except for the corridor areas of Washington High School received air conditioning, as well as new heating systems and ventilation. New window and door systems were also installed to improve energy efficiency and enhance geothermal system performance. New ventilation systems were installed to improve indoor air quality and balance humidity, reduce odors, and improve comfort levels.


With a new geothermal system installed at Washington High School, all secondary buildings in the Cedar Rapids Community School District now have air conditioning, updated heating systems, and improved ventilation.

Classrooms can be kept at reasonable and comfortable temperatures, operations costs are lower, and school maintenance staff benefit from consistent maintenance practices across all secondary-building HVAC systems in the district.
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