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K-12 Schools Denver, CO

Denver Public Schools Mechanical Prime Cooling Enhancements

Thoughtful troubleshooting helped us meet the challenges associated with working on older systems under a finite budget, tight schedule and in an atmosphere of intense public scrutiny.


Denver Public Schools


Denver Public Schools


22+ schools

In 2016, voters agreed to invest $572 million in bond funding to build and improve schools, including cooling solutions at campuses where students typically suffered through sweltering weather in August and June because their schools were not air conditioned or were only partially air conditioned.

DPS tasked U.S. Engineering (USE) to help identify the hottest buildings, and then assemble the design and construction teams that would bring relief. USE managed and performed the entire design-build scope for 22-plus schools over two summers, adding cooling to 15 schools, seven of which had new building chillers and chilled water (CHW) systems.

USE’s team met regularly with our design partners and involved them closely in project assignments. Through our open-book process, we shared our estimates, which fostered intense collaboration and mutual support. Because the project was over its initial $70 million budget, the team stressed creative solutions to cool the schools and maximize impact based on budget limitations. For example, they:

  • Studied schools with the involvement from principals and facilities personnel to prioritize work areas most problematic for or most beneficial to the school.
  • Selectively demolished existing systems, leaving usable components or materials in place to stretch the budget.
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Ewing Marion Kauffman School

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