Abilene ISD Leadership & Innovation in Future Technologies (LIFT)

Abilene, Texas


  • Education


  • mechanical / plumbing engineering
  • electrical engineering


  • 120,000 SF

Baird, Hampton & Brown provided MEP engineering services for the construction of a new Career Technology Center for Abilene ISD. The 120,000-square-foot, two-story facility will serve 400 students from the district’s high schools, with opportunities to learn trades such as construction, welding, agricultural sciences, culinary arts, TV and sound production, and more.

The building features a large glass-front entrance, which resulted in more complex HVAC load calculations. A variance in the opacity of the windows throughout the building also contributed to more challenging calculations. A wet-pipe fire protection system was specified for the entire building with many different hazard type classifications due to the different space types, and a dry pipe system was specified for the covered parking in the shop area.

Due to the wide variety of trades taught at the school, our engineers were faced with differing heating and cooling requirements and a need for more specialized plumbing systems throughout the buildings. While K-12 schools typically utilize single-zone rooftop units, this project necessitated a mix of multi-zone units with VAV boxes with some single-zone VAV units due to heating, cooling, and screening requirements as well as a desire for energy efficiency.


The science labs were designed with a higher-end rooftop unit to handle the increased outside air requirements due to fume hoods. This rooftop unit is able to quickly adjust airflow to help maintain pressures within the lab spaces to account for the fume hoods. Exhaust fans, makeup air units, and a single-zone VAV rooftop unit were specified in the culinary arts classroom, bistro, and kitchen. The chemistry lab was required to utilize an acid waste and vent piping system to account for different acids used within experiments. An acid neutralization tank was provided to dilute the acid prior to entering the City sewer system. The culinary arts classroom, kitchen, bistro, physics lab, and chemistry lab were all provided with natural gas piping to equipment and were provided with emergency gas shut-off valves. A single grease interceptor was sized to handle the combined capacity of the culinary arts classroom, kitchen, and bistro. In the TV/AV rooms, the design included sound attenuation elements to keep the spaces quiet.


The building has four shop areas intentionally designed without cooling to match the typical environments these students would work in post-graduation. Instead, they feature HVLS fans, louvers, and exhaust fans for general ventilation. The welding shop included a special filtration system to extract and filter out dangerous fumes, the construction shop had a specified dust collection system, and the auto tech shop was designed with a vehicle exhaust extraction system and carbon monoxide monitors to ensure that levels do not exceed standards.

The various shops and engineering labs needed compressed air for various tools, so a single air compressor and air dryer was sized for the four shop areas, with a smaller air compressor for the engineering labs. In lieu of providing point-of-use welding gas tanks within the welding shop, a full welding gas system was designed, which utilized five different welding gases distributed to different welding stations in the shop. A sand-oil separator was provided for the trench drains and floor drains within the auto tech shop to separate the oil from the waste prior to entering the City’s sewer system.


Due to the existing sewer and storm sewer mains having extremely low invert elevations, there was careful coordination with civil and structural engineers to ensure that our piping could connect to the existing piping mains. There was also careful coordination with the architect to ensure that our piping could be concealed throughout areas that utilized exposed ceilings. Domestic water and fire pumps were used to route domestic water and fire sprinkler piping throughout the building due to the low water pressures within the City’s main.

Key People

  • Ian Bost, PE, LEED AP

  • Kirk Plum, PE, NSSA AP, CPDT, LEED Green Associate