The mechanical designs provided by VBFA for the L.S. Skaggs Pharmacy Research Building included many innovative and unique engineering solutions to address the unique needs of a teaching and research lab that was meant to be a show piece at the gateway to the University’s Health Sciences Corridor. The design includes numerous energy saving strategies, a few of which are listed here.





Corner Canyon High School is one of the schools made possible by a 250 million dollar bond in 2010. This new high school represents the first new high school for the Canyons School District. The design resulted from a collaborative effort between District Administrators, Educators, Staff and the Architect. The exterior facade reflects the historical look of the community. The plan is designed around a central core with academic wings extending from this core. This innovative design allows separation of Academic Areas from the Athletic Wing, Performing Arts Wing, and Industrial Education Areas to reduce noise conflicts as well as allow for secured isolated night time use.

  • School accommodates up to 1,800 students
  • Two stories including a 3,300-seat gym and two auxiliary gyms
  • Academic wings each built for an area of study
  • Wings joined by a Student Union Commons
  • State-of-the-art auditorium


The University of Utah James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building is home to the Brain Institute, the Nano Institute, the Bioengineering Department, as well as numerous USTAR researchers and students. The 208,000 square-foot building features clean room space, materials characterization suite, wet lab and computing space, as well as meeting and public areas. VBFA provided mechanical engineering services for this structure, which includes multi-stage evaporative systems that include energy recovery and ventilation for class 100, 1000, and 10,000 clean rooms.


Arts Academy at Estrella Mountain is a public school located in Phoenix, Arizona. It is one of 2 elementary schools in the P.L.C. Charter Schools. The school serves 835 students from kindergarten to 8th grade. We are responsible for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire alarm design for this 31,548 sq. ft. school which includes classrooms and a multi-purpose. As the name suggests, the school places special emphasis on the Arts as well as basic K-8 criteria.


VBFA provided the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, plumbing, fire protection and process piping for the new , 110,000 gsf USTAR Life Sciences Research Building on the Innovation Campus of Utah State University in Logan, Utah. VBFA also performed the Energy Modeling and the LEED Planning and Documentation for the mechanical work and assisted in the Mechanical Cost Estimating. One wing of the building houses research laboratories and another wing houses a 13,000 sq. ft. Vivarium and 5,000 sq. ft. of Bio-Safety Lab Level 3 (BSL-3) enhanced suites where research with select agents will be conducted. This area is intended to function as a “box within a box” and will have strictly controlled access, individual room monitoring and special security measures. The building has a number of safety features including redundant mechanical systems.

The Veterinary Diagnostics and Infectious Disease USTAR team, the Center for Advanced Nutrition and several other groups will be housed in this facility.  Each BSL-3 room in the biosafety suite has its own HEPA filters and the mechanical design includes an individual decontamination system for each room.

The design includes numerous energy saving strategies including:

Energy Recovery System

Indirect Evaporation for Inexpensive and Efficient CoolingThree-Stage Cooling

Reduced Fan Static Pressure

Reduced Exhaust and Make-Up Air Rates

Large Grilles Ensure Safe Air Velocities

Innovative Atrium Air Handler Application

Atrium Smoke Control

Water Conservation

Reverse-Osmosis System

Chilled Water Loop for Lab Processes


Grand Canyon University has been a premier private college located in Phoenix, Arizona since 1949. We provided mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services for the new 55,000 sq. ft. recreation center located on campus. The new facility provides 3 NBA sized basketball courts for the students and for their basketball team. It also includes weight and athletic training rooms, aerobics rooms and classrooms as well as facilities for their dance and cheer squads.


Shadow Valley Elementary School is a 72,774 sq. ft. school located on the east bench of Ogden in the Ogden City School District. It was designed to be a model school, demonstrating how sustainable design could be achieved in an elementary school while at the same time, providing an excellent atmosphere for learning.

The school was completed in July of 2009, and is the first school to achieve certification by the USGBC under the LEED For Schools rating system. VanBoerum & Frank was selected as the mechanical engineering firm to team with MHTN Architects.

It was decided right from the beginning stages of design, that this school would go after and achieve LEED certification. In order to do this, the design team needed to work together to identify areas of focus, including HVAC system efficiency, water-saving fixtures, building envelope design, and acoustics. In consideration of the building envelope, VBFA used energy modeling software to model different scenarios, and provide recommendations to the architect on the building envelope design, building orientation, and shading devices. Insulation and glass types were closely studied to give the best possible quality within the scope of the budget.

VBFA elected to employ a mechanical system consisting of centralized variable air volume air handlers and VAV terminal reheat boxes as the backbone of the mechanical system. This is a very energy-efficient system, so it was a natural fit for this building. In order to achieve the higher levels of energy efficiency needed, VBFA utilized high-efficiency condensing boilers and a high-efficiency variable-speed air-cooled chiller to help boost the overall efficiency.

Acoustics throughout the school, especially in the core learning areas are a major focus in the LEED for Schools rating system, and this building was able to meet those rigid requirements. Mechanically, VBFA designed a mechanical system with very specific acoustic requirements. Many elements were combined and utilized to provide a system that exceeded the LEED acoustic requirement level. Water efficiency is another key component to sustainable design, and VBFA designed and specified low-flow, efficient water fixtures, including urinals and faucets, providing a 38% water savings over standard fixtures. To enhance the domestic hot water system efficiency, a 96% efficient water heater was used, with a solar hot water system designed to handle a majority of the domestic hot water load, and the gas-fired water heater acting only to supplement the solar heater. By designing a highly-efficient and acoustically-pleasing mechanical system, VBFA has provided a model system for future schools to look to and pattern future designs after.


Arizona State University Posner Laser Optics Laboratories and Micro Fabrication Cleanroom project was designed and constructed in an existing 5-story building. It was not the most conducive location for a clean room; however, it was the location available at the time of the project. We were to utilize four small, separate spaces and repurpose them into the Micro Fabrication Lab and the adjoining Cell Culture Lab, two Laser Optics Labs and a general Research Lab area. The Fabrication Lab is a class 10,000 cleanroom that includes three exhaust hoods in the lab. Most cleanrooms are positive pressure to ensure against particulate migration. This cleanroom grade lab is negative pressure due to the chemicals the research students use to construct and conduct experiments.

The Optics Labs and the general Research Lab areas are positive pressure. The Cell Culture Lab is a negative pressure environment that is 100% exhausted to the outdoors. Each of these rooms have requirements for nitrogen, vacuum and compressed air in each of the lab hoods and it is also required that pure water systems be available at all bench top locations.


VBFA provided mechanical engineering designs for Syracuse High School, one of the largest high schools in the State of Utah that includes labs. The school was designed around ‘next year’s technology’ and incorporates current technology and provides flexibility to upgrade as easily and quickly as technology does.