Your Guide to K-12 Education Services: Technology, Consulting & Engineering

As your responsible partner, we are dedicated to finding the most innovative and appropriate solutions that improve the quality of life and provide exceptional value to teachers, staff, and students. Our experts provide strategic master planning, consulting, design, engineering, systems integration, and commissioning for a wide range of specialty disciplines for public and private institutions. 

A Focus on Long-Term Value

We understand that the challenges and vision of each school and campus is unique. Ross & Baruzzini works closely with educators, administrators, members of the community, and our design partners to meet these specific needs and create school environments that are both engaging and enduring. Our experience covers the full gamut of facility types involving renovations, new construction, energy studies and code consultation.

K-12 Education Expertise

We’re proud to serve scores of public school districts and private schools throughout the country, often working in partnership with top-tier design and construction firms. Energy efficiency, flexible space design, adoption of new technologies, and the safety and protection of students, staff, and campus visitors are increasingly critical to the foundations of our education system. 

As our experience has grown, so have our capabilities and services, which allow us to consider all of these factors in our designs, providing a full-service approach from design through construction. Our approach to each project represents a collaborative effort, combining client expectations with our knowledge of design, construction, and regulatory issues.


As student enrollment continues to rise, educational facilities are becoming increasingly competitive in their efforts to attract and retain students, faculty, and staff. Now, more than ever, campuses must be on the leading edge of technology to support new methods of learning, research, and collaboration.

Whether you are integrating new instructional technology in existing spaces, upgrading the campus communications infrastructure, or constructing new facilities, Ross & Baruzzini can help you save time and lower costs on your next project.


Our decades of experience have allowed us to work with campus planners, construction staff, and architects to carefully craft security solutions that balance the needs of public safety, premises liability, and campus vandalism issues. Understanding how various campus facilities interact with each other is key to the success of the security program, and it is common for the governing security principles to change substantially from one use area to the next.


Whether it’s a library, classroom, assembly auditorium, or science lab, Ross & Baruzzini’s MEP/FP team creates student-centered environments that are energy efficient and sustainable without compromising comfort, indoor air quality, and required temperature and humidity conditions. 

Our sustainable and energy-efficient designs start from the inception of the project and continue through the construction and final commissioning of all living systems. Whether large or small, we approach each project with the same commitment to quality design and client satisfaction.

Contact Our Our Team of Experts

Our multidisciplinary team can be a comprehensive partner for any education, laboratory, or leading technology project, bringing value and expertise to every solution.

Elizabeth Graff Joins Ross & Baruzzini as Director of Business Development

Ross & Baruzzini has named Elizabeth Graff director of business development for its Midwest region, which includes key markets in Missouri and Illinois.

Subject Matter Expert Business Development
Elizabeth Graff

Graff brings more than 15 years of experience in marketing and business development, specializing in professional service fields.  She most recently served as business development director for Magnetize Agency, where she managed client relationships and led sales strategy and new business acquisition. Previously, she was executive director of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and held marketing/business development roles in architecture and construction.

Subject Matter Expert Business Development
John Desch – Chief Commercial Officer

“Elizabeth is passionate about solving problems for clients and helping them identify opportunities to grow their business,” said John Desch, chief commercial officer. “She offers true business development experience with a clear vision for success and the skills and determination to make it happen.”

Graff is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)® green associate, a former affiliate member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a member of the Society for Marketing of Professional Services, where she sits on the local chapter’s board as 2020-2021 sponsorship director.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Getting to Platinum: Higher Education Team Pushes for Sustainability

Ross & Baruzzini has been committed to energy-conscious and sustainable building design since our inception in 1953. Our most recent achievement is the LEED Platinum certification earned by our Bluford & Brooks Hall project at the University of Missouri – Columbia. This project is our 3rd LEED Platinum-certified project as a firm and the 15th Platinum-certified building in the state of Missouri.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification system that provides voluntary guidelines for the development of sustainable buildings of all types, including schools, universities, and healthcare facilities. Certification level is awarded based on points in nine categories – integrative process, location and transportation, materials and resources, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, sustainable sites, regional priority, and innovation – with the Platinum level as the highest achievable certification.

Ross & Baruzzini provided mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection (MPFP) engineering consulting services for the Bluford & Brooks Hall project, which included the demolition of the existing Jones Hall and the construction of two new residence halls and a new dining hall. The housing consists of single and double bedrooms, split across living modules suitable for 15-20 residents, each including one community-style bathroom, dedicated study space, and shared social lounge spaces.

The new dining facility provides seating for over 700 guests and includes a private dining room that seats 75 guests. For two of the Ross & Baruzzini team members, Niki Partney, Senior Mechanical Designer, and Randy Diemer, Senior Mechanical Engineer, the dining facility was their favorite part of the design. ”The kitchen design was interesting. It uses a high-performance, energy-saving kitchen ventilation system,” said Diemer.

Sustainable design features of the project include:

  • Total enthalpy heat recovery for ventilation systems
  • High-efficiency LED lighting
  • Daylighting controls
  • Occupancy setback control of lighting and HVAC systems
  • Demand-controlled ventilation using CO₂ and occupancy sensors
  • High-performance building envelope
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Solar domestic hot water heating system
  • Variable air volume (VAV) kitchen exhaust and makeup air system
  • Low friction-loss duct design utilizing static regain (fan energy optimization)

The new buildings are powered, cooled, and heated using energy from the campus power plant, chilled water loop, and central steam system. The campus steam system is fed from a combined heating and power central utility plant that utilizes a biomass boiler for steam production.  In addition to producing power through steam turbine generators, steam is also used to produce chilled water through steam turbine chillers. Solar photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines provide power to the University power grid, as well. Accurately incorporating this central plant into the energy model was a critical component to earning all 19 points available under the Optimize Energy Performance Credit (EA Credit 1). Another important factor was the accurate modeling of the true operation of the buildings.

Go to for additional information on MU’s combined cooling, heat, and power process.

“The biggest challenge for me was the energy model. Mizzou challenged me to fine-tune the model to include very realistic building operation schedules, space loads, and equipment efficiencies, which was a level of detail that I had not done before. In the end, it paid off!” Partney stated.

Speaking on the firm’s most recent achievement, Jeff Crawford, Senior Vice President and Director of Higher Education + Research, said “Achieving LEED Platinum certification for the MU Bluford Brooks project is a rewarding accomplishment for all of the stakeholders on this project, as everyone involved worked hard to make this happen. We were fortunate to have a client in the University of Missouri that is leading edge when it comes to sustainability, as well as great design partners in KWK Architects, Lawrence Group, Antella Engineering, David Mason & Associates, and KPFF. Sustainability is a very important part of our culture at Ross & Baruzzini and we take great pride in providing building system solutions for our clients that minimize energy consumption and offer the best life cycle cost. Utilizing detailed energy modeling to test building system options, whether it be HVAC, lighting, building automation control, renewable energy or envelope options, is the foundation upon which we help our clients make informed decisions to optimize their buildings’ performance. We are proud that we were able to contribute to this project’s success.” 

Delivering High-Performing Student Housing Facilities

It’s been two years since the Lofts of Washington University opened on the Delmar Loop in St. Louis. The bustling 213,000 ft² mixed-use student housing development was designed to house more than 450 students, provide 220 underground residential parking spaces, and include 22,000 ft² of retail space. The four-building complex also provided a positive environmental impact by adding to the neighborhood green space and educating the community about sustainability in the process.

The approach taken by the design team and Washington University to develop, analyze, and incorporate sustainable design features into the Loop Student Living Initiative helped it to achieve USGBC LEED Platinum certification and successfully deliver energy performance that met projections anticipated during the design.

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

Projected annual energy savings for the Lofts were 47% compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2007 requirements, the US standard that provided requirements for energy performance for buildings certified under the LEED rating system used for this project. This is equivalent to approximately $162,000 per year, with an overall life cycle cost payback for incorporated energy conservation measures of less than 10 years. These projections were nearly spot on after reviewing the Actual Energy Consumption data measured from July 2015 through June 2016.

Sustainable Design Approach

Critical success factors in delivering a high-performing student housing facility are identified at the beginning of every student living project through a customized design and cost-benefit analysis. For the Lofts of Washington University, where sustainable design was a key focus, we identified the critical success factors utilizing the following three steps:

1. Minimize Peak Load Demands

Building envelope performance was enhanced through motorized external shading fins that were incorporated onto the south-facing glass wall and a green roof over a portion of one building. Extensive indoor and outdoor LED lighting was effectively employed and accounted for 13% of the total energy savings. Total enthalpy heat recovery wheels for ventilation and exhaust systems were utilized, which not only reduced peak load requirements but also improved indoor air quality. Additionally, low-flow plumbing fixtures were outfitted throughout the complex.

2. Optimize Mechanical and Electrical System Operating Efficiencies

The team focused on utilizing high-efficiency cooling and heating systems. A water-cooled, variable primary chiller plant incorporating twin-screw variable-speed compressors along with a winter water-side economizer was designed. This accounted for 12% of the total energy savings. A variable primary heating plant utilizing condensing boilers was also designed.

Matching system operation to occupancy is vital to energy performance. Variable ventilation and occupancy setback controls for apartments, triggered by a keycard relay system, contributed to another 12% of total energy savings. Occupancy setback controls for lighting were incorporated through occupancy sensors in each room. Although inconclusive, we believe continued education for occupants on the benefits and operation of the keycard relay system would further improve energy performance.

Additionally, a low friction loss duct design was applied, incorporating static regain.

3. Employ Renewable Energy Sources

The Lofts project relied on the use of Solar photovoltaic and Solar Thermal to garner renewable energy sources. Solar photovoltaic power generation provided roughly 10% of the buildings’ peak electrical demand and accounted for 4% of the total energy savings. A solar thermal domestic hot water heating system was designed and sized to generate 30% of the buildings’ peak hot water demand, accounting for another 4% of the total energy savings. While reviewing data of the Lofts, we learned that additional storage to capture heating capacity during afternoon periods of low hot water usage would further reduce the need for fossil fuel-generated hot water.

Other energy conservation measures that were considered but not incorporated into the Lofts included a geothermal heat pump system, triple plane windows, and magnetic bearing chillers. Those measures were projected to provide an additional 7% annual energy savings but had a negative net present value (NPV) when looking at their life cycle cost.

Lessons Learned

The actual utility for the Lofts confirmed the design team’s approach to sustainability not only met the energy conservation goals for the complex but slightly exceeded them. The lessons learned over the past two years from observing student behaviors, the actual performance of systems and equipment, and review of the adjustments made to improve performance have helped refine our process for delivering high-performing student housing.

Ross & Baruzzini has designed more than 55 student living complexes throughout the country, more than 20 of which have received LEED certification or higher. To learn more about our sustainable designs on college and university campuses, check out the Higher Education & Research Market page.

About the Contributor: 

Jeff has over 25 years of professional experience in all aspects of mechanical engineering and project management. As the Director of the Higher Education & Research Market, he has applied his skills and knowledge in the analysis, design, and construction of building systems for educational and research facilities across the country, on projects of all types and sizes. Additionally, Jeff has been a driver for Ross & Baruzzini’s mission to provide national leadership in sustainability.