Over the past decade, it has become readily apparent that the global environment is increasingly sensitive to human activity. The effects of global warming, increasing energy costs, dramatic climate changes and shortages of raw materials, potable water and food strain the global community.
In its 48th year, the Laboratory of the Year Awards continue to recognize excellence in research...
Each year, many entries are entered into R&D Magazine’s Laboratory of the Year...
Most architects who design labs have considerable experience and knowledge, but some projects have special needs or functions, or require that a program be fully defined before an architect is engaged. There are also an increasing number of projects for which an organization wants a “signature” architect for the sake of marketability and institutional recognition, but these well-known architects aren’t necessarily experienced in lab design.
There has been much speculation about what the academic scientific workplace of the future will look like. As young scientists enter the post-doctoral and faculty ranks and recent college graduates enter graduate school, architects and lab planners will need to re-think the way we design research environments so these facilities will best serve the next generation of scientists.
With 48% of the world’s energy consumed by buildings, and labs near the top of the consumption range by building type, these power-intensive facilities are now viewed with much more scrutiny. Consider an average office building runs on 3 W/sf and 100 kBtu/sf/yr, whereas a lab can use 15 W/sf and 300 to 500 kBtu/sf/yr—five times that of other buildings.
Throughout the past 15 years, an emphasis on energy-efficient lab operations has become a major influence in lab design. This fact is driven by a number of forces, from practical considerations surrounding operational costs, to policy issues related to sustainable development and carbon reduction.
Sustainable design has grown in prominence in recent years as most projects aspire to some level of environmentally conscious design. Research institutions now recognize the significant environmental impacts of their lab facilities, and owners are willing to think creatively to reduce resource utilization, improve interior environments and save capital costs.
Trend watchers note flexibility has become the new buzzword for research-bay design. At the same time, there’s a great deal of confusion as to what flexibility means. Among some client groups, the term mistakenly refers to lab space that can be setup within a commercial office building lacking the infrastructure typically needed for vent hoods, cleanrooms and the like.
The 2014 I2SL Annual Conference was the 16th consecutive lab sustainability conference for high-tech facility engineers, architects, planners, developers, operators and owners. Formerly known as the Labs21 Annual Conference, the 2014 I2SL Annual Conference showcased the significant accomplishments and experiences of the high-tech facility industry by offering a variety of parallel technical tracks and symposia.
The recently designed Univ. of Colorado Boulder Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex (SEEC) implemented a Konvekta intelligent high-efficiency heat-recovery system with MeeFog direct evaporative cooling. Labs typically implement one of four systems including run-around loops, energy-recovery wheels, refrigerant heat pipes or plate heat exchangers.
It’s no secret lab facilities carry the burden of a large energy demand. Reasons for this high demand include the significant plug loads of specialized lab equipment, the high ventilation air change rates often implemented in lab spaces and the large volumes of hazardous exhaust air that must be moved out of the building.
Labs are far more energy intensive than typical commercial buildings, but not all labs consume energy for the same reasons. Most available design guidance for labs provides a list of energy-efficiency strategies that include reducing design air change rates, decoupling cooling and ventilation systems and employing variable-air-volume fume hoods.
Nearly 40% of the total U.S. energy consumption in 2012 was consumed by residential and commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While each building is a consumer of energy, they also contain energy resources that are under-utilized or not even considered as energy resources.
The 50,000-sf New Technology and Learning Center (NTLC) for Bristol Community College (BCC) in Fall River, Mass., brings together currently disparate programs from across campus, including chemistry, biology and medical and dental education. It holds an energy-dense program, including 22 fume hoods, high plug loads and specific ventilation and lighting requirements.
Univ. of Washington’s Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (UW DEOHS) has 20 labs used for research, education and analytical services. Activities not only focus on environmental and workplace factors that affect health, but practices within. DEOHS labs haven’t been assessed for their impacts on health and sustainability. DEOHS has the capability and responsibility to provide leadership and serve as an exemplary model.
In 2013, Emory Univ. pulled together a multidisciplinary team of individuals from the Office of Sustainability Initiatives, Environmental Health and Safety Office, Office of Procurement, Campus Services and research labs to develop the university’s first Green Lab Program. In early 2014, the team kicked off the program to a small pilot group to test the initiatives and provide essential feedback.
When making the decision to invest in a building retrofit, an energy audit is performed to collect information about the facility’s existing systems, geometry, use type and energy consumption. Through performing an energy audit, the facility owner and those individuals analyzing the building are able to sense how the building systems are performing, while identifying potential retrofit upgrades.