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Giving occupants of each 600-sf lab module control over the temperature minimum bulk air change rate allows for significant lower energy use. Image: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple  


Labs built in harsh climates face special challenges to achieve high performance. This abstract is based on a presentation from I2SL built around case studies of renovated and newly constructed biotechnology labs in the hot-humid Gulf South, supported by multi-year post-construction performance monitoring and occupant engagement, to illustrate what it takes to achieve high performance without compromising functionality, flexibility or safety.

Projects profiled included an in-depth look at two projects, both 60,000 sf in scale, both having earned LEED Gold certification, both having been brought in substantially under budget, and both with energy consumption at the high-performance end of the I2SL/Labs21 data set. One is a deep retrofit, where single-purpose windowless labs are merged into open-plan daylight ballroom labs. The other is new construction on an urban brownfield site, winner of the 2015 AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top 10 Award for combining design excellence with high performance. Both projects feature extensive sub-metering and a high degree of individual control, allowing the interaction between occupant and operational choices and energy use to be studied.

In particular, one of these projects, a biotechnology “incubator” facility, allows individual tenants (in consultation with their safety officer) to set the ventilation policy most appropriate to the kind of work done where every 600-sf lab cell can have its own air change rate. The other follows NIH guidelines, providing a minimum of 6 ACH at all times. The first approach requires occupant engagement to save energy, the second is more of a set-it and forget-it approach. The presentation will compare results of the two approaches.

Resilience: The ability of systems to survive and thrive in the face of disaster—is an increasingly important component of lab design. The presentation also profiled how lab, system and equipment configuration can be optimized in the face of severe storms and uncertain access to power.

Z. Smith is Principal and Director of Sustainability and Building Performance at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, winner of the 2014 AIA Firm Award. His built work includes academic, lab and residential buildings earning LEED Gold and Platinum certification.

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