Configuration of Aircuity ventilation optimization system installed in a lab building. Image: Aircuity Inc.
LAB VENTILATION SYSTEMS MAKES UP MAJORITY OF ELECTRICITY DEMAND.
Controlling ventilation rates at university research
Markus Schaufele, MS, CSP
Laboratory buildings consume more than half of the total Northwestern University (NU) electricity demand,
and a large part of this is for laboratory
building ventilation systems. Over the
past decade, NU has been installing
a ventilation optimization system in
laboratory rooms which dynamically
controls ventilation rates to reduce
energy use, provide a better indoor
environment for occupants and monitor
space conditions along with occupant
HALF OF TOTAL ELECTRICITY DEMAND
Northwestern University has 15
science research buildings on two
campuses. This space allows about $650
million in sponsored research activities.
Approximately 5,000 NU researchers
were registered to do wet bench research
in NU laboratories in 2017, and a large
number of undergraduate students
rotated through the undergraduate
teaching labs on the Evanston campus.
In 2016, the laboratory spaces
consumed almost 118 million kilowatt-
hours (k Wh) of electricity, which, at a
cost of $0.08/k Wh, amounts to close
to $10 million. This is about half of
the total Northwestern University
electricity demand. A large part of this
electricity demand is made up of the
laboratory building ventilation systems’
electrical power needs.
Ventilation in the science laboratories
and vivaria serves four main objectives:
safe breathing air for occupants;
suitable temperature and humidity
for research activities; dilution and
transport of equipment heat loads; and
spot exhaust for vented enclosures,
including cage racks for animals, and
fume hoods or snorkels for chemistry.
Whereas a ventilation system designed
for an office building may recirculate