LAB OF THE YEAR: HIGH
HONORS Sustainable building
reflects the science within
continued from page 3
a center for research dedicated to carbon-neutral
energy conversion technologies including combustion, gasification, biochemical-enzymatic conversion of biomass, and carbon dioxide capture.
The facility enables collaboration with industry partners focused on energy conversion technologies. CNES enables researchers to evaluate
laboratory results at bench- or pilot-scale. The
results are expected to lead to technologies that
can then be scaled further to meet the needs of
research sponsors. The facility utilizes a clear
three part organization (high-bay, mid-bay,
and computational labs and offices) to provide
flexibility. Each area is focused on supporting specific research requirements. Such an
arrangement allows companies investing in
CNES-based research to test new concepts
before deciding on larger investments.
CNES offers process-intensive research
and industrial-scale infrastructure capability
that supports equipment used for industrial
research. The supply and distribution systems
for liquid and gaseous materials have been
planned to accommodate the connection to
future exterior bulk storage areas that will
tie into the building. These systems have
been carefully evaluated to ensure that future
programs will function in the safest conditions possible. To support its varied range of
project-based research endeavors, the facility
has been planned to provide space that can be
quickly modified in both function and environment for maximum flexibility.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
awarded the Georgia Tech Research Corporation
$11.6 million toward construction of the Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory in January
2010. The facility was completed in May 2012.
The CNES Laboratory’s core mission is
two-fold: to support Georgia Tech’s Strategic
Energy Institute—whose focus is solving
current-day energy issues through private
industry research programs—and to promote
Georgia Tech’s goals in sustainability (by
designing the laboratory to meet the carbon-neutral goal). The team followed three guiding
principles: the design would be rational in
both concept and design, maximally flexible,
and sustainable by achieving “net-zero site-energy use.”
The team strove to reduce energy demand
by developing and testing passive-design concepts; studying contemporary carbon-neutral
buildings; establishing a working definition of
net-zero site-energy use; incorporating baseline energy-modeling; and challenging conventionally held environmental requirements.
This was counter to the more conventional
approach of accepting a somewhat arbitrarily-
determined level of energy demand, and then
looking for energy-efficient ways to meet it.
mize daylight and views, and generate renewable
energy. The material palette consists of insulated
metal panels, clear low-e glazing, translucent
Kalwall (to provide ample diffuse north light
into the high-bay), and crystalline PV panels.
Inside, the building structure was intended to
be the final finish; allowing the building’s interior
to be laid bare. This approach also resulted in
the lowest total embodied energy possible for the
building. All exposed structural elements and
MEP systems are painted white to reflect natu-
ral light; and the first floor concrete slab is fully
exposed to support the research conducted there.
No additional or extraneous layers were applied
to wall surfaces, and carpet is used only in the sec-
ond floor computational lab and office area.
The three space types: high-bay (for large-
scale research), mid-bay (for lower-scale projects
requiring more stringent environmental control),
and computation laboratories minimize the need
for modifications for different research programs.
High-bay Lab: This shop-like, flexible, proj-
ect-based area accommodates industrial-scale
fabrication experiments. At 140 ft. long, 40 ft.
wide, and 30 ft. high, this large space is fitted
with a five-ton industrial bridge crane allowing
the movement and construction of large pieces
of equipment and experiments. The high-bay
space runs the entire length of the north side of
the building. Experiments in the high-bay space
can tolerate more variation in the environment,
so air temperature, humidity and vibration is
less rigidly controlled. The high-bay industrial
crane allows for unobstructed movement within
the high-bay access to the exterior testing area.
Mid-bay: A mid-bay laboratory concept developed specifically for this facility is designed for
experiments that require slab-on-grade space
without the necessity of a 30 ft. tall high-bay—
enhancing the use of the space by accommodating various research programs simultaneously.
Specialty labs adjacent to the mid-bay structure
The building space typologies include high-bay, mid-bay, and lab/office space. The section shows building
mechanical and utility distribution strategies. (Section: HDR)
Located across the railroad tracks from
Georgia Tech, in its NARA Science Park, the
site organization reflects larger sustainability
goals. Strategies such as reducing hardscape;
increasing site permeability; collecting storm
water runoff on-site; reducing the heat island
effect; and introducing xeriscape landscaping
have all been incorporated into the design.
The organization of the site also follows criteria established in the Institute’s campus-wide
initiative to move towards a more natural
ecology and dramatically increase water conservation, efficiency, and quality.
The building organization and massing
was developed through an iterative process in
which various configurations were considered
to optimize solar orientation. The building is
elongated along its east-west access, creating
long north and south elevations, and shorter
east and west elevations. Sunlight from the
north and south is relatively easily to control—to shade for heat gain and to collect for
energy generation—through simple passive
design. Sunlight from the east and west is
more difficult to control, and shortening these
elevations reduced the amount of fenestration
Materials chosen for the building envelope
needed to address energy-use reduction, maxi-