Sustainable Laboratory Design and Construction
Taking a cue from basic management practices, the adage that you can’t control or manage what you don’t measure or monitor is just as true in sustainability
applications as it is in human relations. All the design efforts
created by the architects and engineers for a sustainable research lab structure can be wasted if monitoring and control
systems aren’t put in place to ensure that the designed performance characteristics are maintained. And for all the areas
mentioned in this report that contribute to creating a sustainable research lab, there are numerous monitoring and control
systems that can be installed to ensure that compliance.
The new LEED v4 actually lists more monitoring systems
as essential components for creating a certified sustainable lab
structure than the previous version (LEED 2009). These include Building Level Water Metering (now a required category), Water Metering (concepts that go beyond the basic level)
and Advanced Energy Metering. Of course, most of the other
LEED v4 categories also have their basis in directly measurable and controllable concepts that include the management
of energy, air quality, temperature, cooling (new), acoustics
(new), lighting (indoor and outdoor), lighting pollution (new),
various materials, water (indoor and outdoor), waste, recycling and refrigerants (new), among others.
Building Automation Systems
To maintain the sustainability designed for research labs,
most larger organizations rely on building automation
systems (BAS) for their energy, air and water conservation
characteristics. These software-based systems often utilize
leading-edge wireless systems based on IEEE 802.11 (Wi-
Fi)-based technologies. The BAS system is fed by output
from a variety of sensors including those for temperature,
air quality, humidity, pressure and whatever specialty
measurement is desired by the lab planners and designers.
These sensors can be placed in multiple and various types
of locations including indoor, outdoor and in ducts or
pipes. Standard air quality sensors are available for carbon
dioxide, volatile organic carbon (VOC) contents and others
Lighting control signals can also be output from the BAS
to provide the specific lighting levels needed for the research
lab applications. All of these can be controlled from a single
Post-processing output from the BAS can be used to
Control and Monitoring
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Technologies for Monitoring "Green"
Measuring sustainable systems is essential to ensure the designs are working.
What Do You Do Differently In a Sustainably
Designed Research Lab?
Constant evaluation and future planning, sometimes daily.
In sustainable research, lab equipment must be free from
We work in smaller areas with minimum systems in oper-
ation and we follow a strict regimen of not misusing lab
More environmentally and sustainability-oriented deci-
sions have to be considered.
Reduction or elimination of harmful substances and waste.
We've taken steps to eliminate bulk chemicals and reagents and manage projects so that testing and production
are done with advanced planning on the amount of chemicals required, which has cut lab packs and disposal costs
Constant thinking about energy, hazardous waste and
Common sense things, like turning things off.
Use products that can be easily replaced because of their
composition, such as bamboo without depleting the
Require re-certification/re-education of professionals so
that they can learn and begin to trust new technologies.
Application of solar technologies in the design phase.
More conferencing and coordination with owner and
other design team members. Increased focus on designing
toward energy savings.
Elimination of hazardous chemicals and generation of
green tests, even though more complex.
Include all available design options that promote sus-
tainability into the programming process so that there is
consensus among lab users.