Beyond achieving ZNE at zero-net cost, the
project was able to take advantage of nearly
$750,000 in grants and incentives. This, in combination with the first energy and maintenance
cost savings, results in a net present savings of
nearly $2.25 million over the first 20 years of
the building’s life.
As Director of Sustainable Design at BR+A
Consulting Engineers, Jacob Knowles heads the
NET+ sustainability consulting team. Over the
past decade, he has championed the sustainability agenda for over 20 million sf of healthcare,
research, commercial and institutional projects.
LaboratoryDesign|NOV|DEC 2014 29
mum air change rates, central air quality monitoring, fan-coil units with EC motors, 50%
lighting power density reduction, a high-performance envelope with thermally broken
assemblies and a combination of manual and
fully automated natural ventilation systems.
On a parallel track, BCC entered into a pow-
er-purchase agreement (PPA) to install a 3.2-MW
PV array over the adjacent parking lot. This sys-
tem has been sized to achieve zero-net electricity
for the entire campus, including powering the
NTLC. Through the PPA, not only will the array
be installed at no cost to BCC, but the electricity
will be provided at a lower cost/k Wh than they
currently pay, with no annual rate escalation.
Overall, the ZNE approach not only eliminated fossil fuel consumption, but reduced
overall energy consumption by a predicted 70%
compared to the original high-performance
design, saving nearly $100,000 in energy cost
per year. The true test of our design, however,
came when the detailed line-item cost estimate
was completed by the cost estimator, providing
a comparison of the two designs. The result:
The ZNE design came in $200,000 lower than
the original high-performance design.
Walking the walk: Engaging environmental health labs
to establish a model for sustainability
By: Jennifer Krenz, MS MPH, Univ. of Washington
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.
The objectives of this project are to assess
current practices in DEOHS labs, identify
barriers to and best practices for achieving
environmental sustainability and minimizing occupational safety hazards and provide
recommendations on how to improve sustainability metrics.
For the first part of the project, we asked the
labs to complete a Univ. of Washington Green
Laboratories Certification application (http://
green.uw.edu/green-laboratory). There are
seven sections on the application that cover key
lab sustainability topics. Labs are scored based
on their responses and certified if scores meet
certification requirements. We utilized the
application to collect baseline information by
asking labs to complete the application prior
to changing practices, so responses reflected
current practices. We then followed-up with
each lab manager and a group of graduate stu-
dents, using the application and responses as
an interview guide to learn more about barriers
and best practices. This baseline information
helped us target our sustainability efforts. We
describe examples of our activities in the areas
of chemical use, energy consumption and solid
waste reduction below.
We used hazard criteria developed by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a
framework to assess selected chemicals used
in departmental labs. The goal of the chemical
assessments was to identify the most hazard-
ous chemicals and select safer alternatives
to protect staff and students and minimize
negative environmental health impacts. Our
department uses over 2,900 chemicals, not
including those found in kits used for specific
lab procedures. The most granular informa-
tion on chemicals was obtained by examining
chemical hazardous waste data. Over 12,000
lbs of waste were collected from DEOHS labs
over a five year period. Of the top 10 haz-
ardous waste chemicals by mass, seven were
solvents. We are now working on a solvent
selection guide, which will rank solvents using
EPA hazard criteria.
During baseline interviews, managers of
some molecular biology labs mentioned they
were concerned about the health effects of
ethidium bromide, which has a reputation as
a potent mutagen. Although ethidium bromide has been reported as a strong mutagen,
evidence supporting this claim is conflicting. We also assessed two ethidium bromide
alternatives that claim to be less hazardous.
However, we couldn’t find any information on
these chemicals other than what was provided
by the supplier/manufacturer. Therefore, we
didn’t feel comfortable recommending any
one chemical product over another because of
major data gaps.
We evaluated the use patterns of several
common lab instruments to identify oppor-
tunities for saving energy. We used Energy
Hub meters ( http://www.energyhub.com/) to
measure the consumption of lab instruments
over a set period of time. Then, we computed
how long the device would actually need to be
turned on over the time period by subtracting
energy consumed when the instrument was in
standby or turned on, but not in use from the
total consumption. In many cases, over 50%
energy savings could be achieved simply by
turning instruments off when not in use.
We quantified common consumables in
academic lab waste streams to investigate
opportunities for green purchasing and waste
stream diversion. To do this, we first sorted
through two days of trash, totaling 42 lbs.
About a third of the trash by weight was paper
towels from handwashing, 25% was recyclable
and about half was landfill (22% of which
were gloves). We found many of the hard
plastics weren’t in the regular trash, but were
disposed in lab glass waste boxes. A recycling
guide is being developed using a combination
of the trash sort data and observations of hard
plastic waste thrown in lab glass waste receptacles. We used purchasing records to identify
high-volume consumables that may not have
been captured in the trash sort. This gives us
a starting point for targeting our searches for
green purchasing options and methods for
reducing the use of consumables.
Jennifer Krenz graduated with a Master of
Public Health degree in 2010 and is a researcher
in the Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the Univ. of Washington.
Krenz leads research activities and manages projects focused on improving environmental health
and occupational safety outcomes.