CAN ENERGY-EFFICIENT LABS ALSO BE SAFE?
The design and operation of labs
in the U.S. are founded on a range of
codes, standards and guidance documents that relate to most lab types and
programs. The more familiar codes and
their referenced standards include the
International Building Code (IBC), the
National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) and certain standards promulgated by the American Society
for Heating, Refrigeration and Air
Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Another layer of so-called institutional standards include specific
government agency standards, such as those
published by the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) and the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), as
well as corporate or institutional lab design,
facility specification and Environmental Health
& Safety (EH&S) guidelines or requirements.
Finally, the growing importance of environ-
mental sustainability and third-party sustain-
ability certification of lab facilities has elevated
the importance of LEED and other certification
systems, which carries their own set of design
and construction requirements.
By: Josh Yacknowitz, PE, LEED AP, Arup
Throughout the past 15 years, an emphasis on energy-efficient lab operations has become a major influence in lab design.
This fact is driven by a number of forces, from
practical considerations surrounding operational costs, to policy issues related to sustainable
development and carbon reduction. As a result,
product development and communities of practice have evolved to serve these aims, and a generation of architects and engineers has emerged
to push the standards of lab design toward
ever-higher levels of energy efficiency.
Inevitably, the effort to reduce energy
consumption conflicts with some basic and
long-standing principles of occupational safety within the lab. This has led to more direct
discussions around risk and reward of energy
efficiency between a variety of stakeholders on
such projects, with a more holistic, risk-based
approach to defining energy-efficiency goals.
By: Victor J. Cardona, AIA, NCARB and George
Karidis, PE, LEED AP BD+C, SmithGroupJJR
With 48% of the world’s energy consumed by buildings, and labs near the top of the consumption range by building
type, these power-intensive facilities are now
viewed with much more scrutiny.
Consider an average office building runs on 3
W/sf and 100 kBtu/sf/yr, whereas a lab can use 15
W/sf and 300 to 500 kBtu/sf/yr—five times that of
This reality, combined with institutions now
holding their lab directors much more accountable for facility operations, is pushing sustainability in labs—particularly energy and water
efficiency—into the mainstream.
THE FINE PRINT
Breaking down a typical lab’s energy use
profile, depending on lab type and geographical
location, 40 to 55% goes for heating and cooling,
25 to 30% is taken by plug loads, fan use accounts
for 7 to 15%, hot water needs take 5 to 8% and
another 5 to 7% is consumed by lighting.
Pushing energy-efficient lab design
Can sustainable lab design go mainstream?
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Figure 1: At NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility, a hybrid HVAC system for the office areas engages natural
ventilation, solar chimneys, underfloor air distribution and perimeter chilled beams. Electrochromic glass prevents
direct sunlight in the winter, while light shelves bounce sunlight into the building’s interior. Images: SmithGroupJJR
Figure 1: Stakeholder engagement during design is an
iterative cycle. Images: Arup
Volume 18, Number 6 www.labdesignnews.com s