Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Don’t Forget the Green

It’s really not optional anymore. Sustainable design must be a part of the holistic approach to building a lab.

Robert B. Skolozdra

Robert Skolozdra, AIA, LEED AP, is a partner and LEED design specialist with Svigals + Partners, an integrated architecture and art provider specializing in research and educational facilities. The company...

ViewFull Profile.
Learn about ourEditorial Policies.
,Chris Bockstael
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify

A few tips and techniques can help create synergy among the various design elements, yielding an optimized interior that is cost-effective, productive, healthy, green, and even inspiring.

  • Investigate low-flow and ductless hoods, and use these wherever applicable. Some manufacturers use technologies based on models of airflow from computational flow dynamics. The resulting hoods operate at half the required power of conventional fume hoods, but with the same safety factor.
  • Install occupancy sensors on the sashes for fume hoods. Open input sashes mean that air is flowing and power is being consumed; occupancy sensors will reduce or eliminate unnecessary flow, triggering the sashes to open only when a person is detected near the hood. Sensors may also be used to throttle back airflow for an entire bay.
  • Capture energy before you vent. On the topic of ventilation, one can incorporate a system to capture heat from exhaust, using it to heat the intake air. Heat recovery can significantly reduce energy costs.
  • Be water-efficient, too. Install flow restrictors on faucets and sinks to reduce water consumption.
  • Daylighting offers a better quality of light. Replacing ambient lighting with harvested daylight—augmented as needed with task lighting—is healthier and more enjoyable for the lab occupant, and saves electricity.
  • Use alternative systems. Assuming that you’ve been able to reduce air change rates to six (or even four) air changes per hour—no mean feat considering safety requirements— consider introducing alternative mechanical systems like chilled-beam cooling. The reduced air change is crucial, however: higher change rates mean that the convection process by which chilled beams cool the air will be insufficient to keep up.