Performance and Operational Challenges in Operating a Carbon Neutral and NZE Lab - J. Craig Venter Institute Case Study

John McDonald, Integral Group

Engineering Perspective

J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) was designed to achieve LEED Platinum and a net zero energy footprint on an annualized basis. To reach this goal, a holistic approach to the building was needed to allow for optimization of all building systems. Building orientation and shading elements were incorporated to maximize daylight, while minimizing lighting loads, heat gain, and glare. Mechanical systems were designed, not only for high levels of efficiency, but for interconnection to allow waste heating or cooling to be captured and reused in other systems. The heart of the mechanical plant is the two 25,000 Gal thermal storage tanks, which are charged most of the year for cooling by the use of cooling towers in lieu of a standard chiller plant commonly found in lab facilities. To further minimize cooling loads, abundant use of natural ventilation was incorporated into the office / research wing as well as the below grade parking garage.

To maximize water efficiency, rainwater, from both site and roof, as well as the air handler condensate is captured and reused for cooling tower make-up, toilet filling and hose bibb use. Combined with low flow fixtures is planned to realize a 70% decrease in water consumption compared to a standard lab. Additionally, the plumbing system is pipe in a way to allow for the use of reclaimed water from the municipality, once distribution and service is established. While the majority of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems are comprised of standard system elements, chilllers, cooling towers, pumps, etc, the application of these components in novel ways presented construction, commissioning, and operational challenges that the project team needed to address.

The focus of this presentation will be reviewing the project intent from the engineering Project Manager perspective, the application of these systems, the challenges and resolutions implemented to build, commission, and operate what may well be the first carbon neutral and net zero energy biological lab. Lessons learned from design assumptions verses site conditions as well as the predicted energy consumption anticipated during the design phase, with the actual energy and water performance to date.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to identify the potential challenges in constructing a high performance (NZE) and carbon lab neutral facility, using JCVI as an example of a completed project.
  • Participants will be able to identify the potential challenges in commissioning a high performance (NZE) and carbon lab neutral facility, using JCVI as an example of a completed project.
  • Participants will be able to identify the potential challenges in operating a high performance (NZE) and carbon lab neutral facility, using JCVI as an example of a completed project.
  • Participants will be able to relate the predicted energy and water usage modeled during the design phase of a project with the actual energy and water usage, using JCVI as an example of a completed project.

Biography:

John McDonald is recognized as one of the leading green engineers for laboratories and animal facilities. Experience includes design and commissioning of multi-disciplinary facilities for biological, chemistry, forensics, genetics and behavioral sciences research; multi-species vivariums; cleanrooms, cGMP, ABSL-3, and BSL-3 facilities, Clients include: J.Craig Venter, Allergan, and Genentech. Overseas experience include: National University Singapore, and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

 

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