Aligning Laboratory Performance and Programming Building Science Tools In the Design Process

Don Kranbuehl, Clark Nexsen
Brian Turner, Clark Nexsen

High-performing systems are a critical goal for laboratory facilities, but the true success of a building project is ultimately the way it enables learning, innovation, productivity, and the work itself. Successful sustainability initiatives need to adaptably align with programmatic needs and be integral not additive - to facility goals.

This relationship is established at the beginning of design. Sustainability initiatives are not decided for their own sake, but because they complement the lab work, increase adaptability, and reinforce the values of a program. To that end, it is the responsibility of the design to integrate sustainable decisions at strategic moments and throughout the design process.

Each lab project and program is unique, and building performance goals require project teams to respond to changing sustainability drivers. Creating a set of priorities, communicating a schedule for critical decisions, and using Building Science tools are all proven strategies to integrate program and performance goals. This presentation will include proven examples from an array of laboratory programs:

  • Plant Science Buildings: Greenhouses are major energy consumers, and the demand from even a small greenhouse form can often outsize the research facility it supports. Decisions about temperature, humidity, envelope, and shading systems impact energy usage and systems sizing. By modeling implications for even small changes in temperature or R-values, Owners can make informed decisions to balance energy and research needs.
  • Laboratory core and shell: Planning for unknown programs, whether in a core and shell facility or a highly-flexible workspace, makes it difficult to confidently right-size system capacity. In this case, the design team can use building science tools to help balance internal and exterior loads, as well to establish a realistic maximum future energy demand. Providing visual and calculated energy projections for multiple planning scenarios enables Owners to make informed decisions.
  • Higher education: Creating sustainable 50- or 100-year facilities for changing program needs can be challenging for Owners with very specific budgets and schedules. As part of the program process, we recommend including both the intensities and types of energy demand associated with specific functions. This information enables energy usage to be at the forefront of decision making and planning decisions, and not simply of a result of other priorities.

The intent of this presentation is to demonstrate how building science tools can help Owners make impactful performance-informed decisions at critical moments, and how design teams can better enable confident Owner decisions.

Learning Objectives

  • understand how and when sustainability decisions are best presented as part of the programming and decision-making process;
  • have a better understanding of the tools and processes most helpful in determining high-priority sustainability decisions;
  • recognize unique strategies for addressing energy demand from a diverse array of laboratory and greenhouse programs; and
  • appreciate the relationship between design team members, and how architects and engineers can best enable confident performance decisions by the Owner.


Speaker biographies coming soon.


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