Laboratory Design Newsletter 2012 Selected Abstract

Metrics and Integrated Laboratory Design: The LEED Platinum Dartmouth Life Science Center

Natalie Gentile, RA, LEED AP
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Larry Jones, LEED AP, Atelier Ten


The Dartmouth Class of 1978 Life Science Center (DLSC) is a biology and life science academic and research center that spans approximately 174,000 gross square feet. Located on the northern edge of the historic campus, it includes research and teaching laboratories, gallery space, offices, a nuclear magnetic resonance suite, and a greenhouse. The project was recently awarded LEED® Platinum certification.

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The design team, in working through an integrated design process, delivered a high-performance building that exceeded the college's expectations. This integrated design process included periodic charrettes during which the team together developed, agreed to, and benchmarked their progress against ambitious energy performance metrics, which guided the design of a high-performance laboratory building. Furthermore, these metrics were evaluated and verified throughout design via energy modeling. As a result, the DLSC is expected to achieve an energy use intensity of 97,000 British thermal units per square foot each year compared to the ASHRAE baseline building's 199,000. This is a remarkable achievement for a laboratory building in the northeast United States.

This presentation discusses the importance and the usefulness of setting specific metrics early in the design phase; it is as powerful a tool as design software. The discussion highlights how those metrics were verified throughout design. The presentation also describes how the team worked together in an integrated design process to deliver a LEED Platinum laboratory building. The presentation highlights architectural strategies for low-energy laboratory buildings, including high-performance envelopes, flexible space programming, daylight design, and reducing lighting loads. Special attention is paid to the ways in which the conditioning systems support the architectural design and meet the stringent energy metrics set in the beginning of the design phase. Those HVAC measures include variable air volume supply/exhaust, chilled beams and radiant heat panels, mixed mode ventilation, low-pressure drop ductwork and terminal controllers, and the Aircuity system.