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Sustainable Design of a Research Laboratory

Dale Durfee and Patrick McIntyre, O'Neal, Inc. Architects & Engineers


The Neuroscience Research Facility is a case study in the planning & design of a research laboratory facility within the context of a university research complex. This project demonstrates the process of research and application of concepts of sustainability to achieve the University's charge for a LEED™ certifiable facility - an on-going leadership program within university communities. Sustainable goals are represented through the investigation of building and site systems, which contribute both to LEED™ criteria and responsible and efficient operation of the facility and the goal for architectural design excellence.

The case study also is a demonstration of the framework for planning, design, and operations for Emory University - engaging university administration, governing committees for campus design issues within the Facility Management structure. Project landmark phases in the capital development process include: The Precinct Study, The Feasibility Study, The Programming Document, and the process through the design and construction of the facility - a process known as 'The Emory Way'.

This paper focuses on this case study for sustainable design of a research laboratory facility, but will discuss several other topics listed in the "Call for Papers". Included will be a discussion of water conservation; energy recovery from HVAC systems; low impact landscaping with irrigation from storm water storage, interior materials and sustainable construction practices.


The objectives of this paper are to illustrate, through the use of a case study, how a complex research facility can meet the requirements for LEED™ accreditation. The case study is the new 95,000 square foot Neuroscience Research Facility at the Yerkes National Primate Center at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. The paper will began with an overview of the LEED™ points system and where and how this project will achieve the points required to be meet accreditation requirements. This will be followed by a discussion of each of the major areas of the LEED™ system with particular emphasis on storm water management and use for irrigation; heat recovery for HVAC systems; sustainable interior finishes; noise and light pollution control strategies; and sustainable construction practices. Included in these discussions will be how sustainable design and LEED™ accreditation can be achieved with minimal cost increases.


The findings that will be presented will focus on how this case study went beyond the LEED™ system to incorporate components of the new Environmental Performance Criteria (EPC) of the Labs21 program. In particular, safety concerns for air effluent, laboratory equipment water use, optimization of energy performance, hazardous material handling, and fumehood commissioning will be discussed. The specifics of each of these additional evaluation criteria will be presented along with the applications and/or procedures used to meet them. Also, a discussion of noise pollution control, critical in many urban/suburban environments, will be presented and discussed. While not currently criteria for either rating system, noise pollution should be considered and evaluated as additional credit. These findings have been developed from a complex, multi-function research facility, and should have broad applications to other complex projects.

Labs21 Connection:

Many aspects of the Labs21 approach will be reflected in this presentation. The aspects that were key to the design of this facility include many that are an integral part of the Labs21 program. They include: adopting energy and environmental performance goals; assessing opportunities from a whole building perspective; commissioning equipment and controls; employing a broad range of sustainable energy and water efficiency strategies; specifying "green" construction materials; and exploring sustainable design opportunities beyond the building site. Each of these aspects, along with how they were implemented, will be discussed. These aspects or goals were established and integrated early on in the design process rather than be added on late in the project, providing for a more holistic facility.


No biographies are available at this time.

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