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Building on Bren: Putting a Price on Green Lab Design

Lisa Fay Matthiessen and Peter Morris, Davis Langdon Adamson
Todd See, Flack & Kurtz


This presentation evaluates the financial and other implications of sustainable design at laboratory projects, using case studies across California, beginning with the LEED™ Platinum Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

The Bren design team, with Davis Langdon Adamson (DLA) as the cost consultant, prepared a feasibility report that identified cost, constructability, and operability implications of over 120 potential sustainable design measures. Design and construction processes were carefully tracked, and the building outfitted with a sophisticated monitoring system to allow the collection of accurate performance data.

Together with the building's managers and faculty, DLA is examining the occupied building to determine actual costs and benefits of sustainable design. This report will analyze construction cost, operations cost and performance, environmental impact, user productivity, and operations and maintenance issues, and will compare projected results to actual performance.

Drawing on DLA's database of laboratory cost estimates, their experience in budget setting for research institutions, and their work with UC campuses and the Bren faculty, the team will evaluate the costs and benefits of building green laboratories at all 10 UC campuses, and at other sites in California. Results will be used to develop a basis for the valuation and costing of sustainably designed laboratories and other building types.


A reliable database of costs, benefits, and recommendations for sustainable design, for laboratories, and other building types, including:

  1. Detailed evaluation of "greening" costs at laboratories. Specific construction costs of individual projects will be presented, and then normalized to arrive at an appropriate benchmarking methodology for a variety of project types, locations, and owners.
  2. Presentation of a database of costs related to specific sustainable design measures - technologies, rating system points, materials, etc.
  3. Results of energy and other performance modeling at case studies, looking first at individual measures - systems, technologies, rating system points - then at the building as a whole.
  4. Discussion of appropriate budget setting and valuation processes for sustainably designed laboratories. This will include discussion of values other than cost, including environmental impacts as assessed by Bren School faculty, implications to the larger community, and user productivity.

Results will be discussed at four levels:

  1. Individual building. Findings for Bren will be specific and detailed, using the extensive monitoring of every part of the occupied structure, and the careful documentation of the design and construction processes.
  2. Selected set of laboratories at all UC campuses, using Davis Langdon Adamson's detailed cost plans for each building.
  3. Implications for laboratory and other building type design at other locations and owners, using the Davis Langdon Adamson database, and the expertise of the Bren School faculty.
  4. Implications to the larger community of the implementation of sustainable design, in terms of environmental quality, infrastructure, and other values.

Labs21 Connection:

This presentation reflects the Labs21 Approach in several ways:

  1. By sharing the detailed and reliable analysis of the "greening" of a lab building, and by evaluating the potential of a number of other lab projects, the presentation helps to "establish goals, track performance, and share results for continuous improvement."
  2. The presentation not only dissects the individual measures used at the Bren School and other case studies, but analyzes the holistic effect of such measures, using energy modeling, thus meeting the Labs21 commitment to "assess opportunities from a 'whole buildings' approach."
  3. The Bren Report will measure the performance of the building in terms of energy and water use, and emissions reductions. Faculty will aid the team in projecting the effects of emissions reductions should similar measures be implemented UC and state-wide. Similar studies will be done on green materials.
  4. Finally, the Bren Report will "Expand beyond the laboratory building"; findings will be available to the UC campuses as they implement sustainable design standards, to the State in similar efforts, and to the general public.


Lisa Fay Matthiessen, AIA has 20 years experience in design and construction, with an emphasis in sustainable design. She was the Project Architect responsible for the greening of Bren Hall, an 85,000 sf, LEED™ Platinum lab project, at the University of California at Santa Barbara. On the owner's side, Lisa directed project planning and team formation for a $300 million dollar retrofit/new construction project with a goal of LEED™ Platinum. Lisa is currently a Senior Associate with Davis Langdon Adamson, spearheading their Sustainable Design Initiative, which integrates cost planning with sustainable design consulting. Lisa was a founding chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the United States Green Building Council and is co-chair of the Los Angeles AIA Committee on the Environment. Lisa is also an advisor to the State of California's Sustainable Building Task Force. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University and a Masters in Architecture from UCLA. Lisa has presented at the USGBC Member Summit, at numerous regional conferences, and to owners and design firms.

Papers include: The Greening of Bren Hall, 1999; and The Bren Report, Completion anticipated June 2003.

Peter Morris, a Principal with Davis Langdon Adamson, has 23 years of experience in facilities evaluation, and construction cost planning and management. He is an expert in building surveying, construction cost planning and estimating, auditing, scheduling and life-cycle costing. As head of DLA's research initiative, Peter is currently leading a project to compile a database of sustainable design costs from the thousands of projects that DLA has done nationally and abroad. Peter has a Bachelor of Science in Building Surveying from Reading University, and a CDip in Business Accounting and Finance. Peter has presented at the SCUP regional conference 2001 and several Tradeline conferences.

Papers include: Laboratory Cost Comparison, University of California, 1989; Comparative Cost Study for California University Buildings, University of California/California State University, 1992; Inflation Indexes, Effectiveness and Value of Available Methods, University of California, May 2001; FEMA 2000 Market Capacity and Impact Evaluation, FEMA, October 1999; SAC Steel Study, Cost Impact of Structural Steel Design Changes, SAC Steel Project, 1998.

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