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Sustainable HVAC for Labs

Grahame E. Maisey, P.E., GEMCO

Good architects design buildings to mesh with the rhythms of nature: the hot radiance of the daytime sun, the cold black radiance of a clear winter night and the diurnal temperature swings all profoundly affect the building thermal systems. To produce sustainable lab HVAC systems, we need to continue the passive energy design foundation laid down by the architect through to the HVAC systems design.

Large outside air volumes created by the fume cupboard exhaust air systems cause lab HVAC systems to typically use five times more energy and require three times more maintenance than a typical office application.

We will discuss design strategies that can reduce energy and maintenance by over 75% while creating high performance HVAC systems. We will discuss the planning strategies, the integrated design methods and the long-term maintenance planning for sustainable, high performance Lab HVAC systems.


Our objectives are to show how you can reduce HVAC systems energy and maintenance by over 75% while creating high performance HVAC systems. We will discuss design strategies that allow us to gain these types of savings and to maintain these savings throughout the life cycle. We will discuss how to utilize renewable energy sources effectively in order to move toward sustainability.


The findings we would present are: By adopting performance oriented design strategies from the earliest conceptual design stage, we can change the way lab HVAC systems are designed and particularly how they perform. By separating the thermal requirements from the air system, the options and opportunities for significant and sustainable energy reduction begin to become possible. Separating the humidity requirements from refrigeration, the option of entirely removing refrigeration become possible.

Labs21 Connection:

This presentation reflects the Labs21 approach aimed at optimizing whole building efficiency on a life-cycle basis. The goal of high performance HVAC systems for labs is the long term efficiency and maintainability of the systems while providing optimum indoor conditions. Optimizing efficiency also means moving systems towards sustainability through the effective use of renewable energy sources. This presentation focuses on these issues.


Grahame E. Maisey, P.E. is an expert in high performance, sustainable HVAC systems with 40 years experience in the USA and Europe. He received a BSc in Environmental Control Engineering from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland in 1970 and has been on ASHRAE National Technical Committees.

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