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Case Study: Designing Laboratories to LEED™ Gold Standards in the Southeast Region

Randall Larsen, AIA, The FWA Group
David Crutchfield, RMF Engineering, Inc.

This presentation will be a case study of the new School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, currently under construction. The presentation will discuss the various design features incorporated in order to meet the goals of LEED™ V2.1 Gold certification and Labs21's Environmental Performance Criteria (EPC). The University's initial goal of LEED™ Silver rating for the laboratory/classroom building is anticipated to be exceeded by the introduction of the EPC as a major innovation component of design. Additionally, the presentation will elaborate on the design process and the strategies implemented.


By nature, university facilities are built for long term use and the design inherently includes components that are intended to promote efficiencies. These standard design components, when enhanced or adjusted slightly, provide for ease of implementation of sustainable features and criteria and subsequent LEED™ Certification. The presentation will include the following examples:

  • Underground rainwater catchment system (used for irrigation of xeriscaped plantings on site)
  • Water saving features (30% water reduction)
  • Rapidly renewable materials - laboratory casework
  • Certified wood - laboratory and institutional casework
  • Controllability of systems, non-perimeter
  • Daylighting strategies & lab lighting
  • Optimize energy performance
  • Labs21
    • Prerequisites
      • WEp1 - Laboratory equipment water use
      • EAp2 - Minimum energy performance
      • EAp4 - Access minimum ventilation requirements
      • MRp2 - Hazardous material handling
      • EQp3 - Laboratory ventilation
      • EQp4 - Exterior door notification system
    • Credits
      • EA9.2 - (right size) Laboratory equipment load, metering provision
      • EA9.3 - Indoor environmental safety, alarm systems
      • EQ9.2 - Indoor Environmental safety, fume hood commissioning

Labs21 Connection:

As a founding member of South Carolina's Sustainable Universities Initiative, the University's goal in the initial phase of the building's design was to achieve LEED™ Silver rating on this project. By establishing this goal early in project development, the design team was able to implement a holistic approach from day one and allow for evaluation and application throughout the process. Early implementation was key. By utilizing the Labs21 Approach, the design team was able to pursue four Innovation in Design credits including all Labs21 prerequisites, which elevated the certification from Silver to Gold rating. These prerequisites and credits included Laboratory equipment water use, minimum energy performance, access minimum ventilation requirements, hazardous material handling, laboratory ventilation, exterior door notification system, laboratory equipment load metering, lab alarm systems and fume hood commissioning. Six LEED™ Accredited Professionals were members of the design team.


Randall Larsen, AIA, is President of The FWA Group, an architecture firm specializing in research and educational facilities. Mr. Larsen has specialized in laboratory and R&D facilities in both the United States and Canada since 1979 as an architect, as a special consultant, and as an owner which provides him with a unique perspective. His work is concentrated in Higher Education, Health Science Centers, and the Biopharmaceutical industry. Currently, Mr. Larsen is involved with three laboratory projects in Colorado and one in North Carolina. One of the Colorado projects is a Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, one of nine across the country funded by NIAID as part of the anti-terrorism initiatives of the Federal Government.

Mr. Larsen's professional affiliations include the American Biological Safety Association, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, the American Institute of Architects, and the Construction Specifications Institute. He is a registered architect in Hawaii, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, North Carolina, and Kansas.

David Crutchfield is a mechanical project manager with over 12 years of engineering experience. He has extensive experience in the design and analysis of mechanical systems serving institutional campuses and laboratory/research campuses. His experience includes new as well as renovation work and frequently includes the coordination of multiple construction phases.

Mr. Crutchfield has participated in the design of several LEED™ certified facilities. Additionally, he has designed many significant laboratory/research facilities. Most recently, Mr. Crutchfield completed the design for a 600,000 SF pharmaceutical/production facility which serves as the World Headquarters for Human Genome Sciences.

Mr. Crutchfield performs detailed engineering economic analyses for each project to support his engineering approach. His projects achieve the optimal balance of energy efficiency, ease of maintenance, reliability and initial cost. His primary role on projects is Lead Mechanical Engineer, responsible for all aspects of the mechanical design. He handles the complete coordination of all production work and communication with the client.


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