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Right Size? Life Cycle Cost? LEED™? What's the deal with selecting laboratory systems?

D. Randall Lacey, Cornell University

Designers and owners of laboratory facilities face seemingly endless decisions regarding the size, type and features of MEP systems for a new lab building. This presentation offers guidance in making these very important decisions.

Life cycle cost analysis is reviewed and the key parameters of this method are described in detail. For instance, the impact of using marginal energy cost or billed energy cost is demonstrated. As a case study - a life science laboratory building is presented. Options for the mechanical system are described and presented in a life cycle cost analysis. The analysis considers an aggressive VAV system, heat recovery and a combination of the two. The probability nature of LCC is discussed and demonstrated.

There is discussion of considerations that your consultant will not think of. Some of these considerations are: Do you need the building at all? Can systems be combined with neighboring buildings? What is the impact to a central utility system? What if money for construction and O&M come from different pockets?

Life Cycle Cost Analysis is compared to other decision making methods such as LEED™, low-energy, lowest cost. The compatibility and contrast of these methods is discussed.

Labs21 Connection:

This presentation will start with information presented in the Design Guide for Energy Efficient Research Laboratories on Right Sizing: Choosing and Energy-Efficient Design. That chapter of the guide discusses the important method of life cycle costing. The basic principles of life cycle costing will be reviewed for the benefit of the audience. The unique aspect of this presentation will be a comparison of life cycle costing for lab system design to LEED™ and other design criteria. Life cycle cost analysis does not necessarily result in a lab with minimal energy use or a building that is the best sustainable design. There are also aspects of lab building operation and maintenance that a design consultant will typically not include in the analysis.

A 250,000 square foot life science building that has been recently designed will be used as the case study to demonstrate these principles. The topic should prepare the audience to be more informed in making decisions regarding new lab building designs.


D. Randall Lacey is the University Engineer at Cornell University where he manages a staff of 50 engineers and project managers. He has Bachelors and Masters degrees in engineering from Cornell University. He has 20 years of experience with laboratory design and project management. This experience includes design and operation of biohazard labs, animal facilities, GMP drug production, and many other unusual laboratories.

Mr. Lacey has been a member of ASHRAE Technical Committee 9.10 Laboratory Systems since its inception in 1992. He has authored many papers on laboratory design and operation and was a recipient of the ASHRAE Technology Award in 1997 for the project, "Innovative Ventilation System for an Animal Anatomy Laboratory."

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