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Labs21 Partner: The Quest for Platinum: Challenges involved in designing a laboratory facility that will achieve LEED™'s highest rating

Stephen P. Mead, Ph.D., Northern Arizona University
Cole Roberts, PE, LEED™ AP, Arup
Robin Shambach, AIA, Burns & Wald Hopkins Architects

This presentation will focus on a new laboratory facility that has been designed to meet the highest level of the United States Green Building Council, LEED™ platinum. Currently under construction, the Applied Research and Development Facility at Northern Arizona University has been designed as a flexible, mixed use facility that will include a BSL-3 bio hazard research laboratory, modular office space, conferencing facility and a business incubator. The project has been designed by an international team that includes Hopkins Architects from the United Kingdom, Burns, Wald, Hopkins Architects from Tucson Arizona, ARUP, and Earl Walls and Associates from the United States. The presentation will include three principle speakers. Dr. Stephen Mead (NAU) will outline the background and initial visioning behind the project, Robin Shaumbach (Burns Wald Hopkins) will describe the problems inherent in creating and managing an integrated international design team, and Cole Roberts, PE, (ARUP) will discuss the significant technical challenges in meeting the requirements for LEED™ Platinum.

The presentation will focus on the lessons learned in designing a laboratory building that will meet the challenging requirements for LEED™ Platinum facilities. Topics will include façade design in climates with significant solar gain, the role of renewable energy, and the challenges associated with designing and documenting a BSL-2/3 laboratory that seeks to capture all 10 of the LEED™-NC points for energy efficiency.

Labs21 Connection:

The Applied Research Facility at Northern Arizona University is a pilot project for the Labs21 program and one of the first laboratory facilities that will be designed to meet the LEED™ Platinum v2.1 level. Northern Arizona University currently has six LEED™ Registered facilities under design or construction on its campus.


Stephen P. Mead, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor of Construction Management at Northern Arizona University, and one of the creators of the Applied Research Facility. He teaches classes in building science and energy efficiency and has helped to develop the first county wide residential green building program in the country.

Cole Roberts, PE, LEED™ AP is a Senior Engineer and Sustainability Consultant in Arup's San Francisco office specializing in sustainable design, assessment, and consultation. As a registered Professional Engineer with a strong background in business concerns, Cole brings a technically versed and financially pragmatic understanding of project sustainability to the table. Recent work includes the development of sustainability performance criteria for Stanford University and the first Pre-Certified Platinum LEED™-CS project in the world. Cole has presented at numerous conferences including the USGBC's Greenbuild and is a regular guest lecturer at Stanford University and the Integrated Building Services program at the California College of Art. Cole has performed numerous sustainable assessments and participated in a myriad of building designs based on the LEED™ rating system, Labs21 EPC and the SPeAR™ appraisal routine.

Robin Shambach, AIA, LAP, is a principal of Burns and Wald-Hopkins Architects and has over twenty years as a project architect and project manager working on complex public projects. She is a LEED™ certified designer and was the project architect for Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus Plaza Building, Arizona's first LEED™ certified building. She is also project architect for Northern Arizona University Applied Research Facility.

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