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Project Case Study in Applying Labs21 Principles on Campus–University of California, Davis Veterinary Medicine Complex

Jon Mehlschau, AIA, and Tim Evans, AIA, SRG Partnership, Inc.
Alisdair McGregor, PE, PhD Principal, Ove Arup & Associates

Currently under construction and scheduled for completion in September 2006, this 219,604 gsf veterinary medicine complex is a lesson in how sustainable features became a campus priority. The complex consists of three buildings: Building 3A, a research facility comprised of two structures that are connected to the school's large animal hospital, and the Instruction Facility (known as IF), a multi-use teaching and administrative center. Building 3A has research and instructional laboratories and support, offices and conference facilities, and specialized laboratories for anatomy, orthopedic materials testing, and pathology, which includes a BSL-3 facility and tissue digesters. In 2001, when sustainable options for the laboratories of Building 3A were proposed, green building design had yet to be formally embraced. By the time design began for IF, the university enthusiastically endorsed a candidacy for LEED™ Silver, making it the first building on campus to engage in the LEED™ certification process.

Sustainable design strategies were pursued throughout project design, including the use of whole building computer modeling and participation in PGE's "Savings by Design" program. Both 3A and IF were designed using LEED™ as a framework, and both are expected to exceed California's Title 24 Energy Code. The actual projected energy saving for Building 3A is 29 percent and for IF, 34 percent. Lessons learned include the following:

  • The degree of client commitment required from the beginning of the project for effective implementation of lab sustainability options.

  • The advantages of using the same contractor for all structures in a multi-building complex.

  • The advantages of using a construction manager/general contractor approach.

  • Importance of coordinating systems operations decisions with clients and having a designated building occupant responsible for coordinating systems control.

Labs21 Connection:

The presentation will focus on high-performance building strategies for unique building elements and the teaching and commons spaces:

  • Inventive water conservation. The Building 3A tissue digester doubles as a unique tool for water conservation. Wash-down water from necropsy areas is piped into the digester as make-up water. Wastewater from the BSL-3 necropsy laboratory is also piped through the digester, where it is neutralized without the need of a separate treatment center.

  • Integrated displacement ventilation. The HVAC system for the IF auditoriums and classrooms introduces cool supply air low in the space and exhausts warmer air high in the space. The system relies on free and open floor space allowing higher temperature cool conditioned supply air to be introduced at low velocity low in the space and move throughout the occupied level of the space. Conditioned air is allowed to deteriorate above the occupied zone prior to being exhausted.

  • Natural ventilation in the commons area. In summer, the IF central commons is a tempered zone between the heat of the outdoors and the cool of the enclosed spaces. Significant thermal mass coupled with lower temperatures at night expedite a "night flush" approach to cooling the facility's central space. A radiant slab in the central commons uses recycled air conditioning water and provides efficient additional cooling in summer and heating in winter.


Jon Mehlschau is an associate and technical architect at SRG Partnership, Inc., a leader in the architectural planning and design of research, teaching and clinical laboratory facilities for diverse scientific disciplines. A LEED™-accredited professional, he also serves as SRG's Sustainability Coordinator.

Mr. Mehlschau has worked on a broad range of research facilities for clients that include UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Washington State University and Shriners Hospitals for Children. He recently developed the green building baseline for the campus of the University of California Davis Medical Center.

Mr. Mehlschau has a bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Oregon and is a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Tim Evans is a senior associate in project management and design at SRG Partnership, Inc., a leader in the architectural planning and design of research, teaching and clinical laboratory facilities for diverse scientific disciplines.

An architect for more than 25 years, Mr. Evans has spent the last 14 years specializing in the technical issues of laboratory planning and design. He is a LEED-accredited professional with extensive experience research laboratories for private clients such as Genentech and academic clients that include the University of California, Davis; University of Pennsylvania; Washington State University; Oregon Health & Science University; Oregon State University; University of Puget Sound; and University of Oregon.

Mr. Evans has a bachelor of architecture degree from Cornell University and is a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Alisdair McGregor, PE, PhD is a principal of Ove Arup & Partners, an international engineering firm know for its strong expertise in sustainable design. Mr. McGregor has over 20 years of experience in energy modeling and in modeling the thermal performance of buildings. He has led design teams for a wide variety of Arup's projects and is the MEP sustainable design lead on SRG's team for the UC Davis veterinary facilities. He is especially interested in integrating sustainable design principles and information technology to produce true building intelligence. A LEED-accredited professional, he has extensive experience in the use of natural ventilation, daylighting and water conservation as well as examining the energy performance of buildings.

A frequent lecturer on sustainable design, Mr. McGregor serves on several committees of the US Green Building Council. He is a member of the Center for the Built Environment, an industry/academic research partnership at UC Berkeley. He holds a bachelor of science with honors in civil engineering from the University of Surrey and a doctorate from the University of Leeds.

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