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Unit Cost—A Tool for Energy Efficiency at the Richard J. Renaud Science Complex (Canada)

Roland Charneux, Pageau Morel and Associates, Inc.

This 32,000 square meter (345,000 square foot) institutional laboratory building housing 250 fume hoods has a measured energy consumption 50 percent less than the Canadian Energy Model Code at less than 600 kWequ per square meter (60 kilowatt-hours/square foot) per year for all sources of energy. The project received an ASHRAE Technology Award First Place 2005 in the institutional building category.

The building houses academic and research laboratories, classrooms, and offices and serves a population of 2,300 students, researchers, and staff. The main activities of teaching and research are in the field of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, psychology, and genomics. About 45 percent of the building are wet labs with 250 fume hoods.

All the air supplied in the laboratory units shall be 100 percent exhausted. Many strategies were implemented to reduce the air flow in the labs; for example, specific presence sensors in labs linked to the building automation system reduce the air change rate in the labs from 10 to 6 air changes if unoccupied during the day and to 3 air changes at night. If someone enters the lab day or night, the system resumes to 10 air changes. At night, if not occupied, the fume hood face velocity is reduced from 100 to 60 feet per minute. Sensors also ensure that an alarm sounds if a fume hood remains open during too long of a period.

The building has been in full operation since September 2003 and performs as per the simulations. Annual savings are in excess of 900,000 CDN$/year.

Labs21 Connection:

The first key strategy is the unit cost approach associated with using an energy simulation model as a powerful tool for decision making at the early stage of the project.

Implementing a unit cost strategy at the conceptual stage gave the team the opportunity to analyze a lot of energy efficiency measures and to integrate those measures in the project. Some of those measures are:

  • Presence sensors in labs and offices to reduce air change rates during day unoccupied periods and at night
  • Exhausted air heat recovery
  • Low temperature water heat recovery loop
  • Oversized HVAC system to reduce static pressure
  • Direct drive centrifugal fans
  • Natural lighting
  • High efficiency building envelope
  • Direct contact heat recovery boiler
  • Variable speed drive
  • Heat recovery chiller
  • Closed cooling loop for lab equipment
  • Natural ventilation of atrium and staircases
  • Timers on all canopy and capture arm exhausts, etc.

The second strategy was analyzing the options as potential investment instead of payback, which tends to overlook the entire life of the equipment.

The two strategies permitted the increase of the construction mechanical and electrical budget of $1.6 million for the benefit of the University.


Roland Charneux is C.O.O. of Pageau Morel and Associates in Montreal, Canada. An alumnae of Concordia University where he completed his Building Engineering Master Degree in 1990, he completed his Mechanical Engineering Degree in 1976 at the École Polytechnique de Montreal.

Roland Charneux is Fellow of ASHRAE and member of TC-9.10 Laboratory ventilation and TC-9.11 Clean spaces. He is also a member of ISPE (International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers) and is a LEED™ accredited Professional.

Through his more than 25-year career he was involved in the design of millions of square feet of highly energy efficient building which saved millions of dollars to their owners. Recently, his team designed one of the most energy efficient laboratory buildings in Canada.

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