Skip to main content Skip to main content

The Challenges of Sustainable Laboratory Design/Construction Using a Nontraditional Delivery Method

Fast-track Design and Construction on a University Campus

Ed Cordes, AIA, Perkins+Will
Kevin Brettmann, JE Dunn Construction
Peter J. Schmid, the Texas A&M University System

This presentation will focus on the programming, design and construction of the Texas A&M University Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, a three story 220,000 sq. ft. laboratory complex, constructed to enhance the University's research interactions across disciplines. The building will include 95,000 sq. ft. of modular laboratories and research offices to support chemical, biological and computational work. Laboratory and lab support facilities will utilize modular casework to permit reconfiguration based on evolving research directions. The Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building will represent the latest thoughts in a sustainable laboratory design. The project is targeting U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® silver designation.

The sustainable focus of this building was a direction developed by the University administration as they completed a comprehensive Master Plan to guide work on the campus for the next 100 years. Sustainable applications are measured against the attainment of LEED 2.2 Silver designation. The building design required the reevaluation of University laboratory standards for fume hood performance and design, central plant design, process water reclamation, and the use of day-lighting in a laboratory setting, among other things. The project is being designed and constructed utilizing the Fast-Track Construction Manager at Risk methodology. The integrated project team could therefore assess sustainable architectural and engineering concepts from a number of different perspectives.

The presentation will include both benchmark information, and specific lessons-learned:

  • The owner's perspective will include an analysis of current and projected campus utility loads, and the projected savings, and opportunities that this high performance lab provides.
  • The design team's perspective will include the application of the forthcoming lab design guide, and the issues relating to designing a sustainable yet extremely flexible, high hood density laboratory.
  • The contractors perspective will include the integration of 3rd party commissioning and the assessment of sustainable lab systems from a cost/construction standpoint.

Labs21 Connection:

This presentation will demonstrate that a high performance, sustainable laboratory facility is achievable within a constrained budget and extremely aggressive design and construction timeline. We will explore tools and methodologies the team used to achieve this goal.

As the first sustainable building on the A&M university campus, the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences complex will redefine the energy and performance standards for research facilities on this growing campus. Scientific research and education is the primary focus of Texas A&M University, and the vast majority of planned construction on this campus is research based building types. Historical campus energy usage will be compared to usage models for this new facility. Since the project is pursuing USGBC LEED Silver designation, the sustainable approach to building systems design is holistic in nature. This facility will serve as the sustainable benchmark for the University. Specific strategies include:

  • Wind modeling for exhaust fan energy optimization.
  • Diversity in fume hood configurations, low flow hoods, BMS sensors.
  • Air-stream energy recovery systems.
  • Fin tube water recovery for irrigation and grey water sanitary systems.
  • Sustainable construction materials.
  • Campus-wide cooling water efficiency guides.
  • Aggressive day-lighting integration.


Ed Cordes, AIA, LEED AP, is a Principal in the Houston office of Perkins+Will, an international architecture and planning firm with offices in North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He has over 17 years experience in complex systems design including work for NASA, research laboratories and vivariums. His experience includes the design of BSL-3 and BSL-4 biocontainment labs. Other recent projects of note include a large transgenic vivarium, primate sanctuary, and a new college of pharmacy. Ed recently acted as project manager on the Galveston National Lab, one of NIH's national biocontainment facilities. He is currently is serving as project manager on the Texas A&M University Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, a 220,000 sq. ft. Sustainable (targeting USGBC LEED Silver) research facility.

Kevin Brettmann has for the past 24 years been involved in the planning, cost estimating, construction, commissioning and qualification of Life Sciences, Research and Biotech Facilities. He is the Director of Life Sciences for JE Dunn Construction. Kevin has worked with companies and institutions such as Amgen, Inc., the National Institutes of Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Kansas and the University of Texas Health Science Center. Project types include BSL-3 and BSL-4 suites, cGMP manufacturing, vivarium construction, chemistry, and biology laboratories. Mr. Brettmann's current responsibilities include managing the operational and business development activities of JE Dunn Construction's Life Sciences Center of Excellence, and serving as JE Dunn's Project team leader for the Texas A&M University Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building.

Peter J. Schmid is a Project Manager for the Texas A&M University System Facilities Planning and Construction Department. His work involves client oversight and design management of projects across the A&M university system's ten University campuses and many Agencies. Peter is acting at the University's project manager for the Texas A&M University Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building.

Back to the Agenda

EPA Home | OARM Home | DOE Home | FEMP Home

This page is no longer updated.
EPA gave I2SL permission to house this page as a historic record of the Labs21 Annual Conference.