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Surmounting Obstacles to Green Design in Mission Critical Facilities

Joe Phillips, Phillips Collaborative

If sustainable design of laboratories is such a good idea, why aren't there more projects that follow through on their initial design criteria? Judging from the contents of requests for proposals, sustainable design of laboratories is a desirable outcome. The actual outcomes, however, demonstrate a different world of risk, adverse predilections, budget priorities, steep learning curves, add-alternate (green-optional) approaches to projects, and just plain resistance.

Along the way from inception to implementation, green gets lost. Why? What are the primary obstacles and objections to sustainable design? What can project leaders do to keep the sustainable design agenda alive and thriving in the face of challenges from a variety of important stakeholders?

There are issues in laboratory facilities that are unique that keep good ideas from fruition. This presentation will describe personal experiences in some of today's most complex laboratory facilities and the results of a survey of owners, design professionals, and product manufacturers that highlights the primary obstacles to getting green design to stick. These significant issues have a common theme and, if addressed properly, can significantly increase the commitment of resources toward the sustainable design of laboratories.

During the presentation, time will be reserved to share experiences and lessons learned by conference attendees. It is anticipated presentation attendees will obtain fresh insights to get lasting and meaningful commitment from owners and project management for sustainable design.


Joe Phillips is a national leader in laboratory design and has been involved in sustainable design for over 15 years. He is an architect, scientist, and entrepreneur and has participated in the design and planning of over 6 million square feet of highly technical mission critical facilities. He has served on the Core Committee of the Application Guide for Laboratories of the U.S. Green Building Council, is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, and is currently president of Phillips Collaborative, an independent laboratory planning and design firm. He has worked on projects in industry, government, and academics and is a frequent contributor to laboratory design conferences and publications.

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