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Scaling Sustainability: Comparing the Planning Processes for Two University Science Facilities

Arlen Li and Jeff Salocks, Payette

This presentation focuses on the concurrent planning efforts of two different universities, one public and one private, for new science facilities. Located in New England, less than one hundred miles apart, the process, structure, and finances of these two institutions are widely divergent, yet each will achieve a sustainable project. We will probe the critical thinking and analyses performed for both universities, outlining the strategies each decided upon while describing the architectural and mechanical design implementation of these features. Both institutions will utilize an extensive scheme of methods in order to realize "green" buildings, including:

  • Natural ventilation
  • Green roof design
  • Chilled beam design
  • Stormwater management
  • Energy consumption studies
  • Thermal comfort assessment/analysis
  • Daylight utilization and artificial light analysis

Both projects utilize a whole building and site approach.

Lessons learned thus far include:

  • Historic standards for functional criteria should be reevaluated for best results.
  • An investment of time in thorough sustainability planning yields results.
  • The difference in square foot cost allocation for sustainability on these two projects demonstrates that energy efficiency can be accomplished on any budget.

More importantly, however, is that these two universities embraced the precepts of sustainability not because of LEED® or Labs21, but because it is the right thing to do.


Arlen Li joined Payette in 1983, became an associate in 1989, a senior associate in 1992, and an associate principal in 2001. In over 20 years with the firm, he has focused on university and corporate laboratory research and education buildings. The range of projects includes medical, dental, engineering, chemical, and biological facilities. Arlen was the founder of the in-house sustainable design group and is the firm's liaison to the U.S. Green Building Council. He has also served as an instructor at the Boston Architectural Center and as a member of his town's Design Review Board.

Jeff Salocks has over 20 years of experience as an architect and designer specializing in the programming, planning, and design of laboratory and research facilities for university, institutional, healthcare, and corporate clients. At present he is a senior laboratory planner with Payette Planning in Boston, Massachusetts. He is currently working on projects for Georgetown University, Utah State University, and Shire Pharmaceuticals. His past clients include the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Brown University, Case Western Reserve, Dartmouth College, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, among others. Jeff is a past presenter on the subject of laboratory design for many organizations including: Labs21, R&D Laboratory Design, the Society for College and University Planning, Project Kaleidoscope, National Council of Research Administrators, and the Society of Research Administrators.

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