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Fundamental Laboratory HVAC Test and Tune: Protocol and Results

Geoffrey Bell, P.E., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Retro-commissioning (retro-cx) laboratory spaces has become a priority for many research organizations. While the benefits of performing retro-cx can be substantial, identifying which laboratories to retro-cx and quantifying how much energy savings may be realized by the effort remains difficult to determine.

However, if simple, so-called "low-cost" measures were implemented during a retro-cx screening process, then the cost for the process would be deferred to some degree.

Considering these factors and others, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has implemented a trial "Fundamental Laboratory HVAC Test and Tune-up" program in 10 laboratories. The trial program's approach was reviewed by facilities engineering and environmental health and safety departments prior to implementation. This inexpensive program included a/an:

  1. Review of basic laboratory design criteria.
  2. Determination of each laboratory's air change rate.
  3. Fume hood review and low-cost tuning.
  4. Improvement of user interface.
  5. Summary report on findings.

The program identified energy-efficiency retrofits related to components and controls for both the laboratory spaces and the central HVAC systems. The step-by-step approach used by the testing company, as-found test data, and tune-up recommendations and results will be presented.


Geoffrey Bell, P.E., is an energy engineer in the Environmental Energy Technology Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is credited with a number of publications, including serving as a principal author of the Design Guide for Energy Efficient Laboratories. This publication is intended to assist facility owners, architects, engineers, designers, facility managers, and utility energy-management specialists in identifying and applying advanced energy-efficiency features in laboratory-type environments. Mr. Bell is a certified state energy auditor in New Mexico and a registered professional engineer in both New Mexico and California. He has served as an investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy, a teacher at the University of New Mexico, and an energy engineer contractor to Sandia Corporation in addition to various other mechanical engineering consulting positions. Mr. Bell received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Newark College of Engineering and a Master of Architecture degree in Environmental Design from the University of New Mexico.

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