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Optimization of Laboratory Exhausts for the Harvard Allston Science Complex

Brad Cochran, CPP, Inc.
Michael Walsh, P.E., R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, LLP

In developing its Allston Science Complex (ASC), Harvard University has set into place sustainable guidelines that are designed to reduce the energy demand. In doing so, Harvard aspires to achieve LEED® Gold certification for these and all future research and academic buildings on the Allston campus. It has been well documented that the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems within laboratories require greater than average energy consumption in order to ensure the health and safety of the working environment. Therefore, in an effort to obtain sustainable goals, it can often be quite fruitful to focus in on ways to reduce the energy requirements of laboratory HVAC systems, while not compromising health and safety.

The design for the ASC's HVAC systems has thrown out some of the "rules of thumb" for laboratory ventilation system and has replaced them with sound engineering solutions. This poster will describe the methodology, analysis, and results applied to define an optimum configuration for the ASC laboratory exhaust system that both reduces energy consumption and maintains a healthy and safe working environment. Topics to be covered include: optimizing system placement to avoid direct line-of-sights between exhaust stacks and air intakes where ever feasible; minimizing the exit velocity through exhaust stacks to reduce system horse-power requirements; and utilizing variable frequency drives and staged exhaust fans to closely match supply and exhaust air flow requirements.


Brad Cochran, associate at CPP, Inc., has over 15 years of experience conducting wind tunnel and numerical modeling studies related to laboratory exhaust design. Over the years, Brad has managed several hundred exhaust dispersion projects for such clients as Northwestern University, the University of California (UC) at Los Angeles, the National Institutes of Health, University of Texas Medical Center, Loyola University, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, UC Irvine, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley. Recently, Brad has been focusing on laboratory stack designs which can utilize variable air volume systems that minimize operating costs. This concept was first presented at the Labs21 2004 Annual Conference, and further described during the 2005 conference. Brad has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico State University, a Master of Science in Mechanical/Aeronautical Engineering from the University of California at Davis, and a Master of Business Administration from Regis University.

Michael Walsh, P.E. has over 19 years experience as a consulting engineer. His focus as a principal in the life sciences market sector at R.G.
Vanderweil Engineers, LLP, is the design of mechanical systems for new and renovated research, forensic and biocontainment laboratory facilities. He is a member of ASHRAE and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Michael has recently presented at national seminars discussing sustainable design in academic research buildings, magnetic resonance imaging facility design, and biocontainment laboratory design. Michael has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Michael has also participated in a Labs21 working group to develop modeling guidelines specific to laboratory projects.

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