Know Your Constraints: Proven, Safe Results of Lab Building Optimization A Case Study

Brad Newell, B2Q Associates
Chris Schmidt, B2Q Associates

Engineering new ventilation setpoints in existing lab buildings presents potential pitfalls and difficulties that must be considered for safe, successful laboratory re/retro-commissioning. Case studies showing measured and verified results in four separate laboratory RCx Projects at a University will be reviewed each highlighting important lessons learned and also successful execution of proven lab ventilation techniques and engineering principals.

Design considerations including EH&S ventilation requirements, VAV or Air Valve manufacturer minimum airflows, ASHRAE/ANSI ventilation requirements, building static pressure, hardware constraints and duct/diffuser orientation all need to be taken into account when engineering final minimum ventilation setpoints in an existing lab. Failure to consider each of these constraints could result in unsafe lab operating conditions, waste energy, premature terminal device equipment failure and increased building maintenance and operating cost.

Additionally, laboratory Owners may fund turnkey RCx projects through energy savings and or Utility incentives associated with the optimization of lab ventilation and HVAC systems. If the aforementioned design parameters are not considered during preliminary project evaluation, poor project economics through over estimation of energy savings could result.

Learning Objectives

  • Be able to identify and properly account for design constraints in existing lab building design and commissioning projects;
  • Understand the role a commissioning agent has in the design, construction, operation, verification, and training of staff in new construction or major renovation;
  • Obtain a greater understanding of lab ventilation control theory; and
  • Be able to identify major areas of energy consumption and potential wasted energy in lab buildings.


Brad is a Project Manager with B2Q Associates and is a mechanical engineer with a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, with a focus in industrial building energy efficiency. He has over 5 years of experience working in energy efficiency, controls systems, and project oversight.

Chris is a Vice President with B2Q Associates and is a mechanical engineer with a Masters of Science in Engineering from the University of Dayton, with a focus in commercial and industrial building energy efficiency. He has over 18 years of experience working in building efficiency, HVAC mechanical and controls systems optimization, re-commissioning, and project management and he co-teaches the Association of Energy Engineers Existing Buildings Commissioning course.


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