The Path to Carbon Neutral Laboratories

Jim Sharpe, Affiliated Engineers, Inc

Carbon neutral laboratories may sound like a far stretch given the inherent energy intensive nature of such facilities. However, there are several overlooked energy/carbon saving opportunities that can bring this goal within reach. This presentation will provide an overview of the big energy consumers in laboratory buildings and how these consumers vary depending on building location. We will explore ventilation driven heating and cooling loads and identify where opportunities exist to recover waste heat. Understanding the potential for waste heat recovery, we will explore the fundamentals of a variety of heat recovery technologies before moving into advanced applications that can tend buildings towards all-electric, eliminating the on-site use of fossil fuels. We will use advanced building energy models to demonstrate and quantify the opportunities that exist. Finally, we will demonstrate the business case for implementing heat recovery technologies to reduce operating costs and fossil fuel dependency in new and existing buildings.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand and be able to identify significant energy consumers in science and technology research facilities;
  • Understand the impact of building location and local climate on energy consumption for ventilation driven laboratory spaces;
  • Identify opportunities for implementing advanced heat recovery technologies in laboratory buildings and evaluate effectiveness in different climates; and
  • Understand how heat recovery technologies coupled with smart energy efficiency measures can significantly reduce, and under certain conditions entirely eliminate the dependency on carbon emitting fuel sources.


Beginning in AEI’s Wisconsin office and then opening the San Francisco office in 1991 has given Jim Sharpe a broad view of the high-tech laboratory industry. His background encompasses design, applications, and research experience with MEP systems, including complex building system and sustainable design, energy management controls, and utility distribution. He’s led numerous technically driven research, healthcare and academic facilities. Jim has provided leadership in master planning, programming, and design of numerous campuses and facilities.

His projects include multiple new laboratory facilities for Alexandria Real Estate, Genentech, Gilead, Amgen, Bayer, Merck, and many others.


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