Operational Carbon: Design and Implementation

Patrick Murphy, Vanderweil Engineers
Michael Graham, HOK

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, faces the same challenges as many institutions: how to manage energy consumption across a diverse building portfolio while meeting its carbon commitments. On the 340,000 SF Health Science Research Building II currently under construction, the project pushes the envelope towards the University's ambitious sustainable goals.

This advanced session will complement two other presentations about the embodied carbon of this new facility, and will focus on the operational carbon and energy. Due to the complex interrelation of energy and other systems, the design team first developed a menu of individual strategies, then parametrically cross-pollinated to determine the most economical and effective design based on initial cost, energy and carbon emissions intensity, simple payback, and other qualitative benefits. Presenters will share their early dynamic modeling process and tools, and show how this can be used not just for large, technically complex projects in challenging climates, but for any project trying to achieve aggressive energy use intensity or emissions goals with site area, floor height, budget, operational or other constraints. This session will also compare the impact of design strategies on both operational and embodied carbon.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the impact of operational carbon in research laboratories;
  • Learn how to identify, assess, and obtain owner buy-in for sustainable laboratory design strategies;
  • Compare relative operational and embodied carbon impact of research facility design; and
  • Determine synergistic benefits and optimal solutions for high-performance laboratory design.


As Director of Sustainable Design for Vanderweil Engineers, Patrick is leveraging his background as an architectural engineer and experience in sustainable, integrated, and innovative building design to inform designs through rigorous energy and water analysis.

A Senior Project Architect in HOK’s Atlanta office, Michael is an architect who has brought his leadership to a wide variety of sustainable science facilities throughout his career. His ability to blend design excellence and technical expertise has resulted in smart, sustainable buildings that exceed client expectations. He has had a significant role in design for two LEED Platinum facilities, as well as the LEED Gold (anticipated) Emory University Health Sciences Research Building II.


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