Laboratory Design Guidelines Roundtable: Part 1

Otto Van Geet, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Suzy Belmont, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Designing a new facility can be daunting, especially designing a new laboratory, with complex systems. Balancing research needs, flexibility, safety, and budget with campus-wide sustainability goals is a challenging task that falls on the organization, rather than the design team. In many cases, sustainable or energy-efficient building options are highlighted only when an individual asks in a building design process and can end up being value-engineered out of the building design or become more costly because they are considered "extra." Building performance-based goals into the design guidelines ensures that the design team has clear metrics such that the building meets the organization's goals beyond the construction phase.

In this session, attendees will learn from the best practices of how three national laboratories are incorporating Smart Labs strategies directly into their building design guidelines. Attendees will be equipped with best practices to integrate strategies into the design-build performance specifications, ensuring a more successful Smart Labs overall facility design.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify key strategies for integrating Smart Labs into laboratory design guidelines for new construction;
  • Understand the importance of performance-based goals in defining design guidelines;
  • Evaluate research needs, safety, sustainability, and cost considerations to inform strategic design guideline development; and
  • Apply best practices and lessons learned to current and future new construction.


Otto Van Geet is a Principal Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Van Geet has been involved in the design, construction, and operation of energy-efficient research facilities such as laboratories and data centers, office and general use facilities, and low-energy-use campus and community design. Van Geet was a founding members of the Labs21 (Smart Labs) program.

Suzy Belmont is the Energy and Sustainability Manager in the Intelligent Campus group out of Site Operations at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Suzy has been with NREL for over seven years. In her current role, she leads the Smart Labs Program and manages energy, water, fuels, and other laboratory consumption to improve operations.


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