Labs and Carbon Part 3: What's in Your Toolbox?

Rachel Romero, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Lab facilities produce three to five times more carbon emissions than a typical office building, presenting greater opportunities for cost savings and carbon reduction opportunities. To assist lab owners in implementing a successful, programmatic approach that realizes ongoing savings, the Smart Labs Toolkit (developed by the U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories) hosts tools, resources, and step-by-step guidance to guide laboratory stakeholders in establishing a successful Smart Labs program. Through a holistic approach of physical, administrative, and management techniques, the Toolkit includes guidance for assessing, optimizing, and managing high-performance laboratories.

This presentation will focus on a central component of the Smart Labs approach: the Laboratory Ventilation Risk Assessment systematic process for identifying risk due to airborne hazards to inform the operation of dynamic ventilation that optimizes safety and efficiency. We will present tools available to assist organizations in assessing ventilation in their labs and understand how research activities affect ventilation needs in the space. Attendees will walk away equipped with the tools and resources needed to successfully manage carbon emissions in any building through smarter, safer ventilation.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the significance of ventilation in laboratory decarbonization efforts;
  • Identify key drivers of researcher safety and energy use within lab spaces;
  • Utilize tools and resources available for assessing ventilation needs in a laboratory space; and
  • Describe strategies for improving ventilation effectiveness to safely mitigate hazards and reduce operational carbon emissions.


Rachel Romero is an energy engineer and project leader at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). She leads the Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) Smart Labs effort, providing resources and technical assistance to university and national laboratory partners in operating high-performance, sustainable laboratories.


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