The cost of new sustainability systems are likely to increase over the next several years as new, more sophisticated and expensive sustainable technologies are developed.
Active sustainable design concepts, products and technologies for the creation and construction of new or renovated
research laboratories make up the majority of potential cost
and materials savings for improving the new facility’s overall
sustainability. Active systems involve large air handling
systems, heating, cooling and environmental control systems,
high performance and renewable energy systems, water and
waste management systems, building monitoring and control
systems, data management and processing, materials handling and processing systems as well as safety and security
monitors, devices and systems.
There is the potential for large savings to be obtained in
most of these devices and systems because they already consume large amounts of energy and resources and also come
with relatively large initial investments in time and money.
And because of their large size, there also are a lot of case
studies and resources to investigate as well as suppliers, installers and products to choose from in the selection process.
According to our recent R&DMagazine and Laboratory
Design survey on sustainability, the largest challenge in creating a new or renovated research laboratory is the increasing
cost of the sustainable features (Chart 11).
Two-thirds of the survey respondents chose this response,
while the next largest response was the increasing complexity of the sustainability equipment and systems, which was
chosen by about 38% of the respondents. Most of the simple
sustainability technologies have already been implemented,
and anything that builds on those technologies is generally
more complex and more expensive to build and implement.
While noted earlier that sustainability in the design and
construction of research labs has grown considerably over the
past five years, the costs and complexity of these systems has
similarly increased. As a result, the current average of five years
for an ROI on a sustainability investment is likely to increase,
but still expected to be acceptable in most cases since more
than a third of our survey respondents are still willing to accept
sustainability-based ROI paybacks in excess of five years.
Sustainability in Lab Equipment
While there is generally a large focus on building-based
sustainability systems, there also is a growing interest in improving sustainability on the lab equipment side. Researchers
and lab designers are attempting to make the buildings more
sustainable by reducing the heat that is generated from the
equipment and research systems within the lab. Up to 30%
of a lab’s energy use goes toward plug use (lab equipment),
according to architects at SmithGroupJJR. Some sterilizers,
Sustainable Design Concepts – Active
The cost of new sustainability systems are likely to increase over the next several years
as new, more sophisticated and expensive sustainable technologies are developed.
num, the ECE is one of the largest net-zero energy buildings
of its kind in the United States with numerous features helping it meets that goal. The roof of the ECE has solar arrays
along with its connected parking garage. The building also
features several passive heating and cooling features, including a terracotta exterior and a massive array of solar shades.
R&DMagazine’s 2015 Laboratory of the Year was the South
Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide,
Australia. The dramatic and distinctive exterior of this laboratory was sheathed in a triangular gridwork of sun shades which
were designed from calculations of the South Australian’s solar
path. The shades were designed to maximize shielding of the
intense sun, while still providing adequate lighting for the
health and medical research within the laboratory.
The Consolidated Forensic Laboratory for the District of
Columbia was a Special Mention Winner in the 2013 R&D
Magazine Laboratory of the Year program. This five-story
LEED Platinum laboratory included a full-height curtain
wall on the south side with movable sun shades that allowed
researchers to take advantage of the natural light for their
research. In addition to the glazed solar shading system and
the high-efficiency curtain wall, other sustainable features
included an efficient HVAC system with chilled beams and
energy recovery air handling units. Runoff from the green
roof and remaining hardscape was funneled into a cistern
sized for a 100-year storm. This water is used for cooling
tower make-up, reducing annual potable water consumption
by more than 2 million gallons.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Lack of in-house experience
Buy-off from management
Increased construction/design times
Lower cost traditional alternatives
Limited cost effectiveness
Limited availability of materials
Chart 11 - What are the Largest Challenges In Creating
A Sustainable Research Lab?