Maximizing Utility Rebates for Greener Labs

Andrew Santaniello, Centerbrook Architects & Planners
Norm Burdzel, The Jackson Laboratory

Sustainable design, although mainstream, still suffers from the stigma that it comes with higher first cost premiums. Whether or not this is true continues to be up for debate; however, there is good news: utility companies want end users to use less energy. Companies are willing to incentivize the making of energy conservation measures through generous rebates programs - some of which reward design teams and owners for avoided energy use. This is especially pertinent for labs, due to the significant amount of resources they consume through their intensive 24/7 operations, their highly regulated requirements for safety and because of the growing expense and competitiveness of doing research.

This presentation looks at a recent case study in Farmington, CT where the Jackson Laboratory (JAX) built its new Genomic Medicine facility. From the onset. This project looked to wisely and judiciously spend $96 million in state funds to realize a new LEED-Gold certified center for the advancement of genomic research. It was understood this facility had to utilize and conserve energy in order to meet LEED prerequisites, and the team realized a partnership with the utility provider (Connecticut Light & Power/Yankee Gas) would enable them to do so intelligently. The team could maximize their return on investment for promoting efficient technologies which promised immediate rebates upon occupancy.

Two key members of the design/client team (Project Architect, Andrew Santaniello, AIA and Senior Mechanical Engineer, Norm Budzel, PE, CEM) will present the highlights from their efforts with JAX, including a final list of 20 approved and rebated energy conservation measures (ECM's), their energy saved, initial cost (individual and in aggregate), rebate dollars/ECM and the final return on investment. They will share lessons learned, including: which items had the greatest triple bottom line impacts, the least impacts, which items were not selected for inclusion into the project and why. They will conclude the discussion with detailed steps design teams can use in order to include utilities as part of an integrated design team process, to deliver better long-term client value.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will learn about various rebate programs for labs (and other commercial buildings), including their structure, maximum payout, and who/how/when to get involved.
  • Participants will learn how a specific lab project in CT used rebates to justify sustainable lab investments without incurring a first cost premium in order to achieve LEED-Gold certification.
  • Participants will learn what items are considered for rebates and their potential costs, energy savings, and ROI, as well as which are most pertinent/meaningful for inclusion in labs.
  • Participants will learn how being proactive regarding utility rebates results in better/"greener" buildings for owners at reduced operational and initial costs.


Andrew Santaniello, AIA is an Associate with Centerbrook Architects and has worked on several award-winning science/technology, academic, cultural, religious and residential projects since joining the firm in 1996, including acting as project manager on the Jackson Laboratory in Farmingham, CT. He earned his Bachelors and Masters of Architecture from Norwich University in Vermont, and he was the recipient of a Centerbrook Travel Grant.

Norm Burdzel, PE, CEM has worked 15 years with The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maine. He is responsible for campus mechanical/electrical design, specification and performance, comprising of animal research facilities, biomedical labs and administrative offices in 45 buildings across 3 states totaling 1,163,000gsf. Mr. Burdzel supporting capital projects up to $38million designed by various firms and contractors and leads JAX's energy program.


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