Sustainable Strategies Beyond "the Norm" in Laboratory Facilities

Punit Jain, CannonDesign
Gerald Williams, CannonDesign

Colleges and Universities are looking toward innovative sustainability solutions for their science facilities.

SUNY Oswego's Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation was formed by the expansion of an existing science building and the demolition of another. The complex takes its inspiration from the program within its walls. Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, a geothermal heat pump system uses 252 499-foot-deep bore holes under an adjacent parking lot to transfer heat between the building and the earth, minimizing reliance on the campus's steam supply and reducing the building's carbon emissions by 200 metric tons per year. This system reduces energy consumption by 12% annually and carbon emissions by 33% as compared to a conventional system and 57% reduction from the existing buildings being replaced or renovated.

At Eckerd College, a revolutionary air-conditioning system is at the heart of the exceptional efficiency for the LEED Platinum science facility. The system capitalizes upon a pipeline of reclaimed, non-potable water from the nearby St. Petersburg wastewater treatment facility that city residents use for watering lawns. This water is piped through the building's heat exchanger to cool the building's air conditioning system and then returns the warmed water to the plant, air-conditioning the building at a very low cost.

An $83 million renovation of Yale University's Sterling Chemistry Lab led by CannonDesign, in association with HBRA Architects, gutted the 157,800 gsf building's northern central section to create new biology and chemistry teaching labs while preserving existing research labs on the ground floor. Recirculated water is being used for process cooling in lieu of the conventional practice of using running tap water. This saves millions of gallons of potable water annually. Commissioning activities followed the tasks outlined in the LEED rating system for fundamental commissioning and enhanced commissioning, encompassing HVAC and associated controls, lighting control, and domestic hot water.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the unique sustainable solutions in educational laboratory facilities.
  • Learn about the benefits of geothermal well system.
  • Learn about a unique cooling solution that capitalizes on a pipeline of reclaimed water.
  • Learn about recirculated water systems for process cooling.


A key member of the firm's Science & Technology practice, Punit Jain brings extensive experience in designing both teaching and research laboratory buildings. Mr. Jain is responsible for promoting high-performance design through LEED certification, conducting training for the firm's professionals and high-performance design practices. Mr. Jain serves on the national board of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and the advisory board of of SEFA.

Gerry Williams has a proven track record of client success with mechanical systems design and is also the lead inventor of the eVap 1000 product line. For more than 20 years, Mr. Williams has helped organizations develop innovative and sustainable environmental control systems for laboratory, institutional, academic and commercial environments. A Consulting-Specifying Engineer 40 Under 40 Engineer of the Year, Mr. Williams consistently helps clients earn local and regional ASHRAE Technology Awards


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