Some Key Challenges to Energy Efficiency Improvements in Academic Laboratories

Wendell Brase, University of California, Irvine

Many academic laboratories are in need of substantial modernization. Safety, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability must be a part of a laboratory's modernization. Unfortunately, many institutions struggle with financing such projects for a variety of reasons that will be described. To maintain their competitiveness in today's environment, many academic institutions seek gifts or state funds to build new laboratories. This can aggravate operational budgets as staff are required to support these new facilities for which no new overhead dollars are added while at the same time maintaining existing campus infrastructure with oftentimes reduced budgets. This session will highlight some of the key hurdles faced by academic financial officers and illuminate systemic challenges within academic institutions.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop a clearer understanding of the financial challenges often not clearly articulated.
  • Discuss role of third-party ESCOs and utility services companies.
  • Evaluate the relationship between tuition and state support and modernization projects.
  • Define suggested steps for relieving deferred maintenance backlogs and investing in older labs with the capacity to be modernized.


Wendell Brase co-chairs the University of California's Global Climate Leadership Council and leads an award-winning sustainability program in his role as UC Irvine's Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Business Services. The campus received California's highest environmental award, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, in 2008 and again in 2013, and the U.S. EPA's 2014 Climate Leadership Award for Organizational Leadership. UCI has 21 LEED Platinum and Gold buildings.


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