Specialized Concepts That Contribute to High Performance Buildings Focused on the Health, Well-Being, and Comfort of Occupants

Aimee Smith, Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc.

Laboratory Research Buildings are designed for activities that often result in the discharge of various types of hazardous and odorous exhausts. Among the worst offenders are fume hoods, vivaria, specialty hoods (i.e., radioisotope, acid, etc.), and diesel generators. Many of these sources are also significant sources of noise. As we strive to create the next generation of sustainable, high performance laboratory buildings, the health, well-being and comfort of the occupants is critical. For a building design to be considered high performing, it must create a hyper productive space where occupants feel motivated and inspired to the point where they genuinely enjoy coming to work.

To provide a healthy and comfortable space, it is important to ensure that components of the laboratory exhausts do not re-enter the building air supply so that desired air quality levels can be maintained. Noise levels from the exhausts can also significantly affect the comfort level of the occupants. In many cases, it is necessary to consider the design of the roof scape holistically to balance the performance of the exhausts from the perspective of both noise propagation and exhaust dispersion. Considering the noise performance and exhaust dispersion behavior together can provide an optimized design strategy.

The overall benefit of promoting the health well-being and comfort of building occupants will be discussed in the general context of factors like productivity, potential tenant attraction and retention with reference to the intent behind the WELL Building Standard®. Different approaches to evaluating and modeling noise levels and exhaust dispersion with specific project examples of how considering these holistically can optimize the overall performance of a Laboratory Building will be presented and discussed.

Learning Objectives

  • A brief discussion of the value of promoting health, well-being and comfort of occupants to achieve a high performance building will be provided with reference to the WELL Building Standard®.
  • Participants will gain a thorough understanding of the different approaches for consideration and modeling of noise levels from laboratory buildings.
  • Participants will be provided with a detailed explanation of the preferred tools for exhaust dispersion modeling including discussion of climate data.
  • Through presentation and discussion of examples, participants will gain insight to the benefit of considering the performance of the roof scape from a holistic perspective to address challenges from both noise and air quality conditions.


Aimee Smith is a Principal of RWDI headquartered in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She is a Project Director in RWDI's Building Science division, and is the firm leader for the Higher Education/Laboratory and Healthcare market sectors. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario, an I2SL member and a member of Sustainable Labs Canada. Aimee provides design ideas to clients, and focuses on different aspects of building performance as it is influenced by the local microclimate.


Note: I2SL did not edit or revise abstract or biography text. Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s).