From Start to Finish: Academic Lab Planning

Alicia Pandimos Maurer, CRB
David Miller, CRB

As green design becomes more popular, even commonplace, designers must not allow sustainability to be reduced to a checklist of "tricks of the trade." A more holistic approach to planning sustainable spaces is required to marry tried-and-true practices with ever advancing green technologies. The presenters will offer a how-to approach that begins before design, and lasts throughout the life of the building, followed by two case studies.

Programming efforts, particularly in the academic arena, are typically an exercise to get everyone on the same page concerning budget limitations and priorities. Approaching the task from a sustainable perspective enables a focus the benefits of avoiding overbuilding, planning for efficient systems, and setting standards for materials, equipment and the environment. Utilization Studies, Stacking/Adjacency Planning, and Detailed Criteria - along with a little diplomacy - provide the proof to ensure that the project gets off to lean, green start.

Building on the programming strategies, is continuous and early cost planning. With the use of highly experienced construction managers or costing experts, the design team can gain an understanding of designs decisions and their cost impact at schematic design, where their impact is minimal. Effective cost modeling and benchmarking tools make every team stronger in deciding on cost impacts that positively affect design. During construction there are myriad strategies for maintain interior environment and also for protecting the exterior environment.

Post occupancy is key to maintaining sustainability throughout the life of the building. Post occ evaluations to see how end users are using the building and its systems. Post occ energy audits help to see how systems are working and if they are working properly, these types of audits and work are key in maintaining sustainable strategies throughout building life.

Red Rocks Health Professions and Science Building and North Park University's Science and Community Life Building are case studies in which sustainable strategies were used from programming through current construction.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand how planning is a key component to ensuring sustainability is integral to a building
  • To see how building on planning ideals ensures sustainability is a priority from design through construction
  • To understand how post occupancy work can ensure sustainability is maintained after design and construction
  • To see how these sustainability strategies are implemented in real projects


Alicia is an architect with more than 14 years of experience in architectural design and practice. Her range of experience spans all project phases from planning through construction administration and post-occupancy services. Alicia has project leadership experience, leading consultants and in-house teams working to complete projects successfully. She has experience in sustainable design and research and development facilities with specific emphasis on renovation of laboratory spaces, including LEED administrator in on numerous CRB projects. Alicia has presented at on numerous topics related to sustainability, high performance buildings, and lab planning. Alicia is a founding board member of the Colorado Chapter of I2SL and sits on the Executive Advisory Council for I2SL HQ.

With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Miller's diverse background includes architectural programming, planning, project management, and a wide range of planning services. Dave regularly speaks at organizations such as the Society for College and University Planning and the Laboratory Design Conference. He has authored numerous articles and books related to facility planning including, including, "Designing for Research," College Planning and Management, "Academic Science Planning: Linking Curriculum to Space," Laboratory Design, and "The Architect's Guide to Design-Build Services," (AIA Wiley & Sons).

As a Programmer, Dave has worked on projects such as North Park University's Science and Community Life Building, University of Missouri's Discovery Ridge Accelerator, University of Illinois' Kinesiology Building, Lansing Community College's Arts & Sciences Building, Southern Illinois University's Interdisciplinary Research Building, and University of Scranton's Rehabilitation Learning Center.


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