From High Performance Design to High Performance Operation: The Intelligent Lab Building Leap

Sanjyot Bhusari, Affiliated Engineers, Inc
Paul Erickson, Affiliated Engineers, Inc

Integrated high performance design doesn't always result in high performance operation. Stringent energy goals reflected in new codes, standards, rating systems, and institutional priorities continue to raise the bar for performance, prompting creative solutions that result in complicated building system designs with complex operational strategies. More and more data makes its way into facilities through Building Information Modeling, Building Automation Systems, Work Order Management, and Space Management systems. Reductions in operational staff and skills only compound the challenge for owners of laboratories and other facility types. As a result, high-efficiency technologies such as chilled beams, heat recovery chillers, energy wheels, and water reclaim systems are often accompanied by questions of underutilization: what am I leaving on the table?

Enterprise building management systems - the basis of intelligent buildings - allow owners to orchestrate and leverage the disparate data and communication protocols of building and business systems to simplify complex operations, improve energy and operational efficiency, and enhance user experience. These tools help operators impart their own intelligence into operations to correct anomalies, reduce repetitive issues, predict deficiencies, and capture institutional knowledge about a building's operation. The result is buildings that deliver on their design intent.

Profiling a recent University of Florida laboratory building project, this session will identify steps for incorporating building automation system enhancements and intelligent building strategies into the design process, ensuring that high performance requirements result in high performance operations.

UF Biomedical Sciences Building is a 163K SF Facility that houses the research and administrative operation of the biomedical engineering research laboratories, generic wet research laboratories, animal resources (vivarium), common spaces, and associated support, conference, and office areas. The high performance design resulted in a LEED Gold Certification.

The building incorporated high performance operation tools and strategies such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), fault detection and diagnostics, intelligent alarm management, performance measurement instrumentation, touch screens that allow laboratory staff to quickly change mode of operation, systems integration among other strategies.

For the past seven years building utilities are tracking close to predicted energy models and historical data. Work orders for this facility are substantially lower than other comparative lab facilities on campus.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the cutting edge systems available and in development, and the tools necessary for their optimal use.
  • Master the Intelligent Operations Concept of being 'predictive' in lieu of being 'reactive' and the business case for its implementation.
  • Discover how the convergence of otherwise disparate systems can save significant operational costs. Case study elaborates with tangible examples.
  • Explain the operational challenges that facilities face with respect to staffing levels and skill sets.


Sanjyot V. Bhusari, PE, CEM, LEED AP, is Affiliated Engineers, Inc.'s intelligent buildings practice leader. He has over 15 years' experience optimizing existing BASs, improving facility management business processes, and developing system integration solutions and data analytics for higher education, research, medical science, and health care facility projects. Mr. Bhusari has spoken on intelligent buildings at Tradeline and has covered the topic for Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine.

As AEI's Sustainable Practice Leader, Paul Erickson, LEED AP, manages the firm's sustainable design services, acting as a project consultant and as the firm's internal coordinator of sustainable technology and strategy training. Mr. Erickson's experience in mechanical system design, lighting, daylighting, renewable energy, and building performance simulation is leveraged to champion and lead the design of high performance labs, hospitals and other building types.


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