A Zero Net Energy Teaching Laboratory: The First Three Months of Operation

Jacob Knowles, BR+A
Nathan Butt, Sasaki Associates

The ACUPCC and the 2030 Challenge set the trajectory for a carbon neutral future in the building industry. This goal may seem out of reach for laboratory buildings with high plug loads and strict HVAC requirements. But, we are turning these hurdles into opportunities. In April 2016, construction will be complete on Bristol Community College's 50,000sf Zero Net Energy (ZNE) chemistry, biology, and medical/dental education building, one of the few ZNE buildings of its kind in the world. In this session, we will describe our game changing approach to make this possible.

This session includes information on precedent projects to provide context. Our goal is to show the attendees the details of how zero net energy can be achieved. We presented this case study at the I2SL conference in 2014. Now that the building is operating, we look forward to presenting the first few months of data, including lessons learned from the start-up, commissioning and controls optimization process.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain a better understanding of Zero Net Energy laboratories, including precedents, strategies and operation.
  • Be able to actively engage in the conversation when evaluating Zero Net Energy feasibility.
  • Be able to pose potential solutions to dramatically reduce or eliminate laboratory fossil fuel consumption.
  • Gain an awareness of some of the cutting edge technologies available to maximize cost effective energy efficient design.


As Director of Sustainable Design at BR+A Consulting Engineers, Jacob Knowles heads our NET+ sustainability consulting team. He has championed the sustainability agenda for over twenty million square feet of research, healthcare and other technical buildings. Project highlights include LEED Platinum, Zero Net Energy and the award of major MADOER Grants. Jacob has also earned high audience ratings, presenting these success stories at conferences such as I2SL, Lab Design and Tradeline.

Nathan is an architect and one of Sasaki's sustainability leaders, with substantial experience shepherding projects through the LEED documentation process. Since joining the firm, he has worked on a range of campus project types from rec centers to residence halls to science buildings. Nathan is a versatile and thoughtful designer.


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