Skidmore Center for Integrated Sciences Sustainable Laboratory Design

David Lee, Vanderweil Engineers
Sarah Lindenfeld, Payette

Sustainability and carbon footprint reduction are becoming increasingly important considerations for organizations, with focuses on environmental, social, and economic impact. As part of their core values, Skidmore College has put together an aggressive sustainability plan. To achieve this plan, one of the major focus areas is the reduction of energy use in their buildings. Building energy systems are at the crossroads of many of these factors as it ties together the people that occupy and visit the building, the energy used to provide indoor environmental quality, and the capital used to pay for the building and operations.

Skidmore is planning on building the Center of Integrated Sciences (CIS) which will be a 200,000 sf science center consisting of laboratory, office, classroom, and assembly spaces. Laboratories tend to be very energy intensive buildings that also must comply with more health and safety requirements than most buildings due the nature of the work that takes place inside. This poses additional challenges to reducing energy consumption over a typical educational building.

Along with passive architectural design elements and aggressive lighting controls/design, Skidmore plans on achieving these low energy goals for the CIS through the use of the building mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems. At the heart of the MEP effort is a brand new centralized ground source heat pump plant that delivers chilled water and hot water to chilled beam systems throughout the complex.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the requirements/challenges associated with designing laboratories with low energy use intensities (EUI)
  • Understand the process of lowering energy usage in buildings
  • Recognize the relationships between active and passive strategies in lowering energy consumption
  • Learn the role centralized ground source heat pumps can play in drastically reducing energy consumption


David is a senior energy engineer at Vanderweil Engineers with over 15 years of experience in analysis, design, and construction management of HVAC systems for a variety of commercial buildings and laboratories. As a senior energy engineer his activities include the modeling and analysis of building energy systems for LEED and informing the mechanical design of the efficacy of various potential energy conservation methods.

Sarah is an Associate Principal at Payette with over 13 years of experience in architecture and design, both domestically and internationally. Her project experience ranges from performing arts centers to libraries and academic buildings.


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