Shedding Light (and Fresh Air) on How to Foster a Collaborative Research Environment

John Swift, BuroHappold Engineering
Rick Flanagan, Draper

The phrase Health, Wellness and Productivity is gaining momentum with more companies realizing that a healthy workplace is a productive workplace. Improving natural lighting, air quality and thermal comfort have all been shown to have positive impacts on cognitive function and productivity, impacts that are measurable in determining profit and economic success. In this session, we will discuss three case studies featuring high performance laboratory buildings where the client focused not only on sustainable measures, but also the indoor environment and its effect on fostering a collaborative and innovative research environment.

Case Study 1: Draper: Draper is a non-profit research and development organization that specializes in advanced technology solutions for national security, space exploration, healthcare and energy issues. In order to improve employee collaboration, Draper, along with the project team, focused on a new fully glazed atrium infill to enclose the courtyard and provide new pedestrian walkways and collaborative spaces. The presenters will take the audience through the issues of designing, building, and operating a high performance, sustainable building including: site impact, water, energy, indoor environmental quality, materials, all with a focus on health, well being and productivity.

Case Study 2: Genzyme Headquarters: Genzyme is one of the world's leading biotechnology companies devoted to green technology and a productive workplace. This LEED Platinum building features a high performance curtain wall glazing system with operable windows on all floors. More than 32% of the exterior envelope is a ventilated double fašade that blocks solar gains in summer and winter. This portion of the session will focus on how the company was able to improve staff productivity by an estimated $5M in annual value, while also discussing how the total green cost of the facility which was roughly $22M - had a five year payback period.

Case Study 3: Caltech Laboratory Renovation: This LEED Platinum laboratory building is a cutting edge, sustainable facility for energy science advancement. The case study will focus on a variety of green measures - ranging from land use and site ecology, bioclimatic design and light and air, water cycle, energy flows and energy future - that allowed the building to become a high performing, flexible, interactive and light-filled renovation project.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the role that indoor environmental quality plays in the sustainable laboratory environment
  • Identify WELL and its potential applications in research facilities
  • Realize the significance of fresh air and light and its effect on cognitive function
  • Understand optimization of daylighting while minimizing glare and unwanted solar heat gain


John Swift is a principal in BuroHappold Engineering's Boston office. He has more than 25 years of experience in high performance building systems engineering design, and has delivered solutions for research, commercial and academic facilities that require effective and reliable infrastructure for the optimization of occupant health, safety and comfort, while minimizing energy and water consumption. John is currently working on Brown University's new School of Engineering.

Rick Flanagan has served in a variety of management positions at Draper during the past 30 years. He holds a BS from UMass and an MBA from Bentley University. In his current role, he leads a strong team of professionals responsible for managing and modernizing a large campus in Cambridge, Ma. Significant efforts currently underway include the construction of a 22,000 sf Atrium being built to create collaboration space for technical employees and Core/shell floor renovations.


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