A Winning Approach to the Greening of Labs: A Case Study

Chris Schmidt, B2Q Associates, Inc.
Brad Newell, B2Q Associates, Inc.

Recent projects with a University, and co-sponsored by the Utility and state agency, provided the opportunity to develop an approach to optimizing lab building controls that proved to be a win for all parties involved. These projects utilized a simple, but effective multi-step and multi-disciplinary team approach that lead to lower overall costs, increased safety, improved performance, and considerable energy reductions, and most importantly, happier lab occupants.

The multi-disciplinary team approach was the underlying key to the success of these projects. This team included engineers, certified industrial hygienist (CIH), controls & TAB contractors, and involvement from University Physical Plant, EH&S and lab PIs. Critical to the success and efficiency of this process was the involvement of the University EH&S and lab PIs as well as a third-party CIH, without their involvement and buy-in these projects would have failed.

Additionally, rather than embarking on a comprehensive and involved project from the beginning, a step-wise approach was taken. First performing go/no-go scoping audits of multiple buildings to identify good candidates for controls and ventilation rate tune ups. Once the candidates were chosen, a more comprehensive investment-grade effort was conducted to review each lab, fume hood and even lab support and common areas in detail, with a focus on re-engineering their controls and ventilation rates to meet current use, hazard levels, and the latest ANSI Z9.5-2012 standards. The newly-engineered controls sequences, setpoints and ventilation rates were reviewed and approved by University EH&S, Physical Plant and the third-party CIH. The modifications and upgrades were then implemented, with comprehensive commissioning, TAB, and measurement and verification (M&V).

Multiple lab buildings were assessed, with two resulting in viable projects. These two buildings, which were only 13 years old and 7 years old respectively, were completely recommissioned, with new controls sequences, setpoints and brought up to current ventilation rates as well as all failed controls hardware repaired or replaced. This process was completed in a smooth, effective and efficient manner due to early and continuous involvement of key University personnel from EH&S, lab PIs and Physical Plant in addition to the multi-disciplinary team of qualified contractors. In the end the University was left with overall safer, more comfortable, higher-performing and balanced buildings while resulting over 30% energy reductions in each. This paper will present the process that was followed, as well as present the results and lessons learned from each project.

Learning Objectives

  • Improve ability to identify, develop, implement, and maintain a successful lab energy efficiency and optimization project by taking a step-wise and multi-disciplinary approach.
  • Increase awareness of the importance of a collaborative team approach as a main driver of the success of lab safety and energy optimization projects building the right team.
  • Provide a deeper understanding of the interaction between lab ventilation and fume hood controls in terms of safety, performance, and energy.
  • Highlight the importance of identifying changes in use, updated standards, and the ability to account for future changes in lab use or standards.


Chris is a Senior Project Manager with B2Q Associates and is a mechanical engineer with a Masters of Science in Engineering from the University of Dayton, with a focus in commercial and industrial building energy efficiency. He has over 16 years of experience working in building efficiency, HVAC mechanical and controls systems optimization, re-commissioning, and project management and he co-teaches the Association of Energy Engineers Existing Buildings Commissioning course.

Brad is a Project Manager with B2Q Associates and is a mechanical engineer with a Masters of Science in Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, with a focus in industrial building energy efficiency. He has over 3 years of experience working in energy efficiency, controls systems, and project oversight. In his spare time, Brad makes some seriously good maple syrup.


Note: I2SL did not edit or revise abstract or biography text. Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s).