Creating a Sustainable "Col-LAB-atorium"

Tony Atchity, PGAV Architects
Anwar Garcia, McCown Gordon Construction

Institutions are renovating aging laboratories and taking bold steps to align facility plans with their organization's strategic objectives. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the largest independent agricultural research institution in the U.S., has taken that path for their latest project to renovate their main Plant Biology facility built in the 1980's. Four overarching goals were established for the renovation which reflect the foundation's operational principles to advance sustainable practices and the responsible stewardship of resources:

  • Foster the Foundation's push towards collaborative team-based research
  • Take a proactive approach to energy management and measurement
  • Maximize value from the construction dollars invested
  • Return aging building stock and infrastructure to productive use

This session will highlight the planning, design and construction process utilized for the renovation, and review the key strategies that were integrated into the design to achieve the Foundation's goals and objectives. Specific topics will include:

  • Supporting the Collaborative Research Model, including maximizing opportunities for shared equipment and instrumentation and developing systems, such as lighting, which promote ease of use
  • Increasing functionality and total available research and research support area and capabilities within the parameters of existing space limitations
  • Energy Management and Measurement Systems, including air sampling, detailed monitoring of electrical panels serving mechanical and laboratory equipment, use of VAV Venturi valves and low flow fume hoods
  • Maximizing Construction Dollars, including review of lab fit-up, case work and equipment and fixtures to ‘right size' these items and promote shared use, resulting in first cost savings and allowing more dollars to be applied toward energy conservation features

Sustainable strategies were also pursued that align with the land stewardship and agricultural mission of the Foundation including construction waste diversion and targeting regional materials for installation with a high percentage of recycled content.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how a collaborative research model can promote sustainability objectives
  • Identify cost efficiencies in laboratory design and ways to align the budget with the goals of the research institution, allowing funds to be shepharded towards resource conservation technologies.
  • Identify construction measures and protocols that can reinforce the sustainable goals of a project
  • Identify methods of energy management and monitoring that promote conservation as well as improve health and safety practices and protect the research being conducted


Tony Atchity is an architect and lab planner with PGAV Architects, where he is a leader in the firm's science and technology practice. Tony has been involved in the design of laboratory facilities for leading private sector and institutional clients, including new buildings and demanding renovations. Tony's high performance laboratory projects have been recognized for architectural design and sustainability by the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and R&D Magazine.

Anwar Garcia is a Project Manager with McCownGordon Construction and specializes in science and technology projects. Anwar has spent most of his career working on laboratory projects ranging in scale, program, and budget, for diverse public and private sector clients. Anwar's experience and expertise in the construction of technically advanced buildings, along with his leadership abilities, allow his construction teams to successfully deliver building projects for his clients.


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