Comparison of Lab Design Drivers in USA and EU

Richard Walder, BuroHappold Engineering
Justin Molé, BuroHappold Engineering

This paper is the result of analysis carried out by the two designers: Justin Molé, an associate from Boston and Richard Walder, an associate director from London. Both are experienced designers who are working on research lab projects. They will bring a transatlantic perspective on the design of lab facilities.

The paper will compare and contrast design solutions and design methods on both sides of the Atlantic. We will discuss the factors that drive design decisions including: regulatory environment; appetite for innovation and associated risk; cost of energy; client standards and motivation. Design decision-making processes will be compared, whether making decisions through life cycle cost analysis, or being driven by regulation.

We will look at how these different environments affect the design process and the different kinds of analysis that designers use. We will take a detailed look into how differences in approach to laboratory design impact HVAC systems and how this ultimately affects buildings in operation. We will consider the commonly used design guidelines as they specifically apply to science and technology facilities.

We will then look at the nature and types of system characteristics created by these different environments and approaches to lab design. The relative merits of the solutions will be critiqued between the two speakers each with their different points of reference.

Learning Objectives

  • An understanding of the factors that influence the difference between low energy and low carbon.
  • An understanding of relative difference between international regulation relating to energy and carbon.
  • An appreciation of global best practice relating to green labs, and different approaches to laboratory design methods.
  • An understanding of different approached to evaluating alternative low energy/carbon design solutions.


Richard Walder is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer based in London, UK, with over 11 years' experience working across a range of projects in the UK and the Middle East. For the last 3 years, Richard has been leading the MEP design of two major laboratory facilities in the UK, both of which are currently under construction. These include Quadram Institute in Norwich and Imperial College's new Biomedical Engineering Research building in London.

Justin Molé is a mechanical engineer with over nine years' experience, specializing in laboratory, healthcare, and higher education design. Throughout his career, he has worked on sustainable, high performance building design with a focus on mechanical systems. With extensive knowledge of laboratory engineering, Justin has been directly involved in the HVAC design of projects for clients ranging from Partners Healthcare, Tufts University, King Faisal Hospital and South Shore Hospitals.


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