Generating Energy Savings for a LEED Gold Research Facility

Kevin McNutt, BSA LifeStructures

The new multidisciplinary research building brings together the College of Science and College of Engineering in an open and collaborative lab environment with a focus on drug discovery.

Achieving LEED Gold for a campus research laboratory requires significant LEED credits in the energy savings bucket. University of Notre Dame's McCourtney Hall achieved a projected 27% energy cost savings over the baseline energy code despite having zero control over the utility source generation plants. In addition to zero control over the source utilities, the project had to overcome exhaust air flexibility required to accommodate up to 220 fume hoods (1000 sf/hood density) spread across four (4) floors over the next fifty years. To achieve the 27% energy cost savings, the mechanical system utilized a high-efficiency air side heat recovery system, year-round water side heat recovery chillers and several occupancy control strategies; such as lighting control, fume hood capture velocity reduction and space temperature setback. The presentation will outline the application of energy saving designs utilized for this project, the complexity encountered for this particular project, actual energy cost savings where able and the lessons learned/issues encountered after building turn over.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn energy savings techniques to reduce energy costs by 27% where utility source generation (chilled water and steam) are already fixed.
  • Learn mechanical system control strategies during unoccupied time periods aimed at reducing energy consumption.
  • Identify potential operational issues learned during real-world operation of highly customized, energy saving control strategies.
  • Apply both water side and air side heat recovery in a campus setting where all central utilities are not available year round while maximizing energy savings.


As the design engineer for healing and discovery environments, Kevin has created mechanical systems for some of the most sophisticated projects BSALS has completed. Kevin is recognized for his leadership in the innovative use of system design and controls in an effort to deliver high performance, sustainable facilities. He has served as Design Engineer for two of the University of Notre Dame's LEED Gold research lab projects and the first LEED for Healthcare hospital in Indiana.


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