Can Program Flexibility and Energy Efficiency Coexist?

Jagan Pillai, Atelier Ten
Rushil Desai, Atelier Ten

With the growth of the sharing economy, developers and universities are building multi-use core and shell laboratory buildings to be occupied by future tenants. These buildings have to be designed to account for flexibility in terms of loads, ventilation requirements, layout changes etc. Designing such a laboratory building to be high performance is a challenge.

The authors are going to share their experience working on such projects and the challenges faced in designing the building to be energy efficient. The approach used and coordination involved in such effort will be shared with the audience. The authors will also share their approach towards analyzing and selecting appropriate mechanical system selection, sizing and controls to achieve improved energy performance along with providing flexibility for future program changes. Analysis results for use of systems such as all air variable air volume (VAV) systems, decoupled ventilation and conditioning, energy storage, efficient dehumidification using desiccant or wrap around systems, energy recovery systems for both air and water side, and other HVAC controls approaches will be shared. The importance of sensitivity studies in for making appropriate design decision will also be discussed. The importance of tenant participation/engagement will be highlighted for the efficient design and operation of the laboratory building through tenant guidelines and possible incentive programs.

In addition to the design approach for new construction building, analysis of how similar existing building are operating, and associated lessons learnt will be discussed using actual metered data from such buildings.

Learning Objectives

  • learn about the challenges associated with designing an energy efficient lab where program flexibility is key;
  • Understand the importance of tenant engagement in efficient design and operation of labs;
  • learn about the approach towards analyzing and selecting appropriate mechanical systems for buildings with program uncertainties; and
  • learn about how existing tenant occupied lab buildings perform.


As an Associate at Atelier Ten, Jagan is an expert in the application of building energy analysis, including optimization of mechanical, and electrical system design for high-performance laboratory buildings. Jagan holds a M.S. in Mech Engg from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a B.S. in Mech Engg from the University of Mumbai,India. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado, LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Energy Manager.

As an Environmental Designer at Atelier Ten, Rushil is interested in net-zero energy, building to grid interoperability, and measurement and verification. He brings expertise resulting from a diverse set of experiences in energy engineering, net-zero energy and sustainability. Rushil holds a B.Tech. and M.Tech. in Energy Engg. from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and a M.S. in Energy Science, Technology and Policy with a concentration in Civil and Environmental Engg. from Carnegie Mel


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