Let's Bend the Curve: New Strategies to Maximize Ongoing Building Performance

Michele Sagehorn, Red Car Analytics

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The recently completed Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) Laboratory on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus is an example of a building helping the University of California meet its aggressive sustainability goals, including "2025 carbon neutrality" through not only its efficient design but also through prioritized ongoing operational performance. The IGB is a 77,000-square-foot facility consisting of wet/dry laboratories and office spaces. More impressively, the project has eliminated onsite carbon emissions from space and water heating completely. Combined with passive design strategies, the IGB includes many innovative elements such as heat pumps, heat recovery, radiant floors, chilled beams, sub-metering, plug load controls, and solar photovoltaics (PV).

One would expect an immediate impact on energy efficiency with an innovative design and green HVAC systems. However, adding technology to the building system does not automatically result in efficient operations. In fact, high performance buildings often increase complexity, require integration of many systems, and demand additional operational resources. Commissioning coupled with "ongoing commissioning" is a path to improving building energy consumption during its entire life cycle. It is key to maximizing results and realizing long-term benefits.

Using the IGB as a case study, this presentation will discuss new commissioning challenges in all-electric buildings and introduce the need for a new management approach to operating buildings through an ongoing process to resolve operating problems, improve comfort, optimize energy use, and identify retrofit opportunities. The IGB serves as an example of a scalable solution for the University of California other buildings to "bend the curve" on climate change.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand new commissioning challenges of all-electric buildings and how to approach them through commissioning efforts;
  • Learn how Ongoing/Continuous Commissioning can be implemented successfully;
  • Recognize integration issues on complex buildings or laboratories; and
  • Identify key energy efficiency opportunities.


Michele Sagehorn has worked for over 15 years on high performance buildings, including as a leading commissioning agent. From her background as a quality assurance engineer in the automotive industry, she brings to commissioning a standard of care that is unique to the built environment. Her experience spans numerous project types, including leadership on eight ZNE and 12 carbon-neutral buildings. In 2018, Michele and her colleagues launched Red Car Analytics.


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