Lab Building Renovations as an Alternative to New Construction: Pros and Cons

Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder
Alicia Pandimos Maurer, AIA, LEED-AP BD&C, CannonDesign
Wayne Northcutt, University of Colorado Boulder
Shannon Horn, University of Colorado Boulder

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Renovations of lab buildings can be challenging, but the fact of the matter is that, when possible, it is usually the most sustainable, planet-friendly choice. After all, renovation means reuse of a building structure and its embodied carbon footprint, and it often means avoiding expansion of campus square footage, which requires resources to support. What are the obstacles (or cons) that prevent us from renovating and push us towards new construction? Is it cost, structural limitations, the need for more lab space, fundraising, or campus culture? Presenters will look at some examples of lab building renovation projects that have been able to employ solutions to overcome obstacles and talk about the pros gained by choosing to do a renovation project.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the carbon footprint of new construction vs. renovation of lab buildings
  • Learn about the pros and cons of lab building renovation projects
  • Learn about solutions used to overcome obstacles faced by renovation projects
  • Gain knowledge about example lab building renovation projects and their success


Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar has a doctorate in Analytical Chemistry and 15 years of laboratory research experience. She manages the Green Labs Program at CU Boulder which utilizes a campus-wide, team approach to conservation in labs and involves partnership with scientists and many other campus units with connections to lab research. She is also dedicated to the Bringing Efficiency to Research (BETR) Grants effort aimed at connecting efficient resource use with research funding from sponsors.

Alicia Pandimos Maurer is a Senior Vice President and market sector leader at CannonDesign focused in Southern California. Her specialties include high performance envelope design, genetics, gene and cell therapy, personalized medicine, microbiology, cell culture, PCR and sequencing labs. Alicia is an experienced sustainability specialist and LEED consultant focused on bringing this knowledge to other professionals. She helped found the Colorado chapter of I2SL, sit on the San Diego I2SL board, and continues to focus on peer education.

Wayne Northcutt is a campus planner, specializing in science and research facilities. Also a licensed architect, Mr. Northcutt has planned almost $400M in facilities during his ten+ years with the University of Colorado Boulder. Originally a chemical engineering major, Wayne received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design from the University of California Berkeley and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Michigan in 1995.

Shannon Horn is a professional engineer and LEED AP®, with a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University. Ms. Horn is the Principle campus mechanical engineer for CU Boulder, where she holds a diversity of responsibilities from commissioning agent, to AHJ to supporting energy conservation projects and initiatives campus-wide.


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