Under the Microscope: Two Years Running a Successful, Sustainable Lab

Marc Brune, PAE Engineers
Tim Evans, SRG Partnership

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With the inspiring goal of ending cancer as we know it, the Knight Cancer Research Building (KCRB) at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) building is part of the first large-scale program dedicated to the early detection of lethal cancers. The facility has a capacity to house 650 researchers and staff members, along with wet labs, bio-computing, research support space and a 13,000 SF vivarium, conference center, parking, and retail areas. Now in its second year of operation, the LEED Platinum facility's energy use has successfully matched the anticipated use from energy modeling during the design phase. It's also met the Architecture 2030 goals of being 70 percent more efficient than a comparable lab building in the same climate, making the building itself as impressive and impactful as the cancer research within. The presentation will explore the strategies used to achieve the high level of performance, from the perspective of the architect and engineer, showcasing the design features that led the project to LEED platinum.

The presentation demonstrates the dedication the team had for the overall cause. The panel studies the energy performance, both modeled and actual, of the lab facility, using data gathered in the last two years of operation to show the results of key design decisions. Looking at the development of KCRB, it will examine the path to achieving Architecture 2030, while exploring the synergies that occur working with a dedicated project team and an invested stakeholder group. Additionally, an exploration of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) will be shared. As a result of the performance of the Knight Cancer Research Building, the facility has proved to be a wildly successful example of the high performance goals a design-build team can reach. Lessons learned can inform future decisions and support sustainable lab design in all areas.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the importance of post-occupancy verification;
  • Identify and explain the design decisions to support meeting LEED Platinum and Arch 2030 Challenge Goals;
  • Understand how to replicate high performance laboratories in various climates and locations; and
  • Identify strategies to reduce fossil fuel use in laboratories.


Marc is a Principal and mechanical engineer with PAE. He has led mechanical and energy-systems design for many of the world's most prominent net-positive energy buildings. One of his current projects, the PAE Living Building, will be Oregon's largest and Portland's first Living Building. He believes that designers have a responsibility to create buildings that minimize resource use and is grateful to be part of a design community working toward a net zero carbon future.

Tim Evans is known for his expertise in the complex needs of sophisticated research and laboratory facilities, from nanoscience and neurology to biotechnology and veterinary medicine. With nearly 30 years of experience, he is driven by a passion for scientific inquiry and valued for his technical knowledge of building systems and his conscientious documentation. He serves as SRG's director of science and technology projects, and as a board member for the I2SL Emerald City Chapter.


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