Low Carbon and Resilient Design Strategies for Laboratory Building Enclosures

Jillian Burgess, RWDI

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With the climate changing, laboratory buildings are forced to not only mitigate against more intense weather events, but also adapt to changed and changing climate reality. It is imperative that building construction and operations reduce, and ideally eliminate, carbon emissions through lower energy consumption and more durable and lasting construction. Incorporating resiliency measures can help ensure buildings maintain their functional use and prevent losses during utility outages. This session explores these synergies between mitigation and adaptation measures by discussing recent sustainability and restoration initiatives taken for academic and research facilities and campuses.

The discussion will focus on the implementation of specific construction approaches from schematic design through construction and integration. Each approach will be considered with respect to reducing operational energy use through strategies such as increased insulation, increased air tightness, and optimal daylight design. Consideration for ongoing maintenance and adaptation of the existing building stock is also crucial for a comprehensive campus plan. Finally, enclosure design strategies must consider the ability to maintain comfortable or operable interior conditions during utility outages. This session includes several case studies with key considerations for academic and research laboratory facilities and campuses that are looking to improve sustainability, resiliency, and durability to achieve lower carbon emissions.

Learning Objectives

  • Implement low-carbon building enclosure strategies from campus-wide approaches to small scale detailing of building enclosures;
  • Optimize enclosure design strategies for durability, reduced maintenance, reuse and resiliency;
  • Identify laboratory-specific enclosure design strategies associated with occupant comport; and
  • Understand the benefits of focused enclosure design details for laboratory operations.


Jill has contributed to the design and delivery of high-performance building enclosures for buildings around the world. Our clients benefit from the depth of her technical knowledge—especially in building performance modeling—as well as the breadth of her project experience. Jill's work has focused in particular on balancing daylight and heat gain in glass facades, and on developing a holistic understanding of the life cycles of various building-enclosure assembly types.


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