Stump the Chumps: Can Labs Be Both Safe and Efficient?

Wendell Brase, University of California, Irvine
James Connelly, My Green Lab
Catherine Hurley, Argonne National Laboratory
Thomas C. Smith, 3Flow
Otto Van Geet, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Access the Recording

Can you stump these lab experts? Challenge this group that has collectively been working in labs for well over 100 years of experience in laboratory facilities. In this facilitated question and answer session, a panel of leading professionals in sustainable laboratory design and implementation will debunk common misconceptions about efficiency and safety in critical research facilities. The session will direct questions towards a comprehensive review of important components to include in a sustainable lab program, including how sustainable research practices, ventilation risk assessment, and energy efficient design specifications also optimize safety. This session will also provide the opportunity for attendees to break-out into groups and discuss common issues and collectively brainstorm solutions. Attendees will walk away from this session with a deeper understanding of laboratory ventilation and how safety is enhanced in efficient, high-performance laboratories.

Learning Objectives

  • Implement best practices for laboratory ventilation systems to both reduce energy bills and put the safety of occupants first;
  • Understand lessons learned from over experience in forming a successful Smart Labs program;
  • Understand the importance of engaging researchers and stakeholders for a successful Smart Labs program; and
  • Understand important components to include in a sustainable lab program.


Wendell Brase is the University of California,Irvine's first Associate Chancellor for Sustainability.For 25 years,he led the UCI sustainability program as Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Business Services,which received California's highest environmental award,the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award(2008;2013).He continues to lead efforts in UC's Carbon-Neutrality Initiative and chairs both the UC Global Climate Leadership Council and UC Energy Services Governing Board.

James is the Chief Executive Officer of My Green Lab. He is a frequent keynote speaker on regenerative design, sustainable business, and laboratory sustainability. Before joining My Green Lab, James was the Vice President of Strategic Growth for the International Living Future Institute, where he led international growth strategy and became a founding board member of Living Future Institute Europe. During this time, James managed strategic sustainability consulting with some of the world's most progressive companies and institutions, including Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Cleveland Clinic, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and Harvard University. James received a 2012 Fulbright Fellowship to research on green building rating systems in China and was selected as a Greenbiz 30 under 30 Sustainable Business Leader in 2016, and a Net Zero Energy Trailblazer in 2019.

Catherine Hurley is Sustainability Program Manager for Argonne National Laboratory where she directs projects that increase efficiency of facilities and operations while reducing the use of natural resources. Catherine has a Bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Dayton and is a Registered Professional Engineer, LEED Accredited Professional, ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional, and Certified Energy Manager.

Thomas C. Smith is the president and CEO of 3Flow, formerly Exposure Control Technologies (ECT), Inc. Mr. Smith has more than 30 years of experience helping research facilities design, build, operate, manage, and maintain laboratory hoods and ventilation systems. He founded ECT, Inc. in 1994 to help research facilities achieve safe, energy-efficient, and sustainable performance laboratory ventilation systems. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (industrial hygiene) from the University of North Carolina. Mr. Smith serves on the board for the International Institute of Sustainable Labs (I2SL) and has served as chair of the ASHRAE TC9.10 Laboratory Systems, ANSI/AIHA Z9 Standards for Ventilation and Health, and ANSI/ASHRAE 110 Fume Hood Testing Standard.

Otto Van Geet is a Principal Engineer in the Integrated Applications Center at NREL with over 20 years of experience in the design, construction, and operation of energy efficient research facilities. A founding member of Labs21, Van Geet continues to provide technical guidance for the program. He is the recipient of the 2007 Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management and the 2011 GreenGov Green Innovation Presidential Award for the NREL Research Support Facility data center.


Note: Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s) with the exception of minor edits for style, grammar consistency, and length.