Next Steps for Advancing Smart Labs Working Session at I2SL

Catherine Hurley, Argonne National Laboratory

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To improve the energy efficiency of America's laboratories, the DOE launched the Better Buildings Smart Lab Accelerator (SLA) in 2016. The SLA is a national leadership initiative to reduce laboratory energy use across a portfolio of laboratory buildings by at least 20 percent through leveraging best practices and advancing industry collaboration around lessons learned. Since 2016, 19 SLA participating owners and other partners have been working together develop standardized approaches to overcoming common barriers to energy efficiency in laboratories. The outputs of the SLA are publically available via the Smart Labs Toolkit, which has been housed on the I2SL website since May 2020. The toolkit provides a systematic roadmap to delivering safe and efficient laboratories by implementing operational changes, technological upgrades, and strategic energy management approaches.

The SLA was sunset in the spring of 2020 and the participating laboratories from universities, hospitals, national laboratories and other federal agencies are working to keep their momentum going on this important work. I2SL is the planned organization to support on-going collaboration around Smart Labs best practices and SLA participants are eager to get engaged with I2SL. To support this transition and integration with I2SL, Argonne National Laboratory will dive into this topic further and develop a roadmap for action. The goal of the working session would be to bring together the SLA partners with a wider set of stakeholders from I2SL to identify and prioritize the next steps in advancing Smart Labs. The session will include an overview of the Smart Labs Toolkit and a presentation of initial ideas that were developed at a workshop in November 2019 that was attended by 50 individuals representing seven national laboratories. Key themes to discuss and gain input include: communications, integrating ES&H with sustainability, engaging with the lab users, standardizing metrics and performance measurements, understanding regulatory drivers, expanding technical capacity, improving financial analysis, embedding into facility improvements and new construction, and change management. Through an inclusive and collaborative process, sessions attendees will bring diverse perspectives including those from technical/professional service providers, equipment and products, owners and I2SL working group/staff to identify high-value areas for next steps in implementing Smart Labs practices and building this work into the I2SL framework. The I2SL Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity to make time for this important discussion and accelerate the next phase of advancing Smart Labs across the industry.

Learning Objectives

  • Define a Smart Lab and key drivers for building and improving facilities as Smart Labs;
  • Describe the key elements of a Smart Labs program;
  • Identify key barriers that facility owners have identified as priority for addressing in order to advance Smart Labs best practices.; and
  • Investigate activities that I2SL can work on collaboratively to remove the barriers and deliver the benefits of Smart Labs.


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.


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