Decarbonization Strategies for Lab Buildings in Cold Climates

John Swift, Buro Happold

Cities, institutions and governments have developed plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gases over the next 10 to 20 years. Electrification of building systems is identified in most of these plans as a path towards reducing the usage of fossil fuels. Many building projects are now targeting net zero energy and/or net zero emissions goals. This significantly changes the system options that mechanical and electrical engineers will consider and present to building stakeholders early in the design process. What are the building scale design considerations for projects that are targeting the goal of zero combustion? This is especially challenging for lab buildings. Issues such as reliability, resiliency, ease of maintenance, health and safety need to be taken into account.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the reasons for considering electrification of lab buildings and the potential result on GHG emissions over the life of the building;
  • Understand the challenges of electrification in cold climates;
  • Understand how to consider resiliency and flexibility in an electrified building; and
  • Understand the utility infrastructure impact of an all electric building in a cold climate.


John Swift, a partner and the science and technology practice leader for Buro Happold's US region, has more than 25 years of experience in high-performance building systems engineering design. He has delivered solutions for research, commercial and academic facilities and is an active member with ASHRAE TC 2.8.


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