Revitalizing Lab Buildings: Florida State University Breathes New Life Into Existing Lab Systems

Tyler Dykes, AEI
Jim Stephens, Florida State University

In late 2019, FSU and AEI undertook an effort to retro-commission existing research laboratories and improve their energy performance as part of a larger scale progressive program led by FSU Utilities and Engineering Services to enhance safety, energy efficiency, and sustainability within FSU's existing laboratory facilities. A broad, deep history with lab design and commissioning was critical to the successful execution of this project in support of FSU's vision for safe, functional, efficient, well-documented research spaces. These case studies will summarize how AEI and FSU collaborated to leverage this experience on two distinct lab facilities and will present results for each building. Details will also include an overview of the process and its implementation, explanation of the challenges encountered, and lessons learned.

This discussion provides examples from a systematic approach to planning tasks, assessing systems, and optimizing the performance of existing lab facilities. This approach can be tailored to meet the needs of specific lab programs and client-types while achieving the noted success criteria in a wide range of existing lab facilities. In the context of a future-forward viewpoint, this presentation will also carefully examine the skillsets, tools, and experience that are necessary for these types of projects to succeed in the future, as well as additional strategies to further enhance the outcomes of retro-commissioning efforts on other projects.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the need and business case for engaging in retro-commissioning efforts for existing lab facilities;
  • Understand the risks to personnel in the building, research programs, and building systems inherent to this type of project;
  • Establish a structured approach to planning tasks, assessing systems, and optimizing the performance of existing lab facilities; and
  • Define success criteria and evaluate the technical skills, tools, and expertise that are necessary to execute this type of effort.


As a member of AEI's Science & Technology Group, Tyler leads design teams on new construction and renovation projects for sustainable laboratories with highly specialized and technically challenging applications for a wide range of clients. His projects have earned LEED and Green Globes certifications including three new LEED Platinum facilities.

Jim Stephens currently serves as the Executive Director of Utilities, Maintenance, & Engineering for Florida State University. In addition, he is currently the interim Director of EH&S. He has extensive experience in manufacturing, automation, statistical process control, utilities production and distribution, logistics, maintenance management, operations management, technology commercialization, energy management, and sustainable energy. His team has been a leader is ACH optimization programs at the University.


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