All-Electric Labs: A Decade in Review

Calina Ferraro, Integral Group

A decade ago, we set out to design the first all-electric, zero net energy and zero carbon lab and science buildings. Now with 10 years and multiple projects under our belt, we look back at our projects and their operational experience to review what worked, what surprised us, what we wouldn't do again, and what we're doing now as we design the next generation of zero carbon lab spaces for the future.

Looking at case studies of completed lab and science buildings, this presentation compares modeling to measured performance, presents an honest account of lessons learned, and draws on our continued relationship with lab operators to provide anecdotal feedback directly from the users. We review the different technologies we've used, including heat recovery, thermal storage, chilled beams, natural ventilation, geothermal and open water-source heat pumps, exhaust airflow control strategies, and many more, and outline the key decision-making factors that drive us toward one solution over another.

Beyond the individual technologies, we summarize our experience to provide general findings that we have learned over the years and guidance for designers, owners, and operators considering all-electric options for lab and science projects as we strive for rapid decarbonization in our built environment.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the challenges of all-electric lab and science buildings relative to other building types;
  • Learn about different technologies that can be incorporated to support all-electric and zero carbon labs;
  • Identify the challenges and opportunities of incorporating specific energy efficiency strategies and all-electric technologies in lab and science projects; and
  • Identify challenges in energy and performance modeling that arise in all-electric, zero net energy lab projects, and techniques to improve the accuracy of modeling.


Calina is a professional engineer and LEED AP with 15 years of sustainable design experience in life science, commercial, higher education, and civic projects. She leads Integral Group's San Diego office providing deep green engineering solutions across the Western U.S.


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