Safety and Sustainable Design: Finding Complementary Opportunities in Challenging Renovation Projects

Julia Janaro, Hanbury
Sarah Corbitt, Hanbury

The reuse or repurpose of existing structures typically saves 50-75% of embodied carbon as compared to new construction. Reuse projects are common within the research community but also provide challenges for safety and energy efficiency goals. Our approach has been to transform underutilized spaces into cutting-edge technology laboratories that meet and exceed the "highest and best use" for our clients. In this presentation, the design team will share case studies from a range of project scales and typologies that have created value for all stakeholders:

  • Crop Protection Headquarters: This aging research campus is being transformed to accommodate robotics and artificial intelligence. Design needs were addressed through building layout, zoning of hazardous areas, educating users, and right-sizing fume hoods, powder hoods, ventilated cabinets, and snorkels.
  • University Renovation: The most energy-efficient opportunities were found in managing plug loads and supporting ventilation. The team worked within the aging building to meet and exceed EHS guidelines.
  • Incubator space: These developer projects create lab space in former office buildings. New ventilation systems are sized to safely accommodate first needs, and also flexibly provide for future program.

While each project is unique, our team has found common strategies that would be informative and directly applicable for fellow designers, researchers, and building owners in their own environments.

Learning Objectives

  • Review methods and tools used to assess the reduced embodied carbon and sustainabilty impact of building renovations. The presentation will also address strategies for building owners to compare the trade-offs of new construction as compared to renovation;
  • Prioritize renovation strategies that address the most significant savings for energy and water efficiencies within an existing structure such as building systems, process demands, ventilation, and equipment plug loads;
  • Assess the current best practices for environmental health and safety in the context of an aging facility. Design teams need to develop unique approaches to work within existing conditions without comprimising occupant safety; and
  • Investigate design strategies intended to re-think existing facilites as innovative lab programs that can flexibly adapt with new technologies and discuss critical communication points during the design and construction process.


With over 20 years of experience with Higher Education and S&T projects, Julia has developed research spaces for a wide range of public and private clients. Her role at Hanbury includes collaborating on projects, developing sustainability resources and initiatives, and integrating wellness principles into workplace strategies efforts.

As an Architect and Lab Planner, Sarah's experience includes projects for higher education and private research to support pharma, pediatric oncology research, healthcare, and imaging work. She incorporates green building and healthy environmental practices as a value consistently throughout all of her designs.


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