PNNL Energy Sciences Center: Facilitating the Next Generation of Energy Research

Daniel Spencer, Arup
Skye Smith, Kirksey Architecture

The Energy Sciences Center (ESC) at Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL) is a new, DOE-funded, laboratory in Richland, Washington. The mission of the facility is to consolidate existing research of energy technologies into a single, state-of-the-art facility. The facility will include 48 lab suites of varying use for research, as well as office and amenity space to support the researchers. Each typical lab is envisioned as a fully flexible, modular workspace with a full complement of MEP services to allow for fast renovation as the needs of the researchers develop.

The design team has incorporated several energy conservation measures (ECMs) to create a low-energy lab with a target energy cost 30% less than ASHRAE 90.1-2013. Most prominently, this project lays the groundwork for a campus wide heat sharing system to serve the current and future facilities at PNNL. At full fit-out, this heat sharing network will allow for free heat rejected from facilities with a year-round cooling demand (data centers, process loads, etc.) to be used for low-to-no energy heating in facilities with a net heating demand.

Within the ESC itself, other ECMs incorporated into the design include VAV air systems, economizer cooling and heating, as well as a staged heating approach which prioritizes low energy/carbon uses for heating (campus loop heat rejection & heat pump/heat recovery heating). The plant is anticipated to serve a majority of the overall heating load without the use of natural-gas combustion.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the benefits of modularized lab layouts on user flexibility and construction waste reduction;
  • Understand the proposed campus heat sharing network and its impact on campus-level energy reduction;
  • Understand how best-practice design and ECM's were leveraged to meet the projects energy performance targets; and
  • Understand how a staged heating system can be leveraged to maximize use of low-carbon impact heat sources.


Daniel Spencer is a Senior Mechanical Engineer at Arup. He has experience working on laboratory projects of varying scales, from small tenant improvements to large, new construction facilities. He has an interest in leveraging sustainable design practices and novel solutions to create energy efficient laboratory spaces.

Skye Smith is a senior Project Manager supporting the Science and Technology Team at Kirksey. She has a strong background in laboratory projects with a wide variety of clients. She has experience with projects ranging from 2,600 sf lab TI's to 1 million sf+ research campuses. Prior to joining the firm, Skye was a Project Manager at ZGF Architects.


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