Comparing Approaches for Ultra-Low Carbon Research Labs in Cold Climates

Ari Greenberg , BR+A Consulting Engineers
Chris Chatto, ZGF Architects
Catherine Bell, NBBJ

In this session, we will compare our strategies for approaching net zero carbon goals for two large research facilities in New England: one higher education lab and one core-and-shell developer lab. We will compare the different architectural and mechanical strategies used and the decision-making process that led to them, and contrast our approach for designing for a known institutional user versus building on spec. While unique challenges and opportunities on each project resulted in different solutions for envelope design, ventilation, energy recovery, and electrification, we found that the fundamental principles were the same: reduce loads, recover energy, electrify efficiently, and, above all, make it cost-effective.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the fundamental principles of low-carbon lab design, including load reduction, energy efficiency, and electrification;
  • Differentiate important design criteria for institutional and developer projects;
  • Familiarize with cutting-edge building performance systems, including high-performance envelopes and mechanical equipment; and
  • Develop tools to communicate critical decisions to clients and consultants to encourage sustainable outcomes.


Ari Greenberg is a Senior Associate at BR+A Consulting Engineers in Boston, MA. As an integrated member of both the HVAC design and sustainability consulting teams, his work focuses on efficiency and electrification for hard-to-heat and high-energy building typologies in the healthcare, research, commercial, and institutional sectors.

Chris Chatto is a high-performance building specialist at ZGF Architects. He is responsible for researching and facilitating the design of low carbon, efficient, and healthy buildings. His work has contributed to numerous projects achieving LEED Gold and Platinum certifications as well as achieving net zero energy use.

Biography is not currently available.


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