Morning Roundtables

Wednesday and Thursday mornings began with coffee, breakfast, and a discussion about emerging topics in laboratory sustainability. The Labs21 2010 Annual Conference agenda featured Morning Roundtables to provide an opportunity for discussion on the ideas and challenges faced by today's high-performance facilities.

Wednesday, September 29

Thursday, September 30

Wednesday, September 29

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Laboratory Lighting and Lighting Controls—How Much, When, and Where

Led by:

  • Tim Kehrli, Lutron Electronics Co.

As in any critical environment, lighting strategies for laboratories must consider light intensities, reflective surfaces, directional patterns, heat output, proximity to work, access to daylight, user equipment, glazing and shading systems, and much more. Laboratory furniture systems, laboratory module design, lighting technologies, and controls must be well integrated to meet user needs and optimize the performance of each component safely, efficiently, and conveniently. In an ever changing environment with increasingly complex activities, how do designers of laboratory spaces integrate with furniture system manufacturers to address the challenges for this environment? Do current standard practices support the users? Should more options be provided having clear and proven advantages? Lurton Electronics Co., a world leader in lighting control systems, believes the answers to these questions should be a resounding "yes!" Therefore, Lutron Electronics Co. invited the Labs21 Community to begin a dialog to consider these challenges in this morning roundtable and to form a working group to identify possible solutions based on the best lighting systems and controls coming into the market.

8 – 9 a.m.

Global Sustainable Laboratory Network International Benchmarking Initiative

Led by:

  • Adelmo Antello, High Identity Buildings, S.L.
  • Peter James, Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement (HEEPI)
  • Paul Mathew, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Burkhard Winter, DIN
  • Phil Wirdzek, I2SL

The Global Sustainable Laboratory Network is an active group of
international experts and organizations committed to working together
on specific laboratory topics. During the past year, the group met several times via the Internet (Skype) to develop its first target of collaboration:
laboratory energy benchmarking guidelines. The group convened for a
meeting at the Labs21 2010 Annual Conference to take up discussions
on creating agreed definitions and metrics on benchmarking using the
Labs21 Energy Benchmarking Tool to help guide the discussion toward a global system of terms and metrics.


Assessing Architectural Innovation for Whole Building Lifecycle Sustainability—What is Effective for Users?

Led by:

  • Alison McDougall-Well, University of Cambridge

Specific architectural innovations for flexible interdisciplinary bench laboratories are often radical and are becoming increasingly popular (ranging from flexible modular casework and servicing strategies to connectivity strategies such as bridges, atriums, and collaborative spaces as well as specific LEED criteria such as daylighting). Ms. McDougall-Well presented a matrix based on the results of several pilot case studies at a number of United States and United Kingdom bio- and nano-science laboratories into the user's experience (from bench scientists to facilities managers) of these innovations. Research into purpose-built laboratory facilities is benchmarked with converted laboratories in use.

The user's experience provides a novel source of data for assessing which of the architectural features are more effective in facilitating bench research and institutional flexibility. This research fits well with the Labs21 ethos of whole building sustainability; sustainability here focuses on the long-term lifecycle of the building as a flexible instrument for advancing science with the minimum possible disruption to the fabric of the building when, for example, changing research focus or discipline, or adding visiting scientists or teams. This approach is leading edge in that it is observational and based on assessment of a building’s architectural features in use from a human-centred perspective.

This roundtable engaged stakeholders from every part of the commissioning, design, and use process and ask for their input on architectural innovations and their effect on management of and scientific practice in these buildings. This roundtable sought to elicit perspectives on the issue of architectural innovations to shape the specific aspects to be observed during the longer term case studies in 2011 and, therefore, to tailor the focus of the case studies more specifically to the needs of stakeholders.


Retro-Commissioning in a Large Multi-Building Research and Academic Campus

Led by:

  • Pieter van der Mersch, University of Colorado at Boulder

In his presentation, the author described a low-cost approach to retro-commission buildings in a campus with over 100 buildings of significant size that are being used for offices, classrooms, and laboratories. This work, spanning over six years, has resulted in a 2 to 5 percent reduction in energy use per building per year, about a 30 percent reduction in service calls, about a 25 percent reduction in maintenance costs, and a reduction in emergency calls to nearly zero. It has also set the basis for an improved preventive maintenance program.


Winning the Cold War with Room Temperature Biological Sample Storage

Led By:

  • Susan Vargas, Stanford University

Room temperature storage of biological samples has great potential to reduce energy costs and associated air pollution, free up valuable laboratory space, and enhance sample security. However, this new technology faces many of the same barriers to adoption as other energy efficiency improvements and perhaps a few unique to laboratory settings. At this Morning Roundtable, Ms. Vargas lead a discussion of these barriers and explored how research institutions might overcome them. She shared results from two years of work with room temperature sample storage at Stanford University and encouraged participants to share their own experiences and ideas for promoting rapid adoption of this beneficial technology.


Thursday, September 30
8 – 9 a.m.

Developing a Laboratory Classification System to Differentiate Laboratory Design Requirements

Led By:

  • J. Patrick Carpenter, AIA, LEED AP, Facility Performance Engineers

Conventional wisdom and general practice often dominate multiple aspects of the design of many laboratories. But what really drives those conventions and practices is often built on questionable assumptions or misunderstood requirements.

Many laboratory activities are necessarily uncertain, involve a wide range of needs and risks, and continuously evolve according to industry, regulatory, and technology changes. This is the nature of "science" and its exploration. Demands for flexibility often accompany these fundamental drivers of laboratory design. Expectations of "flexible laboratories" are intensified by needs to address the expectations of diverse users and their unique requirements.

Laboratory users and designers all too often try to create the best laboratory module that can be all things to all users, but there are many prices to be paid for such "ultimate" solutions—more space, more hoods, more bench, more ventilation, and inevitably greater first cost and more operating costs.

In the names of ultimate safety and ultimate flexibility or sometimes just as a solution to problems and needs that never materialize, many projects create conservative and over-designed solutions.

Many of the "standards" of criteria and design approaches for laboratories are based on generic definitions of laboratory use and activity. They normally use conservative objectives to "safely" cover a very large variety of activities. However, spaces that are called "laboratory" represent an incredibly diverse spectrum of needs, activities, and risks. Laboratory designers and users need a more precise way of defining the scale of their needs to help differentiate laboratory requirements in sufficiently specific terms that can offer more focused, appropriate, and cost effective solutions.

If a system of broadly defined parameters could be developed that captures the essentials of risks and the effectiveness of various types of solutions, laboratory designs could be much more appropriately responsive to real needs.

By doing this, designers and owners could avoid much of the conservatism and corresponding installation and operational costs necessitated by increasing quantities of airflows, containment devices, and complex control systems designed to decrease energy use and increase reliability. In essence, laboratory designs would be more "sustainable."

This discussion explored a system of classifications of laboratory types and applications. It considered the means and methods through which designers, owners, and users could more effectively discuss and classify their core objectives and needs and ultimately create more appropriate, affordable, and sustainable solutions.


Smart Sample Storage: Research Imperative Meets Energy Management

Led By:

  • Allen Doyle, University of California, Davis

A large research university may have over 500 temperature controlled rooms, 800 to 1,000 ultra-low freezers, and thousands of other standard freezers and refrigerators. The energy and maintenance bill may total $2 to $4 million annually, yet these storehouses of priceless samples are maintained and powered "for free" and with decentralized accountability. This can lead to meltdowns when freezers or environmental rooms fail and samples are compromised.

During this Morning Roundtable, Mr. Doyle lead a discussion on a work in progress at the University of California, Davis. This campaign attempts to systematically meet scientists' need for precious sample preservation, while also attempting to motivate sample management and low-energy storage methods.

In advance of this roundtable, Mr. Doyle sought input from the laboratory community on the following questions:

  • How does your university or company manage its samples in an energy efficient manner?
  • Are there management goals and incentives that support alternatives to frozen storage and motivate scientists to clear out expired or unknown samples?
  • Is -20°C, -60°C, or -70°C adequate for frozen storage, or have manufacturers driven freezer temperatures to -80°C?


Labs21 EPC Application to Projects and Comparison to LEED

Led by:

  • Joe Phillips, Phillips Collaborative, LLC
  • Kath Williams, I2SL

This session provided an overview of the EPC (Environmental Performance Criteria) and the major revisions completed and introduce the plans to give the EPC a greater quantitative focus. The session intended to elicit comments and questions to help improve the applicability of the EPC for both specific projects and for ongoing operations of science- and technology-based organizations. The session also provided an update on how the EPC is developing relative to LEED programs.

The Labs21 EPC was revised in 2010 through the efforts of a cross-industry committee of knowledgeable volunteers led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The EPC revision updates many criteria to reflect best practices and to point out opportunities to improve performance. For example, some criteria identify where metering and verification can be used to improve performance over the life of the building. Several criteria have been added to address enhancements through health, safety, and operations and maintenance. Revisions also align the EPC better with LEED 2009. 

The session will include a discussion of methods the EPC could use to provide practical means of quantitative recognition to owners and construction industry practitioners for their intentions, efforts, and achievements through the application of the EPC.

Ample opportunity was provided to bring forward comments and ideas. It is anticipated that these comments would be instrumental in the continued development and application of the EPC.