Continuous Improvement Working Group

Working Group: Jim Coogan, Siemens; Quentin Gilly, Harvard University; and Rachel Romero, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Coordinated by: Sustainability Visions, LLC and I2SL

Are your staff, infrastructure, and procedures ready to improve lab operations and design, notably ventilation management and upgrades? I2SL and subject matter experts in the laboratory community are developing a management assessment for the people and technology that keeps the air flowing safely and efficiently. The assessment reveals meaningful interactions that result in continuous improvement in new and existing laboratory facilities. The tool is called the Sustainable Laboratory Improvement Maturity Matrix (SLIMM), and is similar to "Maturity Models" used in software development, supply chain, and tech development, for example.

The tool provides a management assessment, a team-building process, and an action plan. It includes managers and leadership, as well as senior and junior staff, bringing them together and bridging silos of expertise and activity. The tool complements established evaluation systems such as LEED® by ranking best practices, and indicating the staffing, technology, training, policy, funding, and risk analysis to reach high performance. This tool is expected to be useful to operations, EH&S, management, security, researchers, energy managers, and capital planning throughout the laboratory's useful life.

A pilot version of SLIMM was tested at the 2018 I2SL conference, and the content focused on ventilation management and upgrades. It is in the latter phases of development and is available for pilot evaluation at your site. Laboratory owners and service providers valued the questionnaires that challenged them to understand their own areas of expertise (Facilities, Automation, Safety, Design, and Finances) as well as their colleagues' areas.

Working Group Intent

The purpose of this Working Group is to develop a tool and process for use by the laboratory and high-tech building industry and implemented at facilities worldwide. The Working Group began by:

  • Exploring the needs of the laboratory and high-tech facility community (e.g., issues related to facility type, ongoing operations and management, and operating budgets).
  • Evaluating rating systems already in place (e.g., LEED, ISO, ASHRAE).
  • Identifying the format of the tool (e.g., point system, checklist, gap analysis and Action Plans).
  • Discussing the options for recognition (e.g., self-reporting, certification, accreditation).
View the latest draft of the SLIMM tool.

Topic Areas

Continuous improvement is difficult in any complicated operation where different stakeholders may get isolated from each other. The following operations or design topics will be considered for SLIMM benchmarking and action plans:

  • Ventilation Management
  • Fume Hood Operations
  • Cold Storage Management
  • Waste Reduction
  • Plug Load
  • Occupant Empowerment
  • Green Chemistry
  • Metering
  • Design-Build Teams and Process

Get Involved

This Working Group invites individuals and organizations committed to helping I2SL develop the continuous improvement tool and content for different initiatives. Organizational representatives are encouraged to contribute their technical expertise, facility information, and experiences.
The Working Group is currently divided among three committees. Each committee will focus on one of the following efforts and provide recommendations for how each can best be integrated into the Laboratory Continuous Performance Improvement System.

  • Incorporate current standards and components of existing rating systems that are applicable to laboratories.
  • Focus on changing user behaviors.
  • Utilize metering and dashboards to inform occupants.

Representatives meet in person at least once annually (at the I2SL Annual Conference) to discuss progress toward developing the system. Periodic conference calls are scheduled throughout the year, both on the Working Group and committee levels.

If you would like to join the Working Group, contact I2SL.


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