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Session 8-A

Can a Sustainable Scientist Have a Carbon-Neutral Lab?

The choice of research topics, what we teach, how we conduct our research, and whether we engage decision-makers all contribute to our greenhouse gas impact. The imperative of a carbon-neutral workplace especially extends to scientists, and the challenges are as complex as any occupation. For building operations, how can scientists minimize excess ventilation, the biggest energy component of their building, and perhaps their campus? Driven by research needs, ventilation-based loads drive energy use in laboratories.


By adhering to the spirit of green chemistry and minimizing unnecessary impacts of chemical use, lab occupants can assist operations staff to keep their building safe while saving 20-40% of building energy and GHG output. This "good behavior" must be coupled with a formal hazard reduction and risk assessment program by safety officers to document low-risk rooms, followed by adjusting air flow to appropriate rates for the risk profile. Scientists' endorsement of this hazard assessment process and HVAC tuning may be a key motivator for operations staff.

Session 8-B

Smart, Green, and Everything in Between: UVA Offers a One-Stop Shop for Lab Sustainability

In 2018, the UVA Office for Sustainability performed a comprehensive pilot program in three research labs that resulted in a 12% decrease in average energy use. As UVA's lab sustainability program has grown, we continue to realize the benefits of bundling Green Labs, Smart Labs, and well-demonstrated retrocommissioning strategies for capitalizing on the many safety and sustainability opportunities found in labs.

Performing ventilation risk assessments in collaboration with campus Health & Safety has allowed our program to quantify risk and subsequent ventilation needs for each lab, correcting decades of a "one-size-fits-all" approach to lab design. Beyond ventilation, energy engineers audit building HVAC systems to identify issues and opportunities for system optimization. In tandem, the campus Green Labs specialist develops customized outreach solutions based on highest-impact needs of occupants working in each building, such as intensive Shut the Sash campaigns for fume hood-driven buildings, or Freezer Challenge support in biomedical labs.

The Smart Labs program's growing portfolio has resulted in an impact of over $750,000 in energy savings to date, and Green Labs recently saved $7,632 through a targeted month-long campaign. Our team addresses lab sustainability from floor to deck, researcher by researcher, building by building, and we believe that every institution with research space can benefit from a similar holistic model.

The Future of Lab Space: Key Considerations for New Construction and Retrofits

This presentation is informed by current global issues relating to the climate emergency and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and how this might influence the design, specification and implementation of future laboratory space. As a global scientific community we are faced with the challenges of future working models (blended home and office/lab working) as well as the need to decarbonize. The presentation will cover the following topics:

  • What are the key considerations in the laboratory environment of the future? 

  • How do we address occupier demand, sector growth and new trends in design and flexibility as the market continues to evolve?   

  • How will the climate emergency influence our decision making on the future of laboratory space?


The presentation will consider the current socio/economic and environmental context, what occupiers need and what key issues or challenges might inform their decision making in terms of future lab space. The presentation will also consider the themes of adaptability, location and key servicing considerations. It will also consider both new-build and adaptive reuse.


Information sources will include observations and data gathered from the U.K. science market-developers, occupiers, and institutional clients (universities and private operators). The presentation will be focused predominantly on the U.K. market, however it will identify synergies between the U.K. and U.S. markets and aims to prompt useful comparisons and discussions.

Sesson 8-C
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