Category: Built Environment
Research laboratories account for up to two-thirds of the average institution’s Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions. The design of Smart Labs focuses on improving the performance of the physical infrastructure of laboratory spaces. In order to maintain a safe working environment, a typical lab building will replace and exhaust its entire internal air-volume every 5-8 minutes. An enormous amount of energy is required to supply, heat, cool, humidify, dehumidify, filter, distribute, and exhaust this air. This process often takes place continuously, whether or not the laboratory is fully occupied.
Smart Lab programs avoid this needless energy use with a combination of building design and construction standards, advanced building controls, metering, sensing, fault detection systems, integration into work order systems, and coordination with environmental health and safety programs. Smart Lab programs can yield significant energy and greenhouse gas savings through real-time air quality sensing, reduced fan speeds, adjustments to filtration and humidity control, duct and exhaust system design, preventative maintenance of HVAC systems, reduced thermal inputs during setback periods, and chemical hygiene safety assessments.
Benefits of Smart Labs
- Improved safety and performance of laboratory facilities
- Lower laboratory utility and operating costs
- Reduced energy demand, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
- Retrofitting laboratories capital intensive
- Requires advance monitoring system and focused, skilled staff
- Laboratory uses are continually changing
University of California Irvine Smart Lab Project
The typical laboratory uses energy-intensive processes to maintain constant internal conditions, regardless of occupancy or use. On average, they contribute 70% of the average campus’s total emissions. The University of California Irvine retrofitted their laboratories with smart technology to attain drastic energy savings. The integrated Smart Labs program cut energy consumption by 50 percent, saving the university over 1.25 million dollars annually.