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HEEPI release guidance on sustainable laboratories

by mel starrs on February 14, 2007

in Accreditation, Funding & Targets

HEEPI (Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement) have released a position paper on “Sustainable Laboratories for Universities and Colleges – Lessons from America and the Pharmaceutical Sector” (.doc, 29 pages). Although not a design code, it has some useful observations which will interest those involved in laboratory design, and outlines the Labs21 approach. Some points I have picked out:

  • It is not unknown for laboratories to have a ten times greater energy consumption per square metre than offices
  • Laboratories can account for 10% or more of floor space, and 20-30% of total energy consumption, in research-based universities
  • it is very common for laboratories to have much higher consumption than their design specification – sometimes two or three times higher
  • Up to 40-50% of electrical energy consumption in a typical laboratory is consumed by motors in the fans which pull air into the ventilation system, distribute it within the lab building, and expel it to the outside
  • An additional 10-30% of total energy consumption can come from chilling air or water in order to cool spaces or equipment
  • The Labs21 approach intends to address some of these issues:

  • Labs21 stresses the need for five key process features to achieve sustainable laboratories:
    • Integrated design
    • Setting of energy and environmental goals
    • Accurate profiling of operation
    • Incorporation of user perspectives
    • Commissioning as quality control

The Labs21 discussions suggested that there are five process, and five architectural/engineering, issues which need to be given greater weight by laboratory designers in Britain:

Process Issues

  • More integrated and engineering-led design than at present
  • Clear sustainability goals
  • Greater involvement by a range of users and facilities staff
  • More effective commissioning and evaluation
  • Value engineering to minimise whole-life, rather than first, costs.

Technical Issues

  • Low pressure drop design
  • Rethinking fume cupboard ventilation systems, positioning and operating parameters
  • Evidence based design parameters
  • Modular solutions
  • Effective controls.

Benchmarks such as BREEAM ‘Excellent’ are recommended:

“this is unlikely to be sufficient by itself, both because it only assesses the performance of the design as constructed rather than actual operating performance”

The HEEPI benchmarks are given below:

Laboratory Type

Typical Practice Energy Performance (kWh/m2)

Good Practice Energy Performance (kWh/m2)

Best Practice Energy Performance

(kWh/m2)

Fossil Fuel

Electricity

Fossil Fuel

Electricity

Fossil Fuel

Electricity

Medical/bioscience

256

325

121

250

75

177

Chemical Science

175

264

ID

ID

97

156

Physical/engineering

148

130

ID

ID

15

66