top of page

Introduction to Sustainable Strategies for Laboratory Planning, Design, and Operation

Sunday, October 22
Full day | 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM PT

Sean Convery, Cator, Ruma & Associaties

Otto Van Geet, NREL

Punit Jain, CannonDesign

This workshop will focus on ways labs can improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in lab buildings. This full-day training will introduce strategies for planning and designing lab facilities that are flexible and adaptable over time, that support environmental and economic sustainability and human health. It will cover setting up a comprehensive energy management master plan, as well as tips and tools for constructing and operating sustainable laboratories, both new and renovated. These strategies can help lower your lab building’s energy use by 50 percent or more. We will also discuss strategies for selling your energy efficiency and sustainability programs to upper management and describe several strategies for alternative financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.


A seasoned laboratory designer and energy efficiency engineer will cover topics that include the architecture, lab planning, and engineering systems of high-performance laboratories:

  • Laboratory planning ideas for improving sustainability and energy efficiency

  • The architecture and engineering design of high-performance laboratories

  • The energy-efficient HVAC design process

  • Water conservation and lighting design strategies

  • Financing options for energy conservation and renewable energy projects

  • Case studies

  • Resources and tools


While designed as an introductory course, those familiar with sustainable laboratory design are also welcome to attend and contribute to the Q&A. Laboratory professionals from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend this course because it gives a good introduction to laboratory sustainability and energy efficiency and why they are such important issues. Participants include:

  • Architects and lab planners

  • Engineers

  • Facility owners, managers, and operations and maintenance staff

  • Construction/contracting and project managers

  • Laboratory equipment manufacturers

  • LEED®-accredited professionals

  • Safety, health, and environmental management professionals

  • Laboratory users

  • Students in any of the above-mentioned fields


As part of the course, each participant will receive detailed course materials and links to the I2SL Best Practices and Smart Labs Tool Kits as a further resource to meet their sustainable design goals.


Creating and Growing Green Labs Programs

Sunday, October 22
Half day | 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM PT

Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar and Leoncio Lagarde, University of Colorado Boulder

Nicholas Ciancio and Emily Colpack, University of Alabama Birmingham

Christine Alencar and Fiona Hogan, University of Virginia

Ryan Weeks, Johns Hopkins University

This half-day workshop will bring together multiple green labs programs to discuss strategies for starting and growing green labs programs on university campuses. Given the large environmental footprint of scientific research, every institution of higher education with a research activity rating of R1 should be implementing green labs programming. Not only will this be necessary for meeting institutional sustainability and climate goals, but green labs programs contribute to safety in laboratory research and educate scientists in efficiency and sustainability practices that are becoming more and more in demand within the research field. Green labs programs save institutions money and have demonstrated their positive influence on energy/water savings, waste diversion, community-building in research, and educational and training opportunities for researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates.   


A wide range of topics will be covered, including advice on starting a program, funding sources and levels, campus stakeholder engagement, similarities and difference of programs, incentive strategies, and how programs are structured and function to get work done and efforts accomplished. Participants will be given ample opportunities to ask questions and time will be provided for discussion on topics of interest by participants. Depending on the size and interest of the group, part of the workshop could be dedicated to breaking into smaller groups for deeper discussion and problem-solving on topics raised during the workshop. 


Designing Safe and Energy-Efficient Laboratory Exhaust Systems

Sunday, October 22
Half day | 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM PT

Brad Cochran, CPP Wind Engineers

Tom Smith, 3Flow

The ventilation system is the lifeblood of any laboratory building. It can also be extremely energy-intensive if not properly implemented. The exhaust side of the ventilation system is critical to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment and can be comprised of numerous interacting components, from the exposure control devices such as fume hoods to the airflow controls and exhaust fan and stack. The exhaust system alone can be responsible for 30 percent of the laboratory’s total energy consumption and often drives the demand for replacement air resulting in the ventilation systems, accounting for more than 60 percent of total building energy consumption. Proper selection, design, and operation of the lab exhaust system from hood to stack is critical to occupant safety, energy efficiency, and sustainability. Minimizing the carbon footprint and decarbonizing labs are impossible without addressing the lab exhaust system.


Proper design of lab exhaust systems requires understanding the occupant’s demand for ventilation, selecting appropriate exposure control devices, determining minimum require airflow specifications, control of airflow, and proper transport and discharge of potentially dangerous exhaust from the system. Below the ceiling, if the exhaust system is not properly designed, occupant safety can be jeopardized through increased exposure to airborne hazards not properly captured and removed from the building. Above the roof, the improper design and operation of the exhaust system can also result in adverse re-entrainment of the contaminated exhaust back into the laboratory or neighboring building. Proper exhaust is critical to providing safe and healthy environments for people working in, on, or around a lab building. On the other hand, lab exhaust systems that are over-designed can lead to high capital costs and excessive ongoing energy consumption and maintenance burden.


This workshop will offer new advancements in designing safe and energy-efficient laboratory exhaust systems, including:

  • Evaluation of lab ventilation risk and occupant demand for ventilation; 

  • Selection and specifications for various types of common exposure control devices (ECDs);

  • Establishing appropriate airflow specifications for air change rates, contaminant transport and exhaust discharge;

  • Best practice design guidelines for exhaust stack and air intake placement;

  • Determining the best dispersion model for predicting concentrations at the nearby air intake to be used for specific applications; and

  • Control strategies that can be used, in part or in whole, during the design of a new laboratory or the renovation of an existing laboratory.


These strategies can safely reduce the energy consumption of the lab exhaust system by about 50 percent compared to a typical constant volume system, which equates to approximately 15 to 30 percent reduction in the laboratory's total electrical energy use. The workshop will include examples of case studies that demonstrate how these design strategies should be implemented. Special attention will be made that address specific requirements called out in the existing California Title 24 Energy Code as well as discussions of proposed changes in the upcoming 2025 edition.

  • Upon completion of this workshop, attendees should be able to:

  • Be familiar with lab ventilation risk and methods to establish appropriate airflow specifications.

  • Understand different types of ECDs and airflow control systems.

  • Evaluate the best airflow control and exhaust strategy for their application.

  • Be familiar with plume dispersion principles, which will aid in understanding the optimum placement of exhaust fans and air intakes to minimize fan energy requirements.

  • Select the appropriate method for evaluating the air quality versus fan energy savings.

  • Identify which exhaust systems can provide the most energy savings and the best return on investment.


Smart Labs Workshop

Thursday, October 26
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM PT

Instructors will include UCI’s Wendell Brase and a number of other Smart Labs veterans.

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

The University Irvine (UCI) has presented eight Smart Labs workshops on campus over the past years, as well as workshops in the U.K. and Asia. This year’s workshop will provide new content based on our continuing improvements, more than a decade of performance tracking, energy savings track record, and lessons learned that we hope will be valuable to past Smart Labs workshop attendees, as well as those who may be considering a Smart Labs program. Note: One presentation during the main conference and an option UCI campus tour on Wednesday, October 25, can serve as good preparation for the workshop.


Since the workshop will be held at UC Irvine, participants will experience UCI’s Smart Labs program on site. What started as a series of retrofits and dashboards in 2008 is now a platform for Environmental Health & Safety and Facilities Management to cohesively manage complex space, monitor and improve ventilation safety, and sustain remarkable energy savings that have continued well beyond payback of the Smart Labs investment. This workshop will lay out a planning and implementation framework for laboratory owners, facility operations staff, energy managers, safety managers, upper management, and laboratory researchers, as well as engineers, architects, or contractors who are planning either new laboratories or Smart Labs retrofits of existing laboratories.

bottom of page