Teaching Labs: “Top Five” Energy Efficiency Strategies by Building Type

“Teaching” labs are a unique subset of the other lab typologies.  Their energy use mirrors that of their research counterparts, but with some very significant differences.  Teaching labs are, generally speaking, controlled environments with scheduled activity times and durations; known ingredients and processes; and (mostly) known outcomes.  This controlled environment allows building designers and engineers to rely upon laboratory operating procedures that limit lab usage times and minimize safety risks associated with lab ventilation.

The most effective EEMs for Teaching Labs are those that target the controlled and scheduled nature of the teaching curriculum. Measures that allow the labs to enter “unoccupied” energy-saving modes for long periods of time are highly advantageous.  Specialized energy saving equipment that takes advantage of the controlled nature of classroom experiments, such as filtered fumehoods, are also highly advantageous.  In some cases, pedagogical shifts, such as “Green Chemistry” and/or “Mico chemistry” curricula, can contribute as much, or more, to building energy efficiency than building-level energy efficiency measures.

Our “TOP FIVE” EEMs for Teaching Labs are:

  1. Optimize building program distribution (space planning for energy efficiency).
  2. Provide robust unoccupied mode
    • Unoccupied mode for lab ventilation, including setback for fresh air delivery, temperature stability and setpoint, and humidity stability and setpoint
  3. Optimize Airflow Safety Device (Fumehood) Selection
    • Reduce number of Fumehoods and other airflow devices as much as possible. If possible, limit capacity for future Fumehoods.
    • Use alternative safety devices where safety concerns do not require a true fumehood (plexiglass capture boxes, snorkels, etc.)
    • Use a “filtered” Fumehood instead of a ducted Fumehood, if the research application is appropriate for these devices (see erlab.com)
    • Optimize Fumehood device specifics (ducted fumehoods)
      • Install energy efficiency measures, either:
    • “Automatic Sash Closers” with vertical rising sash (max efficiency) or
    • “Energy Awareness” system with combo sash (backup alternative, less efficient)
      • Optimize Fumehood “minimum draw with glass closed”
      • Optimize Fumehood “Face Velocity”
  4. Other strategies appropriate to the laboratory type

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