Lessons learnt from a zero-carbon laboratory
Mathew Butler reviews the operation of the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Sustainable Chemistry zero-carbon laboratory
A key energy efficiency target was ensuring the building consumes as little energy as possible, whilst not in active use
Mathew Butler, Associat Director of Building Engineering, EIMIA, AECOM
Since completion in 2016, AECOM has monitored the performance of the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Sustainable Chemistry, a highly efficient laboratory building. The building was designed and constructed to meet the highest standards of sustainability, targeting a net zero carbon status after 25 years of operation and achieving LEED Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding ratings. The opportunity to review the building’s operation as part of a Post Occupancy Evaluation process has been valuable to identify potential improvements and provide guidance on future laboratory design.
A key energy efficiency target was ensuring the building consumes as little energy as possible, whilst not in active use. In a typical month, the laboratories are occupied about 33% of the time, yet almost 50% of energy consumed by laboratory equipment and 40% of the building services energy consumption occurs whilst the laboratories are unoccupied. We will improve the efficiency of the building services by adjusting the controls, but we are reliant on the users to improve how the laboratory equipment is used. There is undoubtedly room for improvement.
Water was another important sustainability target. Actual total consumption is only 20% of that estimated by standard design metrics and hot water consumption is less than 2% of standard design metrics. This indicates that there are significant opportunities to reduce the size of installed water supply systems in the future. This will generate not only capital cost savings, but also energy savings as a smaller hot water system will require less energy to keep it hot.
The building gives us hope for the future as its annual energy performance is roughly equivalent to the 70% reduction from business as usual energy consumption identified as being required to be achieved by the Royal Institute of British Architects as part of its 2030 Climate Challenge. A final construction cost review showed that the building was between 80% and 120% of the benchmark cost from other buildings providing equivalent facilities. Overall this demonstrates that net zero carbon laboratories are achievable without the need to compromise.
Mathew Butler spoke at the recent UKSPA Conference, to view Mathew’s presentation on the Lessons learnt from a zero carbon laboratory go to https://www.ukspa.org.uk/ukspa-online-conference/
Author: Matthew Butler is Associate Director of Building Engineering, EMIA for AECOM