Thursday, September 4, 2014

1st Net-Zero Energy Laboratory in the World: The J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego

In fall 2013, the J. Craig Venter Institute, a well funded Genomic Research Lab, opened its new 45,000 sq. ft. LEED Platinum, Net-ZERO+ energy lab at the UCSD campus. This is important milestone because Science Labs tend to be heavy energy users, and the design needed to fit into an environment like La Jolla. With this type of building as a 'proof of concept', we can now say, with definitive proof, that it is possible to build Net-Energy-POSITIVE industrial laboratories using reclaimed and recycled, sustainable materials. As we move forward in the NEW-Building space, we must incorporate these techniques and build a mass market for the materials, even as we teach building contractors to innovate and adapt, training their workforce to the new standards.

Overview - see the info-graphic at the link
The scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) are engaged in basic science research that has the potential to change society. One of our quests is to help solve two troubling issues — global climate change and our dependence on hydrocarbons. While doing all we can to find solutions to these issues through our science, we are now building what we believe will be the first carbon-neutral laboratory facility in the world, located on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

The building massing and envelope have been designed to maximize the use of daylight to improve indoor comfort while further reducing overall building energy use. The building is proposed to be "net-zero" for electrical energy, which means that it will produce as much electricity on-site as it consumes annually. This is possible by integrating numerous energy efficiency measures throughout the building systems, incorporating operable windows, efficient lighting, and by reducing internal plug loads wherever possible. On-site electricity is generated through the sizeable photovoltaic roof.

The team has also pursued strategies to minimize water consumption, as appropriate for the semi-arid environment of San Diego. Rainwater will be collected and stored in a cistern, filtered, and then reused for non-potable uses such as PV washing, cooling tower make-up, and site irrigation. High-efficiency plumbing fixtures will be used and the site will be landscaped with native plants that require minimal irrigation.

Labs, and in particular genomic-focused ones, traditionally consume large quantities of energy to both run energy intensive scientific equipment and for heating and cooling. The new JCVI building will feature all of the latest design and construction elements to ensure that it will exceed the requirements for LEED Platinum certification. 

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