DOE Labs Join Effort to Define Next Generation of Laboratories

February 1, 2002

Logo for Labs 21

On January 9, 2002, three DOE National Laboratories joined an elite group of twelve Federal and private sector laboratories helping to define the laboratory of the future and set a higher standard for how laboratories are designed, built, and maintained. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), were welcomed as partners into the joint DOE/EPA Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21) program. Each partner has identified a specific project and will strive to apply new thinking for improved laboratory performance. The projects will serve as the focus of each partner's commitment to design high performance, low-energy laboratories.

Unlike commercial office buildings, homes, and department stores, laboratories are an advanced and highly sophisticated building type. The average laboratory uses five times as much energy and water as a typical office building because of extensive ventilation requirements and other health and safety concerns. With their unique performance requirements and needs for flexibility, laboratories demand the best designers, engineers, and managers. With the added demands for energy efficiency and improved environmental performance, the challenges facing laboratory professionals are even higher.

Each of the pilot partner projects is at a different stage of planning and development. EPA and DOE are committed to working with the 12 partners to help define the scope of the project, including the performance goals planned for the finished project.

LBNL's pilot project, the Energy Efficiency and Electricity Reliability Laboratory (EEERL), is in the concept stage. EEERL will provide a center for R&D partnerships to advance the state-of-the-art in energy efficiency. LBNL's goal is to construct a building in the top 1�percent of laboratory buildings in terms of energy efficiency and healthy, comfortable working environments. Electricity use from off-site sources will be less than one-half of conventional laboratories, with the remaining electricity needs met with on-site renewable sources and distributed generation. Looking beyond energy, building materials will be selected to minimize adverse impacts to the environment.

NREL's project, the Science and Technology Facility (STF), will support the National Center for Photovoltaics and Basic Science Program and related research. STF will exceed existing Federal and national energy codes by a minimum of 30�percent by incorporating daylighting and other energy conservation measures into the design of the facility. In addition, NREL will maximize the specification of building products to minimize the impact to the environment over the facilities' life cycle. Through rigorous commissioning, NREL will ensure that the energy, environmental, and comfort expectations for the facility are met.

SNL's project, the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) Complex, will be a state-of-the-art facility for microsystems research, development, and prototyping. It will include a MicroFab building, which will house a clean-room and associated support facilities, a MicroLab building, and an Office/Light Laboratory building. MESA's goal is to use 30�percent less energy per square foot than similar buildings at SNL. SNL plans extensive metering of the various performance metrics for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning and lighting systems. The MESA Complex will reclaim and recycle process water.

The pilot partners will help shape the program so it reflects the real issues and possibilities for designing, engineering, and operating the laboratories of the future. In addition, the program is also sponsoring education and training programs as well as practical tools and resources to support the next generation of laboratory designers, managers, and operators.

For more information on the Labs21 program, including its Pilot Partners and annual conference, visit the Labs21 web site at Will Lintner, the Labs21 Federal Program Manager can be contacted at 202-586-3120 or