The Green Labs Program is a collaboration between Facilities Management and the Environmental Center which uses a team approach to minimize the use of energy, water, material goods, and hazardous chemicals in CU-Boulder laboratories without compromising research integrity or safety. Energy Management works closely with Green Labs to provide technical assistance in the evaluations of projects and to fund projects which reduce energy through laboratory equipment upgrades. In FY 2016, Green Labs’ projects produced savings of over 63,000 kWh, all under a 5 year payback.
Better Buildings Accelerator: Smart Labs
FACMAN Engineering and Environmental Health and Safety, in collaboration with Green Labs and Energy Management, have entered into the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Accelerator Smart Labs Challenge. The Accelerator partners work with the DOE to develop standardized approaches to overcoming common barriers to energy efficiency in laboratories.
A typical laboratory is 3-to-4 times more energy intensive than an average commercial building and can account for up to 70% of a given campus’ energy footprint, making laboratories a key focal area for energy and carbon management strategies at universities. If all laboratory buildings in the country improved their energy efficiency by 20%, annual energy and cost savings could reach about 40 trillion BTUs and $1 billion.
FACMAN Engineering, led by Shannon Horn, in collaboration with Tim Lockhart of Environmental Health and Safety, is piloting an Air Change Rate Reduction initiative to address the conditioning of outside air requirements in its labs. By evaluating specific chemical ventilation requirements, rather than using standard ventilation rates, CU Boulder will reduce the volume of outside air needed, and thus reduce the energy consumed in conditioning that outside air by 15% to 20%.
Bringing Efficiency to Research Grants (BETR Grants)
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Better Buildings Alliance held a case competition on Greening Grants where Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar was invited to be a judge along with other university and federal representatives. Since that time, Kathy has worked in collaboration with the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and DOE to continue the conversation on Greening Grants. Kathy founded and leads the I2SL University Alliance Group (UAG), focused on this topic. Through her role with the UAG, she helped lead the Greening Grants Work Sessions at the 2015 and 2016 DOE Better Buildings Summit which brought stakeholders from federal agencies, research institutions and non-profits together to discuss ways to make connections between sustainability goals and federally-supported research. Links to more information on those meetings and this effort can be found on the UAG webpage. The community of university and federal employees which have formed around this topic recently voted to rename the effort Bringing Efficiency To Research Grants (BETR Grants). The BETR Grants topic will be included again in the 2017 DOE Better Buildings Summit meeting which Kathy is again helping to lead.