Sustainable Labs

Sustainable Design and Operation

Research labs often use a large volume of outdoor air requiring a considerable amount of energy. This is driven by requirements to safeguard researchers and their work with 24/7 operation.

Successful lab projects have design parameters for critical control requirements such as:

  • Researcher Safety – local and remote display of critical information
  • Room Pressurisation – correct airflow direction generally from clean to less clean spaces
  • Ventilation – correct air change rates
  • Comfort – temperature and relative humidity

Reducing Lab Energy’s Footprint

An Aircuity program can often run labs safely down to two or three air changes per hour saving significant energy and reducing air-conditioning infrastructure.

98% of the time air quality is clean. It’s only a small amount of time that you actually need to increase airflow to clear the air and keep it clean.

Researcher’s safety is enhanced by ensuring that air quality adheres to strict safety standards.

Continuous monitoring of the lab environment provides data on air quality 24/7.

Multiplex sensing technology: Reproduced with permission from Aircuity Inc.

For individual labs with higher than average heat loads then decoupling thermal and airflow control requirements will often increase flexibility and efficiency for the future.


Before considering control strategies, we must first dive into the fundamentals and understand the types of devices that are available for control and monitoring.

Room pressure control. The basis of design for most research labs is the volumetric offset control method. An airflow control device we often recommend is the Phoenix Controls BxV. Learn more

Fume cupboards. Maintaining the desired face velocity at the fume cupboard particularly on a laboratory manifold exhaust system can be challenging. The consequences of incorrect face velocity can lead to unsafe conditions with loss of containment when face velocity is too low and energy waste when face velocity is too high. Learn more

Further Reading

International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories I2SL – an Australian Chapter is coming soon.

ASHRAE Laboratory Design, 2ND ED. Best practise guidance to reducing your lab energy’s footprint.