Imagine how much more territory you could explore if so much of your budget didn't have to go for gas. That's the thinking behind both the Better Buildings Challenge issued by the DOE and the University of California Irvine's new and retrofitted Smart Labs, which are getting a lot of attention nationwide for their success at cutting building inefficiencies and expenses by upwards of 50%. So what makes a Smart Lab so smart? What did building system engineers find when they put their bio research facilities and equipment under the microscope?
You've heard about green labs and green buildings, with solar panels, roof gardens, and underground parking. UC Irvine's Smart Labs have more to do with the internal systems, though buildings like UCI's Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center building, at right, that are built from the ground up (as opposed to retrofits) also qualify for high LEED ranking and are both green in the broader sense and smart.
UCI's Smart Lab energy-saving measures and lab function optimization fall into these 3 main categories, according to a project guide chart produced by UCI efficiency engineers:
1. Ventilation (HVAC)
Smart ventilation systems know when a lab is in use and when it's empty, and they adjust the air flow accordingly. These intelligent building sensors also provide a wealth of information about the HVAC functioning itself and allow for adjustments and fine-tuning of components that aren't performing optimally. Combine these with advanced safety benefits from constant and precise monitoring so that the ventilators can switch into overdrive if a chemical spill or other contamination is detected, and you have both a better and smarter system.
New equipment purchases are also part of a smart building rehab. Irvine's list of equipment to be replaced with energy-saving models includes: LCD monitors, PC's, refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, and copiers, as well as other equipment that has a smarter, better equivalent. In some instances, equipment is replaced with an altogether new and distruptive technology, like Biomatrica®'s room-temperature storage systems for samples, which Irvine has begun to use:
[Biomatrica video from their website]
Lighting updates in a smart lab building include more than replacing bulbs with high-efficiency fluorescents. In labs with windows that let in daylight, lamps may only be necessary in areas of the room furthest from the window, or on overcast days, or as task lighting at individual lab benches. The smart building system takes outside light into consideration and adjusts building lamps accordingly. UV filtering film and perforated blinds installed on windows also allow for the use of sunlight without excess glare and heat. Smartest yet, perhaps, is the fact that these automated systems can be manually over-ridden by an individual working in the lab, because even the smartest system doesn't always know what a researcher needs.
To put UC Irvine's accomplishment into perspective, consider these facts:
- The Smart Labs overhaul was carried out in only 6 months
- Energy savings will amount to $1,244,000 per year
- UCI greenhouse gases have been reduced by 733,530 lbs. (of carbon dioxide) annually
Think of that as $1.244M annually that doesn't have to be spent on building overhead but can instead go to fund science research and ever-better equipment technology to carry out that research.
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. will be holding its 12th annual Irvine BioResearch Product Faire event on the UCI campus October 2, 2012. This professional show is an excellent opportunity for bio research scientists and lab equipment specialists to come together and discuss lab technologies to make every lab smarter. UC Irvine is one of three events held over a three-day period in the greater Los Angeles area:
- 10/02/2012 -- 12th Annual BRPF event, UC Irvine
- 10/03/2012 -- 7th Semiannual Front Line event, University of Southern California, Health Sciences Campus
- 10/04/2012 -- 29th Semiannual BVS event, UCLA
For more information on exhibiting at UC Irvine, click the button below. Explore our website and see the complete 2012 Show Schedule, then give one of our sales associates a call.