Green Your Lab



"How can we be Sustainable with Lighting?"

Lighting is an excellent way to be more sustainable. Sustainable lighting strategies can have the quickest payback periods.  

1. Turning off or De-lamping 
Do a walk-through of your facility. Are there areas where the lights are on, even though the windows provide sufficient lighting for the activity? Are there areas where the lighting is blindingly bright? Can you remove some of the light fixtures or some of the bulbs in the light fixtures? For example, in double fluorescent lamps, you can remove one fluorescent tube from the lamp. Can you turn off some of the lighting due to the social distancing requirements? The payback period is immediate. You start saving as soon as the lights are turned off.     

2. Spot/Task lighting 
Are there only certain parts of a room that are being used? Can only that section be lit? Can we put a desk lamp in those areas, and turn off the overhead lights?    

3. Switch to LED lighting 
LED lights use 1/3 of the electricity and last 2.5 times as long before replacement is needed. They fit into the existing light fixtures and require very little effort to implement. Unlike traditional lighting, LED lighting quality does not deteriorate over time. It will also decrease cooling costs in the summer because LED bulbs don’t generate as much heat.   LED lighting projects offer among the highest return on investment of any sustainability project – a pay back period of around 6 months. You can often find government or utility company grants to help offset the cost. However, most grants will require you to upgrade an entire room at one time, rather than replacing bulbs progressively as each bulb fails.     

4. Motion Sensor lighting / Automatic switches    
In areas where the light is left on even when there is no one in the room, consider getting occupancy sensors. These can help decrease the lighting cost of an area by as much as 90%. These are most often installed in restrooms. break rooms, storage areas, warehouses, and conference rooms. Also, if your facility does not run 24-hours a day, you should install automatic switches that turn off the lights in the evening and turn them on again in the morning when your employees are at work.        

5. Daylight harvesting 
When engaging in a new building project, look at designing buildings with strategically placed windows that allow for maximum daylight usage Studies show that natural lighting improves employee productivity and happiness.


"What are some Green Building Certifications to attain?"

When engaging in a new lab building project, it is important to keep sustainability and health in mind. 

There are many Green Building certification frameworks that you can consult for good ideas to incorporate in your new building project. These certifications provide a good basis and goals for a new lab. However, we understand that lab buildings are different from regular buildings, so it can be difficult to fit your project within these, sometimes stringent, guidelines. Unless for funding or promotional reasons, it is not absolutely necessary to attain these certifications. There are many lab buildings that have successfully received one or more of these certifications. However, every lab building has unique needs and sometimes focusing too much on attaining a certification can lead to undesired consequences. 

Nevertheless, we suggest reviewing each of the following tools below because they will provide a wealth of information and lots of great sustainable building ideas. Each one has its own strengths, weaknesses, requirements and coverage. We suggest you take the best of each and make a customized list of goals/ideas that make sense for your project to attain. 

LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) - This certification program developed by the US Green Building council. It rates buildings against its criteria for building environmentally friendly buildings and efficient resource usage. 

ENERGY STAR® - This is a certification system for buildings and products organized by the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. You may know this scheme best for their grading of equipment, including lab freezers. 

BREEAM® (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) – This is the world’s most established method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings. 

Green Globes ™ - This is a questionnaire-based rating tool used in the assessment and certification of buildings developed by the Green Building Initiative. It separates into new construction, existing buildings and existing healthcare buildings modules. 

Living Building Challenge – This is a certification program run by the International Living Future Institute. It has a wider coverage of building types than LEED® or BREAM® and includes entire neighbourhoods and communities. 

Some lesser known schemes: BPI Rating system – This is a lesser known scheme by the Building Performance Institute, Inc. Rating system, mostly for homes, and BOMA 360 Performance Program for commercial real estate.     

As a reminder, as with any other building project, you need to adhere to local building legislations that have been put in place by the government to protect the health and safety of your workers. 

Below is a selected list of US building codes, standards and guidelines related to sustainable buildings. Of course, these may change according to your location, so please check your local regulations. 

- International Energy Efficiency Code®, International Green Construction Code, and International Code Council® guides 
- ASHRAE standards for indoor air quality and refrigeration 
- US Dept. of Energy Building Energy Codes and Standards Program 
- ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ by NAHB and ICC 
- ANSI and ISO standards

Note: Questions and response may be slightly edited to fit website reading. Original text is kept where possible