Hawaii Lab Achieves LEED Platinum

""The University of Hawaii’s new C-More Hale Laboratory for studying and teaching about marine microbes—microorganisms in the sea—is located, of course, on the sea. Appropriately, the design provides scientists and students with extensive views of the habitat they study. And along with the views comes daylight.

Bringing lots of daylight into the facility and using it well is where Rocky Mountain Institute contributed the most design input for the 26,997-square-foot building that includes laboratories, offices and a conference center. The building recently won certification as the first LEED Platinum laboratory in Hawaii. (LEED Platinum is the highest rating for green buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.)

“Nothing is more important than a graceful integration of the daylight design with an overall architectural concept for a space,” says RMI daylighting analyst Eric Harrington. “We are most successful and the light most appreciated when our work is invisibly synthesized into the art of architecture.”

RMI’s recommendations focused on bringing daylight deep into the footprint of the building while controlling for glare and solar heat gain. Key aspects of the daylight design include:

  • A 30-foot high, south-facing glass curtain wall featuring light shelves, shade shelves and high-performance glass.
  • Light pipes (or light tubes) to bring daylight into core offices and stairways.
  • A glass clerestory that provides indirect north light as well as daylight reflected off of the Biomedical Building tower.

Optimizing daylighting quality not only provides a more pleasant visual environment for occupants, but also results in energy savings because of lower cooling loads and the reduced need for electrical lighting. Each kilowatt hour saved also represents avoided pollution.

""Achieving LEED Platinum on a laboratory is particularly challenging because of the huge energy loads from lab equipment and requirements for 100 percent fresh air intake and 10 air changes per hour. This success was possible because the design team took a whole-systems approach and carefully integrated a number of energy-efficient strategies.

Special features include: energy-efficient mechanical plant and lighting systems, high performance glazing, occupancy sensors in all offices and laboratories, underground storage for storm water runoff, solar water heater, a green roof, plaza landscaping with drought-resistant plants, waterless urinals and photovoltaic laminates on the roof.

Designing an energy-efficient lab in a hot, humid climate required special attention to the design of the mechanical systems, which allowed for the recapture and reuse of waste heat, says Harrington. The laboratory HVAC system is equipped with a loop called a runaround coil that recovers heat from outside air and exhaust. A water-to-water heat pump also recovers heat from the chilled water return to provide space and water heating.

The integrative strategies combined to reduce the building’s energy consumption by 52.2 percent over a code-compliant (ASHRAE 90.1-2004) laboratory of similar size and usage and 31.4 percent savings in energy costs. The building is also designed to reduce water consumption by 48 percent over a standard building of similar size and usage.

Photos courtesy of David Franzen