Best Practices Guide: Benchmarking Energy Efficiency in Laboratories

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Purpose and Audience 

A wide spectrum of laboratory owners, ranging from universities to federal agencies, have explicit goals for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions in their facilities. For example, new federal buildings and major renovations of existing buildings are to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by 90% in 2025, and 100% in 2030, compared with a 2003 baseline (FEMP n.d.). Minnesota SB2030 standard requires achieving an 80% reduction from the average building baseline for commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings (SB2030 n.d). 

A laboratory—new or existing—is much more likely to meet energy efficiency goals if quantitative metrics and targets are explicitly specified and tracked over the life cycle of the building, from design through construction, commissioning, operations, and renovations. If efficiency targets are not explicitly and properly defined, any additional capital costs or design time associated with attaining higher efficiencies can be difficult to justify relative to other priorities. 

The purpose of this guide is to provide guidance on how to specify and compute energy efficiency metrics and benchmarks for laboratories, at the whole-building as well as the system level. The information in this guide can be used to incorporate quantitative metrics and targets into new construction or retrofit of existing facilities. For information on strategies and technologies to achieve energy efficiency, the reader is referred to I2SL resources, including technology best practice guides and case studies. 

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