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Laboratory facilities represent an ever-expanding growth opportunity for advanced, environmentally preferred, building technologies. The typical laboratory uses far more energy and water per square metre than the typical office building due to intensive ventilation requirements and other health and safety concerns. Because the requirements of laboratory facilities differ so dramatically from those of other buildings, a clear need exists for an initiative exclusively targeting these facilities.

Laboratories are so energy-intensive for a number of reasons:

· They contain large numbers of containment and exhaust devices
· They house a great deal of heat-generating equipment
· Scientists often require 24-hour access
· Irreplaceable experiments require fail-safe redundant backup systems and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) or emergency power.

Certain types of laboratories are more energy-intensive than others, due to different equipment plug loads, HVAC requirements and access. Animal research laboratories and cleanrooms in particular are highly energy-intensive. Click here for more information on Types of Laboratories.

Laboratories can constitute as much as 10% of a university's total floor space, and will consume a disproportionate amount of energy. With rapidly rising prices of electricity, gas and water, there are large incentives to reduce energy and water use associated with laboratories. Benchmarking laboratory energy and water use is essential for effective management as they can be used to measure energy and water consumption over time, in comparison with other similar laboratories or national yardsticks, and to assess the benefits of energy and water efficiency measures and technologies. Click here or use the navigation on the left hand side for more information on benchmarking.

Despite the high energy and water consumption and costs associated with laboratories, there are still very few exemplary sustainable laboratory building being developed by the Higher Education sector. Benchmarking work conducted by HEEPI in 2003 suggested that some of the newest laboratory buildings were actually the worst performing in terms of energy and water consumption. This is partly due to the fact that there are a large number of barriers to improving energy efficiency in laboratories. Click here for more information on Barriers to energy efficiency