HDR-Designed Laboratory at Georgia Tech Wins High Honors in 2013 Lab of the Year

(March 25, 2013) - The HDR-designed Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory (CNES), at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was awarded High Honors in R&D Magazine's 2013 Lab of the Year competition. The annual international competition, now in its 47th year, recognizes excellence in research laboratory design, planning, and construction for a wide variety of new and renovated laboratory types. 

Steve Riojas, AIA, director of HDR Architecture's Science + Technology program says: "The CNES project wonderfully represents our Science +Technology program's focus on designing facilities that contribute to sustaining life; in this case, addressing the human imperative of finding sources of clean, renewable energy. It's terrific that the building itself is emblematic of that cause. We're proud to have supported Georgia Tech in staying at the forefront of this critical research initiative."

Georgia Tech's new 42,000-gross-square-foot CNES laboratory allows project-based experiments to be rapidly modified in a non-traditional environment. The laboratory is a center for research dedicated to carbon-neutral energy conversion technologies including combustion, gasification, biochemical-enzymatic conversion of biomass and carbon dioxide capture.

Dan Rew, AIA, design principal at HDR explains: "This project is a case of the right people being at the right place, at the right time. Georgia Tech advocated for us to do more with what was a relatively simple program. We followed their direction that the design express its net-zero goal and that it be flexible enough for a program that continues to change. With such a clear objective, the building designed itself, in a way. Every detail can be explained by how it helps to meet the goal—whether it is by allowing light in, reducing unwanted heat gain, increasing ventilation, or generating energy. It has been an intensely satisfying project for all of us: Georgia Tech, Gibane and HDR."

The CNES Laboratory is itself a research project focused on carbon-neutral energy. The laboratory is intended to set a new standard for sustainable design by emphasizing passive design first, reducing energy demand, and maximizing the use of renewable energy. It will act as a prototype living, learning laboratory and offer lessons learned for future net-zero attempts. Its energy strategies have been well documented and are being tracked by Georgia Tech's CNES dashboard, located in the building lobby.

The laboratory design resulted in a building that is 80% more efficient than the initial baseline energy model; 26% of which resulted from the intense use of photovoltaic panels. Increased permeability of the site and water retention strategies resulted in a 65% reduction from pre-development runoff levels. Rain water is captured and stored in a 20,000 gallon cistern providing 100% non-potable water for toilet flushing and building-process water. The CNES achieved LEED Platinum certification.

For more information on how CNES approaches carbon-neutrality, click here.

The project and effort depicted is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce under a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The content does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the U.S. government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.