Brookhaven National Laboratory Interdisciplinary Sciences Building (ISB) Becomes Second HDR-Designed Building on the Campus to be Awarded LEED® Gold

(January 15, 2014) - Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., announced that the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building (ISB), opened in April 2013, was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Designed as an energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable facility, this epicenter for energy-related research earned the maximum number of LEED points for energy performance, with an anticipated energy use savings of nearly 41 percent—far exceeding the EPAct 2005 requirements of 30 percent over baseline for federal buildings.

The ISB LEED Gold certification rounds out a trifecta of HDR-designed LEED certified buildings on New York's Brookhaven Campus. The Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) was first, receiving a LEED Silver certification in 2008, and the National Synchronton Light Source (NSLS) II Ring Building was certified LEED Gold in 2013.

Ahmad Soueid, principal and senior vice president at HDR says, "The collaboration between the project management team at BNL, the scientific team, the contractors and our architects has been great, and we are looking forward to being a part of scientific history made in the future in this sustainable laboratory building."

The 87,700-square-foot, $47 million facility includes high- performance and flexible laboratories where scientists engineer and optimize materials with the goal of developing breakthrough technologies for batteries, biofuels and solar panels. The open and interdisciplinary research building houses 60 standard laboratories, and four specialty labs, including a humidity-controlled dry room and two ultra-low vibration labs, connected via a vacuum-locked system to a laboratory customized for a process called molecular beam epitaxy. This process allows scientists to make pure and precise semi-conductor materials that are layered on top of each other to ultimately form devices such as transistors and lasers. With its energy-efficient design, the building truly embodies the energy science housed within it.

As HDR Sustainable Design manager Michelle Diller explains, "Using an integrative process helped the team incorporate sustainable strategies in all areas of the design, maximize energy saving and satisfy program requirements. The facility's high-ventilation needs were still met, while energy savings were maximized by the selected glazing strategy and roof/wall insulation, reflective roofs and hardscape, and occupancy and daylight sensors."

Cost-savings is obtained by using heat recovery systems, high-efficiency lighting systems and laboratory equipment, along with high-efficiency fume hoods, in the experimental labs. The sustainable design also includes strategies to conserve water such as meeting the requirements for both stormwater quality and quantity, avoiding the use of permanent irrigation, and reducing potable water use by 55 percent over the baseline.

Targeted labs required specific designs and solutions to accommodate a broad range of research environments. One of these laboratories, the Ultra-Low Vibration (ULV) Laboratory, is a one-of-a-kind lab for the characterization and imaging of atoms. Located in the basement, the lab is seated upon a floating inertia slab of over 100 tons, with complete acoustic and radio frequency isolation from the outside world.

Brookhaven's ISB project manager Peggy Caradonna says, "The design team conducted highly specialized site testing, using the latest modeling techniques to predict the laboratory performance. The independent tests confirmed that the finished laboratory space exceeded the stringent criteria we required and we expect that the research in the ULV lab will have far-reaching and beneficial effects for the laboratory."

Another specific dry lab requires a humidity-controlled environment with -40 degree Celsius dew point, and 21-degree Celsius dry bulb temperature, where researchers can safely assemble and test new lithium-ion batteries.

As significant as the science research conducted within the building is the collaborative nature of the research. The building strategically groups energy research scientists into one facility to work together across disciplines to foster solutions. Rather than closeting the best minds in the world in silo-like labs, the environment is transparent and infused with natural light to help spark ideas and ignite solutions to the nation's energy challenges. Collaboration space in varying sizes and configurations is strategically placed to facilitate a spontaneous and productive sharing of ideas.

Other sustainable building features include:

  • Over 20 percent of total building materials (by value) were recycled materials
  • Over 25 percent were obtained regionally (within 500 miles of the project site)
  • Over 54 percent of the wood used in the project was FSC-certified
  • Over 1,400 tons (86.5 percent) of on-site construction waste was diverted from landfills
  • Low-emitting materials were used throughout, increasing indoor air quality

Enhanced commissioning of the building helps ensure systems will work at their peak performance. The building even carries through its sustainable commitment in the way the building is cleaned, earning an Innovation LEED credit for a Green Housekeeping Program.