Sustainability is becoming a standard feature of modern architecture and design. You might already be familiar with home and office design solutions that make efficient use of resources. Sustainable laboratory design, however, has the potential to make a much larger impact than other building applications. In fact, conventional laboratories may use over 5 times as much energy per square foot as an office building and a similarly disproportionate amount of water.
Down the Drain . . .
A reliable supply of clean, fresh water has always been a necessity in scientific research. In many parts of the world (including the Western United States), drought and increased demand on water resources has made efficient use of that water just as necessary. Governments and industry organizations around the world have recognized this need and created rules to encourage water-efficient research facilities.
In the U.S., a recent Executive Order requires federal agencies to reduce potable water consumption in their facilities by 2% each year through 2025. LEED has added a “Water Efficiency” category to its design criteria to encourage the “smart use and reduction of potable water requirements through more efficient fixtures and appliances.” The elimination of single pass or “once-through” cooling in labs – a method of regulating temperature or condensing volatile components by running a continuous stream of water through lab equipment and directly down the drain – represents a major opportunity to achieve these goals.
NIH, EPA, DOE and others specifically discourage (if not prohibit) once-through cooling methods in their labs. Rules such as these also emphasize the economic incentive for private and institutional research facilities to employ water-saving designs - beyond the direct costs of municipal water supply and waste water services, lab operators may be subject to codes and regulations that impose fines or limit contracting opportunities if they continue these wasteful, outdated practices.
University of Kansas laboratories are employing a novel device that not only saves water by eliminating once-through cooling, but also reduces construction and operating costs, improves lab safety, and increases convenience for researchers. To find out how, please review this brief technology summary and download the associated white paper by filling out the form below.